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Film Adaptations?

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August 20th, 2013

Editor Annie Green, tackles that age old issue of book-to-film adaptations…

Often, when a book is adapted into a Hollywood blockbuster film, there are two reactions:

  1. Awesome!
  2. Not as good as the book!

And I think we’ve all been guilty of that second opinion. The film industry is often cruel to our beloved stories: cutting out minor characters, destroying subplots, forgetting small but very important scenes, and turning every protagonist into a Jenifer Lawrence (no offence Hunger Games fans) or Ryan Gosling. I hold a personal vendetta against the directors of the Harry Potters films, simply for forgetting Peeves, Percy and scrapping Hermione’s famous frizzy hair – well they claim to have done the latter, but I certainly wouldn’t describe Emma Watson as a toothy, frizzy haired nerd.

Still, the Harry Potter films did get one thing right:

And I know I am one of their worst cynics, but the movies also have another benefit (well, only the first few) and that is the maestro named John Williams. I mean, how can you beat the classic, da duuu da da duuu da duuu duuu, duuu da da duuu  da duuu!?

And on top of the riveting tunes and Alan Rickman, the film adaptation offers one more advantage:

I mean, who doesn’t dream about that image of Hogwarts looming out of the darkness? It brings a figment of our imagination into an actual sight before our eyes. It is like we ourselves are there, and that brings me to my point. We may moan and criticise, but a film can bring a story to life like no other way. We may carry on moaning by saying, “but it’s not how I imagined it!” in which case, tough luck, but sometimes you might get lucky. I may hate the way the story is told and the characters portrayed, but that still can’t diminish the grandeur of the place itself, in which I can have my own adventures. Nothing beats that.

Another example: Tolkien’s famous Lord of the Rings. The incredible world which had to be turned into not one, but three books, and similarly three amazing films (mainly because I am in love with Viggo Mortensen) which mostly live up to the original story, is one I would happily dream my days away in. I love the films and the books alike, both have their charm. Yes, I know, Tom Bombadil was one step too far when cutting out minor characters, but once again, the best part of the films for me is simply the music. I spent most of my revision sessions this summer accompanied by this soundtrack:

And again, what can beat this sight?

Which brings me to the question. Did Tolkien actually envisage it like that? Did Tolkien want his books to be office box best sellers? Well, he does leave us with some clues:

Take, for example, The Hobbit. Recently made into three films starring John Watso… I mean Martin Freeman, it was edited, changed, lengthened and featured singing Dwarves. In the book, the Dwarves are indeed very musical creatures, and in all of Tolkien’s books, the plotline is riddled with songs and folklore. For Tolkien, it is part of his rich and diverse world.

I am an aspiring writer. I attempt fantasy, have this little world of my own, and for some reason, the characters will not stop singing folk songs! Also, I don’t know if this is just me, but I do not just write the words. Each comes with its own tune simultaneously. This is what got me thinking. Surely others do the same? Part of creating a world is creating the little details. My room is full of maps, diagrams and drawings as well as music manuscripts and headphones. Lying on top are my rough drafts of writing and a red pen for corrections. For me, all of these come hand in hand. For me, this is the one reason I am prepared to tolerate the film industry.

But obviously this is open for discussion. Is the world down to our own imagination? Can only some people do it all on their own? Do they need help to fully visualise the world?

I know I’ve only been discussing fantasy and magic. But if you take a closer look, novels set in the modern day are often adapted and no one blinks an eyelid. However take something like the Hunger Games and there are critics, complaints and celebrations all at the same time. A film set here and now may receive the odd complaint for messing around with the plot, but there is much less of a big deal about it. We know what this world looks like, there is little debate.

At the moment there are two big film adaptations being released: the Percy Jackson and Mortal Instruments. Soon to follow will be the second Hobbit film and Catching Fire. As we are all avid book lovers here, is it worth seeing the story slaughtered? Is it worth having someone else’s perception of the characters relayed on the screen, even if it’s the author’s? Personally, the music and setting are what make a movie for me. But that still doesn’t make up for the new generation of acclaimed Harry Potter lovers who’ve never read the books.

