Adaptations

I love to see movies and I love to read books. And nowadays, when the adaptations can be so incredible (I can’t believe what was done with Lord of the Rings trilogy), I quite enjoy movies that are based on books.

The thing is, I usually refuse to see the movie if I haven’t read the book. I just can’t. do. it.

So imagine my horror when I found out that Cloud Atlas, the new Wachowski Brother’s movie (think Matrix–one of my favorite films of all time) that I really want to see, is not only a novel, but a 500+ page monstrosity at that.

Now I love to see movies in the theater, but with how hard it is these days (wrangling childcare and such) I don’t want to waste a rare movie-going experience on just any old movie, I want to see the ones that LOOK COOL.

Cloud Atlas is supposed to LOOK REALLY COOL. And so I REALLY want to see it in the theater. But, as I mentioned earlier, it is also a book. A rather long book. One I can’t imagine finding the time to read (at least not before it’s big screen run is up).

Currently I’m tagging teaming this book: I bought a print copy and used an Audible.com monthly credit to purchase the (19+ hour long) audiobook. So now I’m listening to it in the car and while I do work around the house and reading it before bed (and whenever I have a spare minute). Hopefully between the two versions I’ll finish the behemoth before it leaves the theater.

At which point I have to start reading Life of Pi immediately so I can see that in the theaters too. I ordered that book in Spanish so it will probably arrive right around when I either finish Cloud Atlas or give up on it and see the movie anyway.

Listening to a book on tape that you are also reading is an interesting exercise. Attempting it I see that audiobooks are also adaptations, in their own way. When the narrator presents the words of the book he gives his own rendition, he adapts the book to his understanding of it.

Of course a narrator is only adding something to the reading of the book, the way the characters sound and the stress put on certain ideas. When a book is adapted for a movie much more is lost, while little is gained. Movie adaptations have to cut character development and plot and give you (their renditions of) what the characters–and the world they inhabit–look like.

I firmly believe that no movie is ever as good as the book, which is why I always want to experience the superior version first. Also, I don’t like reading a book when I already have the movie’s main character or setting in my head.

Thinking about adaptations of books to audiobooks and movies got me thinking of blogs and how in a lot of ways, they are adaptations of our lives. I guess any biography, autobiography or memoir is an adaptation, as there is never any way to include everything about a person or an experience into a book. Nor would you want to.

In the same way, we adapt our lives for our blogs. We adapt our lives by what we want to say, what we think others want to hear and how much time we have to actually write. Always, in every post we write, we are adapting our lives for the page.

This blog is an adaptation of my life, one that focuses mainly on one thing. At least right now it focuses on that one thing, but before it focused on other things and at some point it will focus on more things still. This blog adapts to my life. It becomes, at any given time, what I need it to be.

And no matter what this blog is for me, I am always choosing my words, plotting my narrative, mapping what I want to say and how I want to say it. This blog is an adaptation of my life, just like any one post is an adaptation of that experience. And the way I choose to tell a story, in many ways, shapes how that story will be remembered, effectively shaping the story itself.

I’m not sure where I’m going with all this, just following my train of thought from books to audiobooks to movies to memoirs to blogs. It’s fascinating to realize how the lenses we look through color our writing, and how that writing may one day define a time period for us. The way I adapt my experience for the page might be so different than how someone else would do it. I guess it’s good I’ll never know how I’m standing up against others in the adaptation of my own life. And I’m so thankful to all of you for sharing the adaptations of yours.

What are your thoughts on movie adaptations of books? Have you ever considered your blog a written adaptation of your life?

5 responses

  1. Yes! Exactly. My blog is an adaptation of the story of my life. And that adaptation is shaped by other people’s adaptations of their stories in all forms: FB statuses, blog posts, stories told at girls’ nights out, shared experiences, etc. Our whole life is one big adaptation of circumstances and events that shape us. Isn’t it awesome? 🙂

  2. I totally agree that I must read the book before I see the movie. I like the idea of a blog as a written adaptation of life. Around here we’ve been talking about written versus digital books and the value (or not) in both formats along with or without the audio version. It’s a delicate balance, deciding how to experience a story.

  3. Really interesting post. I was just talking to my FiL about this: he HATED the movie adaptations of two of his favorite books. (The English Patient and Atonement. I loved both the books and the movies.) He won’t see The Life of Pi because he loved the book. I see his point, I guess. While I loved the LOTR movies, they weren’t as good as the books. But they didn’t ruin the books for me, either.

    My blog is definitely an adaptation of my life. It’s heavily edited and doesn’t include lots of stuff.

  4. Yes, I like to read the book first. Because the only time I have done it the other way around (I watched The English Patient before I read it), it ruined the book for me.

    Cloud Atlas is a fantastic if rather frustrating book to read (well, the first half is at least), and I highly recommend it. Also Life of Pi. You won’t regret reading either. I’m not really into audiobooks – I find I drift off and don’t concentrate, but hope they work for you. I can’t wait to see the movie.

    And I love your idea that a blog is an adaptation of our lives. You’re right of course … and it’s making me think.

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