The book was better, the book is always better.
That’s not to say I don’t like the movie adaptations of books, I own all 8 Harry Potter movies in a box set, but really I only ever watch the first three because the books are better.
Now I’m not really here to argue which movie was better than which book or vice versa, but I’m here to ask a question: why?
Why are major plot and character changes regularly greenlighted (by authors, producers, and audiences alike) when a book in adapted into a major motion picture?
When books are adapted into movies there are often small adjustments made to the plot or characters, and of course, each director has creative license to make these choices. But, as a person who is not a director or author, I don’t understand the purpose of changing a novel so completely that you have now created a new story with the same name. I see minor changes that may need to be made for the ease of filming or the length of the movie, but when you change the storyline aren’t you creating an entirely new story? When you change the defining characteristics of the main character, isn’t that a new character completely?
I read Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children a few months back and absolutely fell in love. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t read it earlier! I’m pretty sure I finished all three books in a week. I just love the peculiar children, and Rigg’s is so damn creative! Did you know that the photos included in each book are (mostly) real photos found from collectors and estate sales? Those are real people who’s stories have been lost to time and that brings something incredible to the Rigg’s novel. What if those children who were treated so poorly in circus side shows so many years ago truly did have special powers? Once again, an example of the world not appreciating a little sparkle in a person when they see it. Here is my Goodreads review on Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.
The movie adaptation of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children was released this past weekend and I’ve seen both good and bad reviews. It seems like it was pretty standard Tim Burton spectacle. Full disclosure, I won’t even have the option to see it anytime soon since I’ll be traveling Southeast Asia for the next three months, so my opinions are based on trailers, reviews, and other articles.
I’ve read multiple articles about how Burton completely changed the main character Emma, from personality to peculiar trait, for the movie. This is why I have absolutely no interest in seeing the movie. I don’t understand how this could possibly be the same story if Emma is the one floating and Clare is throwing fireballs. It doesn’t make sense, the entire plot is then forced to change. Which is does, the ending does change from that in the book. This doesn’t really fit the definition of the word adaptation as I understand it, these is a complete overhaul.
In this Bustle article, there is a discussion with the actor who played Emma (Ella Purnell) about the changes made to the character. She is very understanding of the disappointment that fans of the novel may feel, she even says she felt the same when she read the book after filming. But, this just further underlines my point that if you’re going to adapt a novel you should stick to the original premise. If not, then create entirely new content. Or even consider the movie “based off of” the world created by the author.
I saw on twitter how supportive Rigg’s was of the changes made and the final film overall, but I feel disappointed that so many people are going to miss that story that he shaped with so much passion and creativity, all because Burton decided Emma throwing fireballs didn’t fit with his aestetic.
The book is always better. It’s better because it is the final product as the author intended. Movie adaptations can be beautiful and enjoyable, but the book was better.
I am so curious to get the thoughts of some other book nerds on this, especially if you’ve already seen the movie!