I love books.

I love movies.

I don’t always love books made into movies.

One of my biggest pet peeves is when characters are eliminated or melded together. I understand why it’s done: keep production costs down by reducing headcount, keep storyline cleaner, save time. I understand the practicality- I am all about the practical. But….

The first time I encountered this daunting character thing was upon reading Gone With the Wind. SPOILER ALERT: In the book Scarlett has three children, Bonnie is her third. The movie adaptation of this book only has her having one child.


Even at twelve, I was incredulous that this had been allowed to happen. It was a 9 thousand hour movie, with 8 billion people in the cast. Really? They couldn’t cast two kids? The additional kids were a great way to really look at Scarlett’s character as a whole person. Being a Mother changes you, or should change you? Did we miss integral parts of the story because they weren’t included in the movie? Did the premise change? How much of the integrity of the book was compromised by cutting out these characters?

Not long after my disillusionment with the movie/book dilemma of GWTW, I encountered another slight- “Rich Man, Poor Man” (SPOILER AHEAD) In the movie there is a sister character and a girlfriend character. In the mini series, these characters were combined.

What? Combine a sister and a girlfriend to make one character? Madness…

Now, I admit that RMPM is not a classic of literature- it’s a page turning soap opera of a story. But you take any lesson or value or literariness out of the book by melding these two characters together. If the book had melded these characters it might not have gotten published- that’s how strong the need is for there to be two separate characters. Nature/nurture was a strong foundation of the novel, and it was completely reduced to cheap and tawdry in the mini series. But I guess even back in the seventies we just wanted cheap and tawdry…

So- which book/movie adaptations annoy you the most regarding eliminating or melding of characters? These were the ones that came to mind because these were the first time I recognized the phenomenon.  Which characters were integral to the storyline of a book but ended up in the vast black hole of unused characters?


53 thoughts on “Eliminating and Melding

  1. The book The World According to Garp was made into a movie with Glenn Close and Robin Williams. It’s been too long now to remember it accurately (I’ve read the book several times and once in German translation) but only saw the movie once, years ago, on tv with commercial breaks. The one thing that sticks to my mind is this:

    They were pretty accurate keeping things from the book the same, but left too much out.

    I understand why, no one wants to watch a 6 hour movie. But. I missed the details from the book.

    Sometimes they do a good job. The Lord of the Rings trilogy did a pretty decent job I thought…but I’m sure there’s a million movies that just don’t do justice to the book in the way that you mention.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. My problem with books to movies runs more along the lines of which one came first for me and if I really liked it. Then it is often more than just the elimination or melding of characters, it is that some of those smaller details often get missed, left out or changed all together. I watched the movie “The Last of the Mohicans” first, then attempted to read the book and ended up really ticked because it was almost like two completely different stories. When they made the movie, they only picked the very basics of the story line, threw in some romance and ran with it. While I loved the movie, the book frustrated me because I was expecting something more movie like. It is rare that I ever like both the book and the movie. I think the only ones are the Harry Potter books/movies.

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  3. A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snickett was a series of 13 books. I read the first 5 with my girls as they were released. When the movie came out, they took pieces of 3 books and made it one horrible movie. I hate when Children’s books are turned into movies and then kids think they don’t need to read the book. Grrrr.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. My pet peeve is kids listening to audio books instead of actually reading. And I. D.o.n.t mean kids who read along with the audio or are using them as a learning tool/resource. I mean the lazy ones

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’m a reading and learning specialist. I actually think audiobooks are an acceptable form of reading for many people. I had students who could comprehend high level text but were unable to decode well enough to read the same text. I also am currently a frequent consumer of audiobooks as I drive over an hour most days and it allows me to read twice or three times as many books as I would otherwise. Some people are auditory learners and that’s another factor I take into account. There is a huge difference between audiobooks and a movie besides the obvious fact that audiobooks are word-for-word the same as the printed book. It also requires the reader/listener to create their own meaning from the words and pictures in their head of what is happening in the book.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. My niece was given the assignment to read “the Outsiders” for 6th grade. She has no disabilities. She was bored by the actual reading and listened to it on tape. I have real issues with listening to something vs reading because it’s boring. My other issue is that these kids are going to need to actually read things. I get using it as a learning tool, but I can envision it becoming a crutch. We already have gps giving us exact directions. There’s a point where we have to read and think simultaneously. It’s as all things…what starts out as a smart practical resource gets hijacked into ways it shouldn’t. I’m leery

