Book to Media Adaptations · Books · TV

Beyond the Books and Expectations of What is Not in Them in Media Adaptations

           Since 2001, the public has seen several book to media adaptations. I am not calling it a trend because between all of the movies based on The New York Times bestsellers, comic books, and award winners, such adaptations have always been around. As with any movie (or television show), some of the media translations have been more successful and/or appropriate for the screen. Then, there are cases where an individual, or everyone else, is better off reading the book.

            Do not get me wrong, I enjoy watching these movies and television shows as much as anyone else does, but what should we expect from them? As always, many details from the books get omitted and/or changed as part of the transition. This has caused the separation and the formation of book fans and film fans. We have seen this with Harry Potter, A Song of Ice and Fire, and The Walking Dead. Small, but essential details have been left out from both the movie series and the television shows. Many readers had to clue in the viewers as to what was supposed to happen and/or what crucial facts should have been included. For example, how many non-readers know that one of the Hogwarts teachers was a ghost? Professor Binns was not in any of the movies. Then you have The Hobbit trilogy in which too much was added to the original story so that each film could be more than 2 hours long!

            In recent years, we have come to recognize that some adaptations make better T.V. shows than movies. We are realizing this with the D.C. Comics (i.e. Arrow, Smallville, Flash), and we have seen this with Game of Thrones. Based on the (low) fantasy series, A Song of Ice and Fire, the show’s first two seasons are accurately based on the first two books of the series (A Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings). Seasons 3 and 4 are based on the third book, A Storm of Swords. However, given the fact that the series is still incomplete, the writers of the show know how the series will end. It can be said that both readers and viewers will be shocked at what gets revealed as the series continues beyond the books. Is it safe to say that this will be the first time this happens regarding an adapted series?

            Everyone remembers when Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s (Philosopher’s) Stone was released in 2001. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was published the year before. The fourth book in the series and the first movie were released a year apart and there were no concerns about the movies catching up to the books. And yet, in 2007 when both Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows were released within 10 days of each other, it was known that more fans wanted to read the ending than relive a previous book through a movie. Thus, the movie was released before the book. And, there was more media coverage on the book than the movie.

            Now, even with the success of both the T.V. series and the books, Game of Thrones might be the first media adaptation which catches up to and surpasses the original books! And, this will not be like The Walking Dead and/or any anime series where ‘fillers’ are included to slow down the pace of the story. No, George R.R. Martin told T.V. writers, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, the ‘important’ details regarding how the series will end. And, HBO announced that there will be four more seasons of Game of Thrones, which will reflect the remaining books in the series. Martin, who is still writing Winds of Winter and his other novels beyond A Song of Ice and Fire series, will most likely not complete A Dream of Spring until (way) after the final season of the show.

            What does this mean for the devote readers of this series? Most of them have been reading the books since 1996 when A Game of Thrones was published. I have read on a few websites (YouTube included) that some readers will stop watching the show once it catches up to the books. Others say that they enjoy both the show and the story too much to want to fall behind. Then, some are caught in the middle because they are unsure when (or if) Martin will finish the last book and they might not be able to wait that long to see which fan theories are correct or incorrect.

            My suggestion after watching and reading Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, Angels and Demons, and Jurassic Park, is the movies and the T.V. series are always different from the books. You will always hear readers say: “They changed this…,” or “They did not include this…,” etc. Are we really going to stop watching a good T.V. show because it will surpass the books in terms of ‘what happens next’? I was just as surprised as everyone else when the show included “The Night King” in Season 4 of Game of Thrones when we were not supposed to get the rest of those details until Winds of Winter! And yet, it felt like a teaser on what to expect from both later on. Readers who also watch the show will be able to enjoy the twists and the shocks along with those who only watch the show. Then, when Books 6 and 7 are released, we can read everything all at once: what we know and what we don’t know. For example, many of the dream sequences were omitted from the show because: one, it would have taken up too much time; and two, it would have ruined the foreshadowing ‘hidden’ within the content of the story. Characters have been left out and/or names have been changed in order to avoid too many characters and/or an overlap of names (and too avoid higher costs). However, finding out what happened to those characters (with their actual names) will be worth the wait.

            In conclusion, Game of Thrones should continue to be a popular show, but not because the show will surpass the plot of the books. Some will stop watching the show because they are fans of the books and want to keep reading them rather than watching what might occur within the story. However, I believe the shows’ ratings will still be high because all the fans will want to know what happens next, and everyone will be curious as to which episode Martin will be writing. By the time Winds of Winter is released, more fans will be reading in order to have all of their questions answered. I think we can all agree that the next book will be available before or after season 6. Hopefully, by then, we will learn what happened to Benjen Stark.

Leave a Reply