How many times have you walked out of a movie based on one of your favorite novels and mouthed those words? It’s extremely rare that a movie adaptation of a novel surpasses the book. I probably can count those occasions for me on the fingers of one hand. Of course there’s The Godfather. I’d add Gone with the Wind to that after recently rereading the book. Most of the famous American writers (Hemingway, Faulkner, and Fitzgerald) suffered horribly when it came to translating their novels into movies.
There are a number of reasons why we cherish novels over movie versions. We love to create our own image of the lead character. We also feel a closeness to the character in a novel because often we read that character’s thoughts. We feel we know that character. Nelson DeMille’s John Corey is a character that we follow in several of that writer’s novels. He’s funny, brave, and a guy with a great sense of humor. Still, a movie version would probably fall flat.
I’m reminded of the book versus movie issue because Michael Connelly soon will have a pilot for a TV series featuring his main character, detective Harry Bosch. Connelly fans have been reading about Bosch for over twenty years. During that time the character has aged in real time. Now, he’s within a couple of years of mandatory retirement from the LAPD. The series is slated to focus on two Connelly novels– City of Bones and the Concrete Blond.
No matter how happy Connelly is over the actor chosen to play Harry Bosch, I can’t imagine many Connelly fans watching the show and deciding that the actor was an exact ringer for the image in their heads. It’s a risky proposition for a writer and a potentially disappointing experience for a fan.
I’ve finished a sequel to Silent Partner. The first book will be published this Spring. Since the two main characters appear in both books, I’ve developed my ow mental images for what they should look like. It’s hard to imagine I could find two actors who would match my mental images and even less chance I could find an actress who could match my image of the sexy ghost who appears in both books.