Wednesday, August 17, 2011

New and improved...or is it?

We recently went to see a little theatre production of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None. For those of you not familiar with the story, here’s a brief description:

Ten people are invited to an isolated mansion on a private island. On prominent display in the mansion are copies of a poem about the deaths of ten little soldiers, as well as a grouping of ten small ceramic figurines guessed it. The soldiers. Not long after the guests arrive, they’re cut off from the mainland—and then someone begins murdering them one by one. The circumstances of the murders match the deaths in the poem, and as each victim is claimed, one of the statues goes missing.

The actors were great, the set appropriate to the time period, the mystery as intriguing as ever. They’d even found a clever method of eliminating the statues at the time of each murder. But...

The ending of the play didn’t match the ending of the book.

As a romance writer, I have to say, the different ending to the play satisfied me. But as a long-time mystery reader and a huge Agatha Christie fan, I’ll tell you truthfully, I was crushed. It didn’t help at all for me to learn that the new ending for the play had been written by Agatha herself.

FYI, all this didn’t come as a surprise to me; I’d read the book and seen both the play and movie versions many times before. But, still...

I was crushed. LOL

How do you feel about it when one of your favorite books is turned into a script for the stage or the big or little screen? Are you okay with the new version? Or do you wish they’d stayed true to the original?

All my best to you,



Barbara White Daille


Margery Scott said...

Great post, Barbara. I wish Hollywood could stick more closely to the book version when they adapt for the screen, but since I also write scripts, I understand that sometimes it's just not possible. There are times, though, it seems directors change the ending just because they can. One movie that comes to mind is "The Firm."

Tessa said...

Hi Barbara,

I have to admit, I do prefer the book. Hollywood puts its own twist on the ending because they "know" what sells visual wise. The author has little input once the book has been sold. The one reason the Harry Potter franchise has done so well is because it's author has been involved in every aspect of production. A movie might inspire one to read, but for me its the book that sparks imagination. I will go for more books by the author. If the movie is bad, I just won't go.


Barbara White Daille said...

Margery - you hit on a good point there! Making changes for logistical reasons is not so bad, but doing it just because you can? Not so much!

Thanks for the comment.


Barbara White Daille said...

Tess/Nan - it's great when the author has input.

Although, again, Agatha herself rewrote the ending for the stage version of her book, so I guess I just have to get over it! LOL

As for Harry Potter...great example of a HUGE success!

Thanks for sharing.


Pamela Stone said...

I typically see the movie THEN if I enjoyed it read the book. As a visual person, the book and all the details become more engaging because I can vividly picture the characters and the setting. But it irritates me when major facts don't match, no matter whether I like the plot of the movie or the book best. It just seems they should be close.

Pepper Phillips said...

I'd rather read the book first, then watch the movie. I haven't done Lincoln Lawyer yet, so need to read that before I view the movie.

One movie whose ending was cut is the Wizard of Oz. When I was a small kid, I remember when the camera panned down, that the red slippers were under the bed. I wanted those shoes so bad. Years later, when the camera panned down, the camera stopped before they got to the shoes. What! I told that to another screenwriter, and he said that if what I remembered was true, it had a whole 'nother meaning to the end of the movie. And if you think about movie making, the camera wouldn't pan down if there wasn't something to see there.

Barbara White Daille said...

Pamela - if a movie/play is based on a book, the writer in me always wants to know the author's "vision" first.

But seeing it on the screen helps me "envision" the story, too.

As for the major storyline not matching, I'm with you 110%!


Barbara White Daille said...

Papper - now that you mention it, I seem to recall seeing those slippers, too. But it's been so long since I've watched the movie, I'm not sure.

That definitely does change the meaning of the ending. Thanks for the food for thought.

Also, for making me want to sit down with my copy of the book and reread it!


Cindy Carroll said...

I like to read the book first because the book is almost always better than the movie. I would actually prefer that books not be made into movies but into TV shows or mini series instead. It's much easier to stay true to the book when you have more hours to play with. Fitting a book into a two hour movie just doesn't work. I also write scripts so I know how much has to be cut, changed, merged in order to make a book translate to the big screen. Best adaptation I ever saw was a mini series of a Dean Koontz book. As I watched I felt like I was reading the book all over again. It was THAT close.

I also hate when they change the ending for no good reason. The Mist was like that. No reason at all to change the ending of that. The story had a perfect ending. The movie didn't end any more optimistically so why change it?

Barbara White Daille said...

Cindy - that's a good point about needing more hours to tell the story, especially with (some) movies getting shorter and shorter.

Also, the longer length of a TV movie, multi-part movie, or series adds the time to establish the less visual aspects of a book.

My memory's often faulty (grin), but I believe adaptations such as Mary Higgins Clark's books, for example, stayed fairly true to the originals.


Carol said...

Reading the book first has more impact in writer investment for me. It's a given and I know when I watch the movie, many aspects of the story is deleted or switched during the scriptwriting process. I've been disappointed in script changes at times, other times pleasantly surprised. My DIL is just the opposite.

Dale Mayer said...

Hi Barbara,

I'm probably an oddity in that I enjoy both. I try not to correlate the book to the movie and vice versus or I pick them both apart. I won't read and watch close together, but find I enjoy the personal perspective of the creator behind each piece of art.


Barbara White Daille said...

Carol - you're right--sometimes the changes do work even better than the original. (Except with my Agathas! LOL)

Now, I really want to go back and reread The Wizard of Oz, because I have a feeling that changed a lot, too.

Thanks for commenting!


Barbara White Daille said...

Dale - thanks for the added perspective.

And now, I have to confess. I'd recently read an article about different authors who had their books turned into movies, and their consensus was: learn to let go.

It made me see that each version had value and can be enjoyed on its own merits.

It also made me see that if someone ever wants to make one of my books into a movie, I, too, can learn to let go!


linda s said...

I wish movies had different titles from the books with a based on... credit when the movie is a director's vision of what he/she thinks the book should have been about.

Barbara White Daille said...

Linda - that would be a great idea!

Like a rating that shows us the level of graphic content, the credit would tell us that the director had added his vision to the project.

Wish they *would* implement that.


Vijaya Schartz said...

Hi, Barb: You raise good points. But there are so many stories out there. If I see the movie first, that's what I will retain and I probably will not look for the book. If I read the book first and I liked it, I will definitely watch the movie to see how it translates on the screen. But I do hate it when they change the ending (unless I didn't like the ending in the first place).

Barbara White Daille said...

Vijaya - good point. The ending could be an improvement.

No spoilers here, but as I'd said with the Agatha play, my romance writer self actually liked the new version.

Thanks for stopping by!


Mary Marvella said...

Barbara, I have to view each as a different story, too, or I keep noticing changes which annoys me.

If I loved the book I don't want the end big points changed.

Barbara White Daille said...

Mary - with your eye for grammar and detail, I can definitely understand that discrepancies would bother you!

Thanks for stopping by and commenting.