The Value of Originality on Page and Screen

As many others have, I’ve been watching the coverage from the Rio de Janeiro Olympics throughout the week. Since the networks in my country refuse to show it in sync with when the events are actually happening (despite Rio being four hours ahead of my time), there are a lot of commercials in between time. It was during one of these commercials where I saw a trailer for a film I hadn’t heard about yet, though it sounded quite familiar from the sight of a train, the mysterious disappearance of a local woman, and how another woman is trying to make sense of it all. Then the title appeared, and I groaned aloud upon sight. It was a trailer for the adaptation of Paula Hawkins’ The Girl on the Train: a highly praised thriller novel that came out last year!

Now there may be people who see no problem with it; for they loved the book and figured it will work well as a film. As one family member argues, there shouldn’t be an issue with adapting a book for film so soon after its publication. If that’s the case, then you clearly have no idea where I’m coming from on this. It’s been nearly two years since I last talked about the lacking appearance of originally scripted films, and nowadays, it appears to be happening at a more excessive rate, and thus undermining the value of the life of original content.

What is the purpose of a book being written, generally speaking? It’s to tell a unique story. It’s to give something to read to the world. It’s to contemplate on the possibilities. Never should the excuse be to provide material adaption-worthy for film, and if you are a writer pursuing a book with that intention in mind, why even write the book at all when you can just write a screenplay?

But when a production company does come about, seeing if the author is willing to hand the rights over for the book to be adapted for film, at this point in time, I tend to question the intentions, the background experience, and the timing. Why should this book be adapted for film? What about it makes it screen worthy? What changes will be made that could completely f*** up the entire story? Is this production company notoriously known for doing excessive adaptations, or do they also have had successful experience in producing original content as well? As is the case with The Girl on the Train, how soon after the book’s publication is the production company approaching the author?

Timing in particular is something I’ve grown increasingly sensitive of, especially after watching the trailer this week. To me, I feel that Hollywood truly isn’t valuing the lives of books by adapting them as quickly as possible. I feel that the more of a shelf life books have, the more they are valued for their original form and how the author intends to present them and not for which Hollywood actors can play a particular character. It’s all about valuing the original story over someone else’s interpretation.

Of course, this goes for films as well, for it’s not just book-to-film adaptations that are going on nowadays. Just last month, we saw the release of a remake of “Ghostbusters,” with a response perhaps as double sided as a sharp blade. This is one of many remakes of older films out there, with more along the way. Even Disney is digging back into its vault, as it is going through its previous animated films and then bringing them into live action form (as was the case with the release of the remake of “Pete’s Dragon” yesterday).

As others may argue, why not just leave the original content for what it is? It’s not as if it’s going to be forgotten about, as the Internet makes it easy to discover older films all the time. If it’s a way of maintaining relevancy by using the latest technology and the latest actors to portray the characters, shouldn’t such reliance be placed on story and themes? That’s what truly transcends time, above all else. That’s why I’m super excited for “Moana” to be released this fall, as it’s the telling of an original story (despite one of the characters being straight from Polynesian mythology) where its themes are truly to transcend time.

As I may have mentioned before, of course there is always the possibility of a film adaptation or remake being fantastic. In instances where that happens, then I celebrate them. But I strongly encourage for us to start deeply thinking about why we aren’t getting as many originally scripted films anymore, why an adaptation or remake is being made, and the value of the original content that’s constantly being considered.

A Moment’s Worth is now available through the following venues: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Smashwords, iTunes. Please leave a review if you can, for my goal is to get a total of at least 20 reviews on all venues (so far, I’ve gotten 12 reviews so I’m already just past the halfway point to my goal). Check out its Goodreads page, which includes two trivia quizzes for all who’ve completed reading it already.




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