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I met a few books I haven’t cared for when made into movies. I think the trouble is when you put relatively attractive people in a bad script, the movie is plausible but with books, there are only words and the imagination so the author better “rock.”

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Books to movies most often doesn’t work. I can get round it with myself by trying to think of the book and the movie as being two separate things, not to be compared – but I do still come out of a movie saying to whoever is with me that the book was better. It usually is. And sometimes I won’t see a movie until I’ve read the book. I think that is to do with how important the book potentially is with me – I don’t want the movie spoiling it before I’ve even read it.

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  6. I understand what you’re saying about how movies differ from books, but somehow for the most part I’m indifferent to that issue. It’s like the whole ‘Guernsey Potato Peel’ book versus movie discussion that blew up on my blog a couple of weeks ago… I can like either. They’re just different from each other.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. “Cujo”. The book was so good because you got to see the dog’s point of view and felt a lot sympathy for him. None of that was in the movie (and if I remember correctly) they changed the ending. I hate it when they completely change the ending. Jodi Picoult’s “My Sister’s Keeper”? Why did they change the ending? Just wrong.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I am not sure about that either but I like the acting of Denzel Washington. I think you have to read the book yourself. Perhaps your husband gets different feelings from others.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. My husband is retired army and was just telling me a story about him realizing this guy in the mall ( a near by deserted mall) with not a great reputation ..he went to get some stitching done for a Army hat…anyway, not many people there less than 10 checking him out and then following him. As he told me about it, I asked him as he lost the guy to teach me some protective moods and the ability to sense this and he told me, “You would need to join the army.” We all have different experiences.

        Liked by 2 people

  8. I can’t think of one off the top of my head, but it made me think of a story James Patterson told about the film adaptation of his novel, “Along Came a Spider.”

    He’d been a special guest at the movie premiere and was puzzled about the addition of one of the female characters. At the after party he asked Morgan Freeman (Alex Cross) who that woman was.

    “Oh, that’s Alex’s sister.”

    “Huh,” said James. “I never knew Alex had a sister.”

    In this case, they’d added a whole new character to the script.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I love this discussion! OK, I agree that they did a great job with Harry Potter. Usually I refuse to watch a movie version if I loved the book. The disappointment stings. One move they messed up: Walk in the Woods with Robert Redford. The book is so much better!! One I liked: The Help — great book, great movie (IMHO).

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I can’t recall an example to fit your question. I always try to read the book first. If I see the movie, I usually won’t then read the book. I thought they did a respectable job adapting Cold Mountain.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. There are so many that have disappointed that now when there is a movie from a book I know I just watch it as a movie with no expectations. One that really disappointed was The Cider House Rules (one of my favorite books of all time). The screenplay was even written by the original author, John Irving and even he had to cut what I thought was a crucial character from the film. It’s just not possible to fit the depth of a book into a film…unless it’s done in 3 or 4 films like Lord of the Rings!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Love liane moriarty and totally agree that was great adaptation. But they were able to take their time telling the story. Can’t wait for next season of it!!

        Liked by 1 person

  12. For me, it isn’t always that things are changed between the movie and the book, it’ that it almost always seems as if the movie “dumbs down” the book that leaves me feeling so cheated.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I’d seen the movie Not Without My Daughter starring Sally Field numerous times and enjoyed it. But then I read the book, which was outstanding, and realized how much was left out of the movie. I haven’t watched the movie again since. 😔

    Liked by 1 person

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