The Change From Book To Film

In what ways does changing the medium (book to film) alter the social commentary?

When a classic children’s story is recreated for film many times elements of the story need to be altered. Transforming stories from one medium to another or transplanting them from one setting to another involves trade-offs for good or ill.” (Stahl).  When stories are recreated, and retold many times the process involves altering the story.

Many times the medium in which the piece has been observed first sends an expectation of how one would expect to find the piece in other mediums. For me personally remember the many different Dr Seuss stories that I read as a child. The tone, storyline, imagery and voice inflections were so different from the film versions. I found myself to be very disappointed. Especially looking at the new series on PBS Kids, The Cat In The Hat Knows A Lot About That. In the books the cat seemed to be more irresponsible and looking for fun. This new version seems so tame and scaled back. The cat is more concerned about education in each episode compared to just wanting the kids to have fun.

Another very drastic example of this is in the PBS Kids show Super Why.
Each episode takes a classic children’s story and draws conclusions to help children solve their daily problems. Part of the problem solving the show reveals is actually changing the story to solve the problem. While there is so many examples to pull from this show, one simple concept that has been modernized is that Little Red Riding Hood, has been renamed to Red. She also is always wearing skates.

Many times change is necessary in literature works as the culture pushes forward. As film directors pull the classics and recreate many times we see the final product is drastically different, as the story did not lend well to the visual story line. Also consider how small adjustments to a story could simply be a director’s preference and creative expression. A great example of this is in the 1994 Romeo and Juliet remake movie. Much of the classic speech and is used, but the story setting is contemporary. Even the activities of the characters are more matched to modern day. In one scene the two main characters are dropping acid. This was not part of the original, but was an element that seemed to related to the current culture. 

With a progressive culture always looking to change, improve or modernize the classic works of literature, one might question if the works of the greats will be lost with the noise of the new versions. To some point the works of the greats will be lost. I am personally thinking of all the stories I thought I knew before I took this class. In reading the older versions I have found that I did not ever know the original story. But when we consider how today information is at our fingertips, it is not far fetched to research and find appreciation for the classic work. As it was mentioned in the beginning of this class, many times the hype from a new released story in a new medium creates hype to make the story popular once again. It is just an old product that has been remarketed and branded to a new target group.

Works Cited:
Stahl, J. D., Tina L. Hanlon, and Elizabeth Lennox Keyser. Crosscurrents of
       Children's Literature: an Anthology of Texts and Criticism. New York:
       Oxford UP, 2007. Print.


AIO Classroom, Children's Literature | ENG4010 P01. Week 6, Web. 08 December 2011.