Thursday, 24 April 2014

Books to Film

I've watched only the first episode of the new BBC production of Jamaica Inn so far and husband refused to watch the rest because it was too dull and depressing, so I've taped the other two episodes. So I can only comment on the first which has evidently proved highly disappointing to a great many people.

I do agree that the sound quality, or diction, was not good enough at times and the whole programme seemed a bit dark and muddy, while the women's costumes were not exactly true to the period. However, I'm aiming to watch the remainder as I still enjoy this type of story, although I've read a few complaints on Facebook that they give away part of the plot too soon - but I knew from the beginning what was actually going on.

Daphne du Maurier is one of my favourite authors and it's a good excuse to re-read the original story at some point. I love Rebecca and Frenchman's Creek and quite enjoyed the TV versions of the former. And for anyone who didn't already know this, she also wrote many short stories including The Birds and Don't Look Now, both of which were made into films.

Books made into films often cause controversy and the consensus is usually in favour of the original novel, rather than a visual adaptation. However, I can think of productions which I enjoyed as much as the novels, and in two cases I preferred the films. The famous BBC series of Pride and Prejudice, with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle, did full justice to the novel and characters and the Jane Eyre with Toby Stephens and Ruth Wilson was one of my favourite versions of that novel.

Two films which I preferred to the original book were The English Patient and The Horse Whisperer. The novel of the former was almost unrecognisable after I'd seen the wonderful film and less easy to follow, while the ending of the latter made much better sense than in the book. These are only my opinions, of course, but I'm sure some of you will have other examples of good and bad adaptations!



Wendy's Writing said...

I also love Daphne Du Maurier, Rosemary. Rebecca is one of my favourites. I watched part one of Jamaica Inn last night and I'm afraid I agree with most of the critics. I spent most of the time saying, 'What did he say?' and then eventually fell asleep!

Julia said...

I'm so glad I didn't commit to watching this. I've heard nothing good about it. One of my yoga ladies said she'd been watching it with the subtitles on! Maybe I'll read the book one day. There doesn't seem to have been a film made of this book since 1939, when Hitchcock did it with Maureen O'Hara, Robert Newton and Charles Laughton leading the cast. Maybe the Beeb thought the time was right for a remake.
The most disappointing adaptation I've seen recently was Cloud Atlas. Loved the book, but it just didn't transfer to film. I watched it with someone who hadn't read the book and he couldn't make head or tail of it.

Patsy said...

So far, whenever I've read the book first, I've preferred the book to the film or TV version.

Joanna said...

Sometimes I choose not to see the film of a book I've loved, in case it takes away the picture in my mind. But I saw Rebecca before I read it and it didn't spoil it at all - both were marvellous. I was planning to watch Jamaica Inn, but now I'm not so sure. There have been so many negative responses, but I'd still like to give it a chance.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Rebecca is one of my favourites too, Wendy. I'm still watching the other episodes of Jamaica Inn so jury still out!

I think the first episode was the worst, Julia - unfortunately! Though you might still need subtitles to hear Joss. Someone said there was a version starring Jane Seymour at one point - don't think I've ever seen that. Haven't read or seen Cloud Atlas yet!

Rosemary Gemmell said...

I think that's the case with many, Patsy!

I'd still give it a chance, Joanna - I enjoyed the second episode last night, though it all could be better! I agree about Rebecca.

Joan Fleming said...

I've watched the first two episodes and I'll watch the last one tonight. I agree with the complaints of others, but my own view is that the story should have been told in two episodes rather than three.

It's so long since I read the book I can't compare the book and the film versions, but I mostly prefer books.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Thanks for commenting, Joan - I enjoyed it all up to a point but it could have been much better!

Carolb said...

I keep meaning to watch parts 2 & 3 of Jamaica Inn on iPlayer, but haven't got round to it yet.

The continuity issues, and the contraband scene in early daylight became minor points in comparison to the sound issues.

Book to film is always going to be an issue, and I really think it works well with very few. Compressing a book into a couple of hours-or less- is going to mean losing elements that a reader might consider vital.