Over the weekend, I saw two favorite books rendered into visual media – both film and stage. It was fascinating to see the differences between them.
Amid an impressive ad campaign, The Lightning Thief debuted in theatres this weekend. Worm Burner’s class went en masse to see the movie after school (because his teacher is just that cool). He and Dark Omen and friends seemed to think it was fine, but adult lovers of the book were disappointed. Much of the Greek mythology and important plot points were left out of the movie, and the wittiness of the book died in translation. We’ll see if sales live up to the hype, but I was hoping for a much better movie, so that the subsequent books would make the leap to film as well.
On the other hand, I cried during the stage version of Frindle, even more than during the book! This lovely story translated beautifully to stage, even with the same small coterie of actors playing everyone from Nicholas Allen to the principal to the businessman cashing in on Frindle’s 15 minutes of fame. Our school PTA had already arranged to bus all the kids from grades 3-6 down to the tiny Metropolis theatre to see the production during its 2 week run, so Mighty Mite, Grandma (an ex-Kindergarten teacher) and I were left to see it on our own. It was delightful, pulling out all the best lines and moments from the heartwarming book.
Being a writer, I wondered if either of these authors had any idea their stories would make it to the stage or screen when they wrote them. Or if they had any influence on the translation. I know that once a writer creates a story and flings it out into the world, it often escapes their control, turning into more, or less, than their vision of it during the writing. Which makes me think one more draft through my book is probably not a bad idea. Who knows if my stories will get published, much less have that level of success – but once that manuscript leaves your computer, your absolute control over it comes to an end.