For every single person reading this who belongs to a fandom, I have a tip that will change your life. I swear to God. I’m going to background this first: if I give you the goods straight up, what’s going to keep you reading? See, I have learnt something at uni after all.
Last Friday, I went to see The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. I have been waiting for this movie since it was announced approximately 370 days ago. Or that’s when I found the announcement. Anyway, the closer I got to the premiere date, the more terrified I became. How would I cope if they screwed it up? What if I ended up with another Beautiful Creatures fiasco? Every time I watched the trailer I could pick out bits and pieces that weren’t right. So by the time Friday came around, and I was nestled down in my seat with chocolate in one hand and a frozen Fanta (raspberry, of course) in the other, I was exhilarated and sick to my stomach all at once. But as the lights went down, and the movie started, I felt myself relax.
The movie, in my opinion, was incredible. I’m not big on technicalities, but I thought Jace, Isabelle, Simon, and Magnus were perfectly cast. Valentine was ok, but I had a problem with him not being the put together, suit-wearing sociopath we have all come to know and hate. And Clary? Well she was way too gorgeous. And Alec was supposed to be a lot more delicate in my mind, but I digress. The movie had me fan-girling in some parts and mouthing “What the fuck?” in others. But In every WTF? moment, I asked myself one question: Does this serve the story? Does this get Cassandra’s point across in the two-hour time period that Harald Zwart, Jessica Postigo, and other hard-working Hollywood types had to deal with? And in the majority of cases, that answer was yes.
So Simon was chained up at the Hotel Dumort instead of being turned into a rat. So the final battle took place at the Institute and not at Renwick’s. So Simon was saved by, not just Jace and Clary, but also by Alec and Isabelle. And so what if the Lightwoods’ parents or younger brother weren’t mentioned? (Well, actually, that one kind of bothered me. I mean, come on, teenagers are not allowed to live by themselves. There should have been a fifteen second exchange where we are told that Robert, Maryse, and Max are in Idris). All of this was in service of the story. In the course of my Creative Writing studies, my Creative Non-Fiction tutor told my class that it is OK to twist the truth if that twisting is in service of said truth. Everybody still gets the vital plot points of the book. But Cassandra had over four hundred pages. And she could get inside her characters heads (Have you guys read “The Act of Falling? If you haven’t, click here, and amaze yourselves. Jace is…well, he’s Will Herondale’s descendant. Of course he’s going to be amazing). The poor Hollywood guys don’t have that opportunity.
So how did I reach this sanity-saving epiphany? Well I will tell you. Finally. If you guys get a chance I beg of you to read AND watch The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. Chbosky wrote the book and directed the film. So I read the book first, as any loyal book reader will tell you is necessary. And I loved it. I thought it was a nice, refreshing way to look at the social hierarchy of US public high schools. Then a few days later, I watched the movie. And it was pretty close to the book, as you would imagine. But there were some differences as well. And that shocked me. Because if it were me, and I had the chance to direct a film that was based on a book I had read, there would be no changes. I would simply hand the screenwriters my book and say “There’s your script, just make it readable for the actors.” Or so I thought.
Every single change that Chbosky made to his own work so it would translate to the silver screen was warranted. Because a movie is a lot shorter than a novel. Obviously. So in order for the audience to understand the richness of a story, changes must be made. Parts of the book must be sacrificed. But it was all OK. And with the knowledge that Stephen Chbosky has given me, I can brace myself going into any movie that has been taken from one of my beloved books. And I can be a lot more forgiving. Of course, this foreknowledge doesn’t absolve directors and script writers of everything. I am yet to test this theory on the Harry Potter movies. But I have a stack of books almost as high as my knee waiting to be read. Once I have tackled those, I will sit down and test my theory on one of the most prestigious fandoms of our generation.