“I don’t think man was meant to attain happiness so easily. Happiness is like those palaces in fairy tales whose gates are guarded by dragons: we must fight in order to conquer it” -Edmund Dantes.
Book adaptations are a constant bone of contention for Book Lovers. Do we want to see our favorite works beautifully depicted on screen a la Game of Thrones? Or are we outraged by the humorous defilement of a definitely not humorous body of literature in School of Thrones? (Note: Regardless of sexposition in the former, and lack of Arya in the latter, I am a huge fan of both adaptations.)
I take most adaptations on a case-by-case basis. But will instantly and irrevocably transform into a flaming ball of nerd-hate when screenwriters who are essentially transmitting the story directly from page to screen, get a sudden
aneurysm brainstorm and “improve” the ending. Screw things like plot, character development, catharsis, or completing an emotional journey!
Unconventional endings are often anathema to the silver screen. Nevermind that these bastardizations render the core story entirely meaningless. Poor souls who aren’t familiar with the source material in these situations are no doubt left wondering what the point was…..while timidly edging away from the novel-fandom gibbering and frothing at the mouth a few aisles over.
SPOILERS ABOUND BELOW. All referenced works have been widely available for years. The Titanic sinks, the Germans lose the war, and Count Dracula is a vampire.
Consider The Count of Monte Cristo, in which Edmund inconceivably reunites with Mercedes. Oh, and it turns Albert was his son all along (of course he was totally willing to raise the kid as his son prior to learning paternity). Obviously.
Are you fucking kidding me? Did any of you people even skim the book following the it’s-a-smugglers-life-for-me interlude? Edmund Dantes himself wouldn’t accept this ending. SEE INTRODUCTORY QUOTE.
Do you realize you just wasted two hours of my life by turning the definitive revenge tale into a period rom-com?* Hence: flaming ball of nerd-rage.
Back when I was a baby book lover, a new adaptation of A Little Princess was released. Minor change were apparent from the trailer. Sara was going to school in New York during WWI – presumably to make it more appealing to American audiences. Well within the acceptable parameters for a straightforward adaptation. I even loved the interludes where Sara’s retelling of Ramayana was acted out on screen (though, in hind-sight, it completely undercuts her supposed imaginative genius in favor of showing how caucasian imperialism co-opts native culture for its own ends). Why be picky? I was 10, and one of my favorite books was being made into a movie. Yay!
Then Shirley Temple took a shit all over my movie!
WHY IS SARA’S DAD ALIVE?! He dies, okay? DIES. The whole POINT of the story is that Sara’s dad dies. He’s not missing in action. Not conveniently comatose or afflicted with amnesia. D.E.A.D.
This ending will never cease to enrage me. I can’t tell if it comes from some ridiculous notion that children must be shielded from the death, or an even more ridiculous notion that the story is better when a loving dad goes into combat without making any arrangements for his daughter in the event of his exceedingly likely death.
There was a time in which I scoured the internet for any goddamn adaptaion of this book that included the appropriate ending. I found one, which was not available in the U.S. When I acquired it by other means – it was in German. I don’t speak bloody German! Also, Sara was cast 10 years too old for her part.
Before you think this little trick is reserved for classic works, take a moment to consider Hannibal. The sequel to Silence of the Lambs. During which the FBI betrays Clarice, leading to her running off with Dr. Lector in a very bizarre and twisted love (?) story.
Or you can watch the movie and see Dr. Lector cut off his own hand and abandon Clarice in one of his death-houses. After which she can be charged as an accessory to murder, cannibalism, and torture – and then be uncermoniously tossed out on her ass by an unforgiving government. Because GUESS WHAT HOLLYWOOD, that is exactly what would have happened. Did you not retain any information from the rest of the story? FBI = shithead douchenozzels. Clarice = outcast scapegoat.
I wonder if the people who made the film of The Lord of the Rings had ended it with Frodo putting on the Ring and ruling happily ever after, and then claimed that that was what Tolkien “intended…” would people think they’d been “very, very honest to the books”?
So. Screenwriters. Grow a pair. The End.
Bonus round for the extra-special adaptation of The Secret Incest! In which The Secret Garden couldn’t just end with Hey-Dad-I-can-Walk-Let’s-Be-One-Big-Functional-Family, but instead mandated an incestuous epilogue.
Don’t worry, they killed Dickon off in the prologue.
*Bear in mind I totally love Gankutsuou. Because it is a true adaptation. Taking the story and making it something new. Like The Secret Garden Musical being told from the perspective of the adults, or The Lizzie Bennet Diaries dragging Pride and Prejudice to the modern age.