Adaptation Arguments

Now that I’m graduated, I am finally going to be keeping up with my blog. Are you excited? You should be.

This week, I wanted to talk about opinions on adaptations. If you follow my blog, you know that I recently read Dave Eggers’s The Circle and then went to see the adaptation with my girlfriend, who didn’t read the novel. This is often the case when we go see adaptations. Now, both of us studied English in college (I got my BA in it, while she minored in it) and we both took an adaptation class. I even took it a step further and took a film studies class. So both of us are fairly knowledgeable in literature, films, and adaptations, which is unfortunate because instead of having friendly, lively discussions, we both try to talk over each other, prove out points, and get pretty angry. That’s just who we are as a couple.

So after watching The Circle, as you all know, I had a very negative reaction to it — the plot was all over the place, the acting was pretty bad (especially for such a talented, amazing cast), and I thought the alterations in the storyline and characters were strange. (If you want to read my full review, click here). So my girlfriend, Kristen, agreed that it was a bad from a film standpoint, but could not argue about it as an adaptation since she’s never read the novel. So we both agreed it was a bad film and should have stopped there, but then it got heated.

I mentioned that I disliked Emma Watson’s character, the main character, Mae Holland. I didn’t like how she was portrayed because it was drastically different from book-Mae. Book-Mae was naive, trusting, and enthusiastic about The Circle and all its technologies. Film-Mae was untrusting and turned out to be somewhat of a “hero” at the end of the film. Though fidelity isn’t important in adaptation studies because an adaptation is a separate work, it’s still based off another work and I personally believe that the plot and characters should be reminiscent of the original work. Maybe that’s not true of adaptation academic-wise, but why adapt a book into a film if you’re not going to try and keep the core ideas from the book? Would that even be an adaptation?

Kristen, of course, disagreed with me entirely. She said that if I hadn’t read the book, then I would have had no problem with film-Mae’s character. She believes that you shouldn’t compare the book to the film at all, shouldn’t even use it as reference in accordance with the film. She even brought up my dislike of the most recent Gatsby adaptation and how I had a big problem with Daisy’s character. She loved how Daisy was represented: more intelligent and sympathetic. I didn’t like Daisy because I thought she was made too sympathetic and didn’t really resemble the Daisy of the text. Again, she said if I hadn’t read the text, I wouldn’t have had that issue. But, again, I pointed out that the adaptation should be based off the book, and that the story drastically changes when something as integral as Daisy’s character is altered.

Obviously, we reached an impasse, and by that, I mean we sat in silence for the rest of the drive because we knew we’d never agree on such a topic. And obviously, everyone has their own opinions. As a book lover, I try my best to separate the film from the book, but I really do think the film should be somewhat accurate and remain the main plotline. Maybe that’s just me. What do you guys think?

Nevertheless, I think we can all agree that The Circle was a bad movie, let alone a bad adaptation…

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