Does it add or take away? Can we grin and bear it or do we genuinely love seeing our favourite story on big screen?

What do you think? Are there any in particular you’ve loved/hated? What’s your general opinion on adapting books for film? 


Apollinaire said

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August 16th, 2013

One of our editors, Ruth, was with us on work experience and whilst she was here, she wrote this cracking blog post. If you’re a fan of poetry, taking risks and good writing, then read on..

 

Apollinaire said

So, I’m doing this dance project at school and my stimulus for choreographing my dance is a poem called “Apollinaire Said.” I chose this stimulus because the poem intrigued me, so I just though I’d share some of my research with you J

 

“Come to the edge.’ He said

‘ But we’re afraid.’ They said

‘Come to the edge.’ He said

‘But we’ll fall!’ they said

‘Come to the edge.’ He said

And they came.

And he pushed them.

And they flew.”

 

There’s a bit of history to this poem.

Apollinaire was a French surrealist poet who survived World War 1 as a soldier for 2 years but then died in the Spanish flu epidemic shortly afterwards. He also wrote plays, short stories, and novels and also did some work as an art critic. However, despite the misconception that many people have, Apollinaire did not write this poem. It was actually written in the 1960’s by Christopher Logue for a poster advertising an Apollinaire exhibition at the ICA (institute for contemporary arts.) Christopher Logue was an English poet and a pacifist who was a part of the British poetry revival.

So the first point I want to make about this is that people can be mistaken. People themselves make mistakes, which leads to misconceptions and confusions.  Apollinaire and Logue were two very different people. One was English and the other French; one fought in a war and the other was a pacifist. But people still managed mix them up.  And for me this is shown through the poem. The people in the poem are confused about where to go and where to step next, yet sometimes you just need to a step off the edge to eventually end up flying. Sometimes, you need to take a risk and fall to the ground before you can get up to admire the results.

Another thing that I’ve done in my research is to look at what the poem seems to be about and for me, its about standing on the edge and the fear of falling off that edge. So I looked up ‘the fear of falling’ and although it’s recognized as a phobia, it doesn’t have a name, its anonymous. (The closet fear to it is the fear of heights – acrophobia.) But there was also something called the vicious cycle, which is where somebody has some type of fall, but then because they are afraid of falling again, they are more likely to fall again.

I suppose what I’m trying to say here is, in the poem, these people are so afraid of falling that they don’t look past the fall. They don’t look above and beyond the cliff from which there standing on, all they see is the ground far below. And like the anonymous phobia, this poem could be about anyone; this fear of falling can happen to anyone.

So there’s some of my research, but I’m not just telling you call this for the sake of it. You see, I’ve learnt and seen from my research that we are all standing on the edge of something; something in life that we are too scared to do. And there is one thing that I want you to take away from this, one message that I want you to know. Jump!


August 9th, 2013

 

After a queue and an odd look from the ticket lady (it was supposed to be an over 18 event, and I am 14) we finally went into the main room of the Science Museum, ready for Stephan Emmott’s talk about the end of the world as we know it, otherwise known as 10 Billion, the tie-in talk for his new book of the same name. As I sat down in the chair which at first seemed cool and original, being see-through plastic, but soon became highly uncomfortable (I want to find that designer and slap them round the face), I was aware of an almost party-like atmosphere. This did not last long, for a prevailing sense of doom swept over the room as soon as Emmott started his talk. Well, maybe five minutes in, as it began with some small talk, an introduction and some jokes that everyone else seemed to find funny. Hmmm, maybe this was better suited to adults after all…

 

The actual talk was everything it was rumoured to be, i.e. scary, shaming and other generally bad emotions.  That is not to say, however, that it was not interesting. It was by far the most interesting thing I have heard for a very long time. I liked how it was so casually done; Emmott seemed at ease and yet slightly uncomfortable, which made me feel more empathy for him than I would for some boring old person who waffled on and bleated out dire warnings and death threats for humanity, whilst seeming completely at ease with their position on stage. Well, he did say some quite dire things, but he phrased them in a way that didn’t linger on each one for very long, it just sort of hovered over the individual things for a second and then moved on, and it wasn’t until the end that you suddenly realised how badly we are treating our world. It was like being smacked in the face, that bit at the end, when you had been listening to the startling figures and not really focusing on each one, and then – Bam! – It hit you.

