E: If you and I were at a party together, chances are good the talk would turn to books and movies and TV (let’s face it, if we’re at the same party, that’s going to happen) as well as adaptations of books into movies and TV. That’s my idea of a nerdy good time, and happily it’s not an uncommon occurrence. And so if you and I were standing together in a friend’s kitchen at this hypothetical party, I would probably say to you what I’ve said many times on this blog – that when I really love a book it takes multiple viewings of the film adaptation before I can even appreciate the work for what it is, because my mind is so busy reconstructing and reordering the original.
You probably know the kind of adjustment process I mean. For instance, Faramir wasn’t supposed to be tempted by the ring, and how many years later does that sin against his nature rankle? If I decide to read all the Song of Ice and Fire novels before the current season of Game of Thrones finishes airing, will the show be as much shocking fun if I know what’s coming? Also, why do the muttations look like hopped-up pit bulls instead of tribute-flavored wolves, do you think – is that for distance from Twilight’s werewolves, and does it really matter? Holy cow, do you realize that the 2005 version totally relocated the moment when the leads fall in love from Pemberley to the ballroom at Netherfield? That’s blasphemy! Heck, I still can’t figure out whether The Hobbit was a good movie or not and it’s been how many months?
But strangely enough, that trouble with adaptation turned out to be the greatest gift of the lately completed Pride and Prejudice modernization, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, which I loved unreservedly and mourn in the same fashion. What made them so wonderful, in some ways, was the previously unknown-to-me miracle of book-to-web-series translation. Twice a week (sometimes more, O blessed months of January and February!) I received an perfect bite-sized portion of one of my favorite novels updated as a modern vlog, easily accessed online so I could watch again and again, so I could break down the beats and the sentences and decide how I felt about them. I wasn’t struggling under the weighty challenge of figuring out the whole adaptation at once. With each unfolding petal, there was anticipation, there was the chance to debate, there was room to appreciate (or disapprove) the choices the creative team made. And because it’s a modernization as well as an adaptation, the possibilities for wonderful surprises seemed even larger. Somehow, it was more thrilling that I knew generally what was coming, and could speculate endlessly on the precise details.
In short, it was heaven. I think it is my new favorite mode of adaptation.