Tossin’ It Out There: What do YOU think about the importance of source material?

Ok. So, this week, there’s obviously been an enormous amount of talk about “The Hunger Games”. And not just the movie… several bloggers make comparisons or reference the book in their reviews, as did several commenters here on the review post.

It’s not just “The Hunger Games”, though. Last week, Michael Bay announced he was making the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles aliens… and the internet had a collective conniption fit. This week Tasem Singh unveils his comedic interpretation of “Snow White” with “Mirror, Mirror”, while the myths of the ancient Greeks get raked over the coals again by “Wrath of the Titans”.

Many, many movies can trace their origins back to some prior source material. How faithfully should they adhere to it? Should filmmakers have complete creative license, or should they be bound to it? What are the audiences “responsibilities” in regards to it? Should people have to “read the book”?

What do YOU think in regards to Source Material?


75 thoughts on “Tossin’ It Out There: What do YOU think about the importance of source material?

  1. For me, it’s going to depend upon the source material and the filmmaker. The combination of which will lead to me expect faithfulness or stylish experimentation. And that can work in each case, like with Coppola with ‘The Godfather’ and Tarantino with ‘Jackie Brown’ (based on Elmore Leonard’s Rum Punch). Or, it can work out miserably (‘I Am Legend’ anyone?). Cool subject and discussion, Fogs.

      • Since I’ve reviewing it on Friday, it’s worth mentioning that the source of Cohen Bros. ‘The Big Lebowski’ is Raymond Chandler’s ‘The Big Sleep’. You can’t stifle great riffs on things like this ;-).

  2. I did have another thought on this that I thought would be worth sharing right now… I think a lot of it also has to do with how “definitive” the movie is trying to be. With something like King Arthur, it’s not just the distance in time that makes deviations OK, it’s the fact that there are several dozen adaptations already. Anybody claiming to be making the “definitive take” on King Arthur is going to be laughed at no matter how good their movie is. With so many incarnations, we expect some deviations simply to give us something new.

    But when there’s only one version, such as The Hunger Games, or when they’re trying to make people forget the earlier versions, such as Ninja Turtles (according to Bay, the name change is Paramount trying to distance it from the 90s films), then it is an attempt to be “the definitive version” — in which case, it had darned sure better be definitive. And if it isn’t faithful in such a case, not only will it annoy the fan base — it’s no longer “having fun with” the concept, it’s effectively saying the director has a better grasp of it than the original creator — but it also means there’s a much better chance of someone coming along after in an attempt to “out-definitive” the movie.

    • Yeah, you’re right… that is a good point. There’s plenty of things like that. Sherlock Holmes, Frankenstein, etc etc

      And I suppose TMNT is getting to that point. There’s been dozens of offerings from those characters.

      Plus, if it wasnt Michael Bay, people probably wouldnt care so much. LOL.

      • I’m sure the fact that it’s Michael Bay doesn’t help matters any. But I do get the feeling that Paramount is trying to make this the take on the characters (at least for now), just as, say, The Dark Knight is currently the take on Batman, and that’s part of what is driving people wild as well. We don’t want “the” take to be significantly “wrong”.

  3. Pingback: Checking Out the “Happy-Haps!” (3/31) « The Focused Filmographer

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