 

We, and this planet, are going to die, and die soon, if we don’t do something drastic about our situation.

 

Did you know, for example, that by the end of this century, models show that our population could reach up to 28 Billion people? That just seems like the biggest figure I have ever heard, but then you think that 100 years before now, 7 Billion must have seemed like the biggest figure they had ever heard, and yet here we are. Polluting our planet, keeping people alive whilst we kill everything else, thinking that we are the main priority here on earth when in actual fact there are millions of other species that live here too. Stephan Emmott gave us the stark truth: unless something drastic is going to happen, and happen soon, we are all going to die. And nothing drastic is happening.

 

I know it sounds odd, but this was the best bit of the evening. The talk was interesting, and even though it was terrifying I still wanted to listen. However, after this engaging half hour came an hour of complete and utter boredom. There was a “conversation” with Emmott on stage, which was, OK, not mind-numbingly dull. I could stand to listen to it, and there were some funny jokes, but after that came the Q&A.

Oh Q&As how I despise you. I really do. I do not like listening to people stand up, ask a question that frankly I do not understand because it uses words like arbitration and juxtaposition and yes, I understand what those words mean, but it doesn’t mean I want to sit on uncomfortable chairs and listen to patronising academics (there is nothing wrong with academics, only the patronising ones) use unnecessary words to ask convoluted questions at eight thirty on a Thursday night. Especially when the person answering those questions is inconsiderate to the person asking the only question I could understand and thought made sense; Emmott mocked this man who asked why, if he was so concerned about waste, his book had so many blank pages. He wasn’t incredibly rude, he just encourage the rest of the audience to laugh at this man. Which I thought was mean. And it’s a valid question!

Anyway, the talk was… different.

Parts of it were really interesting, and parts of it were really dull (Q&A). I think that is what the book, 10 Billion, was like too. You have to sort of dip in and out, not read it all in a big glob, otherwise it will leave you with a sense of what doom will befall us all, a headache from all of the (inaccurate, if you believe the gossip) figures, and (if you are unlucky with chairs like me) a backache too. And if you don’t want to be constantly looking at everything around you and thinking about how it will lead to the destruction of earth, do yourself a favour and don’t read it or go to any of the talks. You’ll just freak yourself out. I know I did, and judging by some of the expressions as I left, everyone else had too.


August 9th, 2013

Strong characters in books are often hard to come by but so far this year, we’ve had so many fantastic book releases! So I’ve just picked a few of my favourite characters from them; For me these are the top 5 characters that have stood out and are memorable even now :D

 

1. Cassie from The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

I do not think there is a single person on this earth who can say that they have read ‘the 5th wave’ and not enjoyed it. This book has received amazing reviews; it’s truly a great read.

I believe one of the main reasons this book has done so well, is because of the fiery, feisty nature of Cassie’s. She was strong willed and she made up her own mind about what she wanted to do without needing others approval and in my opinion was she stood out as a true individual.

There was also her relationship with her little brother, Sammy, which almost proved Cassie’s bravery. For those who have not read the story (shame on you!) even though Cassie’s parents had died, she still risked her life and all that she had to try and get her brother back which is why she is by far my favorite character of 2013.

 

2. Annabeth from the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan

I only recently started reading the Percy Jackson books when the Hero’s of Olympus came out (so forgive me if this is old news to you.)

Annabeth, for all she maybe stubborn, she’s a fighter. She fights for justice, and she fights for Percy even when the gods deify her. There’s not a great deal to her, what she does give to this book is truly amazing. I look forward to the new film!

 

3. Nick Carraway from The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

(I know the book didn’t come out this year, but the film did so I’m going to count it anyway!)

