In the vast majority of cases, movies should not be based on books. There are several reasons for this:
1) No film could possibly portray the idiosyncrasies and internal struggles of characters that are written well. When the characters are good, why cheapen them with simplistic reproductions?
2) It creates lazy people who refuse to read good books because they have seen or will see the movie.
3) The imagination is stifled because all of the visuals the mind creates for the book are defined by the film maker.
4) When an author excels at writing dialogue, one can be sure that the film is going to mess it up.
5) Directors want to have an “artistic vision” for their films, which means changing the story to fit their own agenda and motivations.
There are more reasons; these were just the ones that came off the top of my head. The reason for writing this post, however, is to discuss an exception. What is this exception, you ask?
The Princess Bride.
I have a hard time believing that anyone, anywhere in the entire world has not seen this movie. It has been dubbed in 3,187 languages, shown more times than any movie in the history of theater, quoted 713% more often than all other films put together, and more erotic fan fiction has been written using its characters than even Twilight. (I didn’t check any of those facts, but I don’t have to because they’re obviously right.)
But here’s the thing. It was a book first! I won’t claim to have grown up knowing this. I grew up with the movie, as has everyone since its original production somewhere around the time of Noah (what staying power!), but it wasn’t until my late teens that I learned of the novel.
Now, maybe I’m not qualified to say how the movie stands up to the novel, since I’d seen the movie at least 700 times before reading the book. Most people aren’t upset at a book after being a fan of the movie, but every single person who has ever loved a book-become-film has wanted to murder the director of said film. These things being said, I’m granting myself the qualifications to judge this movie in comparison to the book because, as is obviously apparent, I can be completely objective on this topic and also avoid hyperbole.
What I’m not going to do is say that the movie is as good as the book. The movie is closer to my heart, yes. If I had to choose one, I’d choose the movie, which is saying a lot because books are inherently better at developing characters than films, and I take my fictional characters with such a degree of seriousness that most psychologists would be worried. The book is better, no question.
But Princess Bride: The Movie is the most perfect, most awesome adaptation of a book in the history of things. And why is this, do you ask? Because the novelist of the book also wrote the freaking screenplay. Taking this into consideration, I am making the following demand which, when I am king of the world (I predict ten years, tops), will be implemented as law: all screenplays based on books shall be written by the original author. And I know some of you film snobs are going to say, “But writing a script is way different than writing a novel!!!” To you, I say this: you clearly don’t understand awesome things. In my completely open-minded and objective way, I declare myself right and you wrong. Fin.