Monday, July 9, 2012

Film and Art. (nice pretentious title, yes?)

So I finally finished Girl With a Dragon Tattoo. And though I haven't seen either the American or Swedish film versions, in researching the author a bit I encountered the usual carping that either

(a.) Neither film was any good compared to the book. (Unlikely, yes? There are favorable reviews and unfavorable reviews for both.)
(b.) One was better.

So leaving that specific subject, let's talk about film and art. This is going to be a rant. You've been warned.

I am dead tired of hearing “They ruined the plot. They left out my favorite character. They casted wrong. They made it too (insert whining here.) Look, I’m really quite sorry no one called you up personally and asked your opinion. I’m sorry making a film is a complicated process involving a million other factors besides making an exact replica of a book. You realize that doesn’t work? You can’t just spit out a word-for-word visual copy of a book and expect that to work. The flow is different. The expectations are different.

Books. And films. They are different forms of art. They have different strengths, people process them differently. And don’t tell me, “But I had a picture in my head!” Yeah, so did I. So did we all. Get over it. I am a vividly visual person when I read. I make movies in my head, that’s part of the magic of reading.

When you watch a film, do not begin by thinking “What is wrong with this?” Remember that all art is communication, whether it communicates epic story or nihilism. What are they trying to tell you?  The money and time was limited, the resources were not perfect, and things just go wrong, but for Pete’s sake, when you watch a movie, stop expecting it to cater to your personal vision of the story. I guarantee you will enjoy it more, and who pays ten bucks to sit around and mope for two hours? If you see a film you know is bad, there's no one to blame but yourself for the loss of your time and money. If you got your butt out of the house to go see a movie, give it a chance.

Perhaps, just perhaps, accepting the filmmaker’s vision may deepen your own. Both can exist. That’s art.

p.s.. that said, there are certainly some terrible film adaptations. But please don’t go in expecting that, or it will most certainly come true. You find what you’re looking for.