Nick is one of the most caring and faithful book characters you will ever know; His loyalty to Gatsby, up until the very end, is phenomenal. He also remains open minded towards Gatsby and Daisy, so is a good listener to!

I suppose one of the reasons I love Nick as a character is because of the way Fitzgerald allows us to engage with him, as the narrator. I just think Nick would be a great, friendly person to know!

 

4. Scarlet from Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

I’ve really enjoyed the lunar chronicles so far, so when Scarlet came out, I was interested to see what Meyer would do next; Scarlet turned out to be completely the opposite of what I expected. Scarlet was a resourceful and caring character that loves her grandmother and tries to do what she believes is best. She is also trusting which can be seen as bad, like in the case of Wolf, but it does mean that nothing gets in her way once she has her mind set on what needs to be done

 

5. Theon from Falling Kingdoms

Falling Kingdoms is one of my favourite books so far this year and again, if you haven’t read it then where have you been? Theon plays quite a minor part in Falling Kingdoms but I think his character portrayal was great.

He was a loving and caring soldier, set apart from all others and he lived to serve his king. For all those who’ve read the book you know where his loyalty leads and how much he gives to keep Cleo safe.

So there are some of my favourite book characters from this year, but what do you think? What are your favourite book characters from 2013?


August 8th, 2013

Last week a very lucky bunch of Spinebreakers editors went to the launch event for the blockbuster new movie, Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, based on the book of the same name, by Rick Riordan. Overall it got glowing reviews. Read on to find out more…

 

Agnes Okanlawon

Attending the premier of Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters was one of the highlights of my summer. I am a massive fan of Percy Jackson and all things demi-god related, so I really appreciated all the little kooky extras like the blue sweets and magic tricks.

I’m fascinated at how the director took the books and changed it without really changing the characters. There are definitely a few surprises in the film that I wouldn’t have put in myself.

I also felt like a lot of the adventures on the island were missing and the end seemed a little rushed, but I guess that’s what happens with films as they are more limited with time than books.

I would recommend that anyone who has read the books still go see the film because it’s a must for all fans. Anyone who hasn’t read the books should be ashamed! But also should still go see it also because it is an action packed fantasy with good characters and an interesting cast. I would like to thanks Spinebreakers for the tickets and also for the starting my love of the Percy Jackson books. I can’t wait to see if anymore of the series become movies. Thoroughly enjoyed the whole event and feel blessed to have seen Logan Lerman up close front and centre in 3D!

 

Megan Quibell

10 of the Best Bits about Percy Jackson Sea of Monsters:

  1. Hermes, played by Nathan Fillion, and George & Martha
  2. Seeing Grover in a dress!
  3. Annabeth is blonde! Alexandra Daddario now has the beauty, brains, spirit, strength and looks of Annabeth!
  4. The 3D is absolutely mind-blowingly stunning
  5. The relationship between Percy and Tyson
  6. The very-very end is just perfect. Absolutely perfect.
  7. Mr D, AKA Dionysus, the god of wine. He’s hilarious. I mean, he’s a complete jerky, but he’s just so funny.
  8. All the witty banter, especially between Percy and Clarisse
  9. The romance was so true to the book
  10. This film stuck so, so much closer to the book than the first film

 

10 of the bits I wasn’t so sure about:

1.    No Percy’s mom! It’s just wrong without her.  Wrong!
2.    So was Tyson’s arrival – that wasn’t how he was meant to come into it.
3.    Chiron wasn’t forced out of camp.
4.    There was also no Circe – something I was really sad about!
5.    Another thing they missed: the sirens.  This meant the hilarious hummus conversation between Percy and Annabeth didn’t happen.
6.    Also, the quest started differently.  I’m being really picky here but so what?  I’m a picky person.
7.    Oh, and more pickiness: Percy’s wave thing.  Admittedly it was totally freaking awesome but still.  Not in book.
8.   None of the whole ‘Nobody’ thing to blind and kill Polyphemus.
9.    The little details: while they got so many of the little things right they also got a lot of them wrong.
10. But my biggest complaint?  The Big Event – The Big Finale Before The Proper Finale.  It wasn’t in the book.  I’m pretty sure that it’s a scene from one of the later books, actually.

