Page Vs. Picture: A Journey Though The Book To The Screen.
By Geeky Gem
Welcome to my regular look at the film industries adaptations of the written word, Book vs. Film, an article that sees me pit my favourite books, against their big screen adaptations. In Book vs. Film I am going to talk about one of biggest franchises to come out of Britain since, well, since forever.
I am of course, talking about the Harry Potter series. After seven books and eight films, the last film coming out last year, it has all finally come to an end. Although it is sad to see the end of our beloved characters, we can carry on loving them over and over again by re-reading, or re-watching. We can also carry on enjoying them through Pottermore, the new website from J.K Rowling. Anyway that is a discussion for another time. We will start with the first book in the series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.
I first read this book, as the producers were casting the film, and the first four books were out. Needless to say I was a little late getting to the party. I bought the book not really knowing what I was about to read. Actually, I bought the first four books all at once. Well, the very minute I started this book, I knew I would find it hard to tear myself away from it, and in fact, I don’t think my family saw much of me for 3 days. I just couldn’t put it down. So what is it about I hear you cry? Well if you don’t know where have you been?
Harry Potter tells the story of a young boy, who lives with his unforgiving Aunt and Uncle, after the untimely death of his parents. His Cousin is not a very nice boy, making sure Harry is made unhappy at every possible opportunity. However Harry has a little secret, one that he is yet to discover. He is in fact a Wizard. Harry is about to go to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, where magic, friendship and mystery await.
Time for the film I think. Now the film came out in 2001 and was directed by Chris Columbus. The screen play was written by Steve Kloves, with help from J.K. Rowling. In the USA, the film is called Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, the reason for this is, that it was thought a risk that the average audience member would know what a Philosopher was!!! Lest we forget, there was a lot riding on this film, if it had done badly, the series would not have continued, as we have seen with the Eragon movie.
Now I didn’t get round to see this in the cinema, I only had it on DVD. The story follows the book as closely as it can, and seen as this was the smallest book in the series, I think it was the easiest. However, this did not mean that parts were not missed out. This happens in all adaptations and this film really is no different. A few things are changed for convenience as well. For one thing, a character I really love in the book is not in the film, Peeves the Poltergeist. Now the sad thing is, that he was actually cast and was going to be played by Rick Mayall. However, the film makers had to sack Mayall after he kept swearing in front of children in the cast. Other things that were changed were, the first meeting of Harry and Draco, which happens in Diagon Alley, not Hogwarts, and Neville never tries to stop them from going after the stone. But he does serve detention with them in the forbidden forest.
Other than these small changes in locations and meetings, very little is changed between the book and the films. However, this is the smallest book and from here on in, they only got bigger and the films got longer, with The Deathly Hallows, being split in to two parts. This gives us eight films in all.
Is the book better than the film? Now this one is already really tough, as I like the film and the book. To sum up the reason why I like the book, it’s fast following, easy to read, but hard to put down. It is a great story for kids and adults alike, (I think that’s why we have two different covers, one for kids, and one for adults). The detail in the book is really good, and you feel like you’re at Hogwarts.
The film, on the other hand, is rich in its locations, they managed to find the feel of Hogwarts that is in the book. It’s grand, it’s picturesque, it has fantastic vistas. This is by no means the only thing the film has going for it. The CGI work is really good as well, as are the adaptations of the book to the screen play. The direction is also worth a mention, Chris Columbus stayed on to direct Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, the honour of directing The Prisoner of Azkaban, went to Alfonso Cuaron, and let’s not forget, Columbus wrote The Goonies.
The film is held together by its fantastic cast, and I mean all of them. From Daniel Radcliffe to Warwick Davies (Wickett the Ewok to people of a certain age). In this age of CGI this was the film to show off some of the new technology of the time and it shows. (However it has already shown its age).
I seem to have digressed again, back to the task in hand, the question of what reigns supreme, the Book, or the Film? This week, I will have to go with the Film, and this really is because of the cast, and the reworking of great source material. I think some part of this goes to the late great Richard Harris.
So that’s Book 0 – Film 1.
Come back next week, when I’ll take another look at another Book vs. Film, who shall win next week?