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Monday, December 17, 2007

Well, not really. After all, she did get together with George Peppard. I mean, Fred.

Enjoying Tasha's Book vs. Film comparisons for the AV Club and randomly reading the Wikipedia page for Moonraker last week, I was reminded of a fact of life: it's rare when a film adaptation of a book sticks closely to the book's story. I think it's very understandable when a movie tweaks certain things to work in a movie form, but when major tweaks are done -- tweaks to where the movie is almost nothing like the book -- I can't help but be annoyed.

Far more insulting is when a new printing of a book carries a large circle or single-line header that says, "Now a major motion picture!" I understand this is just plain ol' marketing, but it's a kind of marketing that can create strange bedfellows. Moreover, two different stories that may contain certain similarities, but are both sold under the same name.

A very timely case in point: I Am Legend. Richard Matheson's book has been credited as the source for such films as The Last Man On Earth and The Omega Man, as well as the recent Will Smith-starring film. (As a side note, George Romero has credited the book as a major influence on Night of the Living Dead.) Now, I have never read the book or seen any of the three movie adaptations, but based on what I've heard and read, hardcore fans of the book may be very well-advised to stay away from the 2007 version. Plenty is tweaked from the book; so much so that the movie has more in common with 28 Days Later than I Am Legend.

Maybe I'm being too much of a stickler/purist here, but as somebody who's wanted to read the book for a while, I don't want to pick up a copy from the recent, late October printing. Since its cover is devoted to promoting the movie of the same name, what's between the covers is essentially another story.

Further incriminating myself as a stickler is how books are really kind of the last bastion of the written word not interrupted by advertisements. You don't read two pages into the Harry Potter books and see a full-page ad for the recent DVD treatment of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. You don't find a coupon for Joel Osteen's latest book a few pages into Exodus.

Books can send your mind into a world away from advertisements. At least I'm happy I've never read a book with advertising in the manuscript itself. Who knows if there will come a day when that indeed happens. But the point remains: do you want to read a book where the cover tells you one thing, but what you read tells you otherwise?

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