Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Movie vs. Book: "Child 44: Where it Fell Short"

I recently reviewed the book Child 44 written by Tom Rob Smith, which you can read here. I didn't have much in the way of criticism for the book. I thought there was a balanced level of suspense, historical revelation of Soviet Union horrors, and character development. The psychological components of brainwashing, post traumatic stress disorder, fear, greed and psychopathic behavior were not clinical, but they definitely hit on all the right notes to bring the human struggle to life while propelling readers through an unrelenting thriller.

However, as is often the case, something was lost in the recent film adaptation of the book. If you haven't read my Movie vs. Book comparisons before, I feel it's important that you understand I am very open minded and I embrace the art of adaptation. I find adaptation an art form in itself. How do you take this finished and best-selling piece of literature and translate it to a different art form? It requires hard decision making, cuts, streamlining and simplification.

I've read that many book authors opt not to translate their own works into screenplays because of how different the writing medium is from writing a novel. In screenplays you have to break down the story and lay out the bare bones, "kill your darlings," and then leave room for the director's cut and vision. It would be hard to do that to a piece of work that you labored over in order to achieve the sense of finality; enough so, at least, to offer it to the world as a completed work. Some author's have been up to the task, most recently Gillian Flynn wrote the screenplay for Gone Girl and her adaptation was incredible.