 

Tyson and the Hippocampus, Image courtesy of 20th Century Fox

 

Ruth Walbank

Like all book to film adaptations, the film was quite different from the book. Bits from the other Riordan books had been added in and changed slightly but I don’t think this detracted from the film. I think all book lovers know that when a book is adapted into a film, it’s going to be very different from the original in one way or another, so there were no surprises there! On the other hand, I would recommend trying not to compare this film to the book. I tend to find that when you do, you will always leave the cinema disappointed and if you go to see a film, you should enjoy yourself as much as possible! Otherwise what’s the point in going to see it?

The actors were very good and as most of the same cast had also been in the last film, they maintained their high performance level from the Lightening Thief. But there was one exception, a member of the cast that I think didn’t preform to the same level as the rest. Annabeth. For me, Annabeth has always been one of the strongest female characters and I have always admired her for her loyalty to Percy plus her general feisty nature. Unfortunately, I don’t think this was shown was well as it could have been in this film. Her character should have been emphasised more. But that’s just my personal opinion and I’m not sure if this is down to the script writing or the directing as Alexandra Daddario portrayed her character very well in the previous film. I’ll leave it to you to make up your own mind when you go to see the film because this might just be me.

So as a film, I would recommend it.

Overall, I expect this film to do as we’ll as the first film did. As a whole, the film was excellent, and I have to add that the 3D was very well done. I congratulate Thor Freudenthal on his directing and Marc Guggenheim on his adaptation of the book. I look forward to seeing how Percy Jackson is going to be revived after its long 3 year rest from the first film!

 

Atifa Jiwa

Adapted from the novels by Rick Riordan, Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters is the much-anticipated sequel to The Lightning Thief starring Logan Lerman as Percy and Alexandra Daddario as (a newly blonde) Annabeth.

The film follows the fantastical adventures of Percy, half-blood son of Poseidon and his friends as they seek the healing powers of the’Golden Fleece’ in order to restore safety to their home – an adventure which lures them into the slimy belly of Charybdis, within biting distance of a hungry cyclops and out across the blue sea on the back of a hippocampus.

Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters is visually impressive with the fantasy elements brought to life in stunning 3D shots. An audience is immersed  in everything from an underwater world to scenes made of vibrant stained glass. Most aesthetically pleasing is a watching a hippocampus (a water creature that looks like it’s half horse, half rainbow) jump out of the ocean. For me, that was one of the most beautiful pieces of cinema I’ve ever seen.

Peter Hartlaub noted that Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters is “an easy film to pick apart” and indeed, if you’re looking beyond face-value, it’s easy to be disappointed by the clumsy plot edits, cringe-worthy one liners and unfortunate cliché. But ignoring that, this is one of the most easy to watch and easy to enjoy films you’ll come across this year.

3/5 stars. An enjoyable (and wonderfully family-appropriate) adventure film with a pleasing dose of Greek myth. And if those reasons aren’t good enough? Two words. Logan. Lerman.

 

Chuo Ying Ye

The long awaited sequel really lived up to its expectation. The action and story was exciting indeed and I believe that during the film not a single whisper was heard, even if the audience contained quite a lot of young children, showing that Percy Jackson has once again captured the entire attention of the views – a difficult task to do. When the film finished, I was actually speech-less because it was just that good. The story was not confusing and carried on very well from the last movie. This new adventure of Percy’s to obtain the golden fleece was amazing to watch, it reminded me of when I was younger and how mesmerised I was about Greek mythology and how each God has certain powers. Since it is a movie for everybody, humour, action and a little bit of romance is incorporated into it. At times I was laughing at the slap-stick comedy but at points I was on the verge of tears, taking me on an emotional roller-coaster. If I was obsessed enough with the film before – Logan Lerman’s looks play a big part in this obsession – I am even more drawn in now. I would rate the film 5/5 and hope that others enjoyed it as much as I did, a thrilling experience all in all.