Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte and F. Scott Fitzgerald each have their place in today’s society. However, it may not be what they envisioned.
Instead of being regarded for their classic novels, their detailed storytelling and character development, these authors’ names are recognized in a different capacity, all thanks to the jump from page to screen.
These famous books are no longer commonly read by our generation; many are more likely to see a film based off of the book rather than reading the book.
While these film adaptations keep the greats alive, it is not a true representation of the impact they had on the publishing world.
And these film adaptations are never completely accurate, which helps skew the original message of these authors.
According to the article “Film Adaptations of literature for page to screen,” by CCTV News, “It has been estimated that a third of all films ever made were adapted from novels. If you count other literary forms, such as dramas or short stories, that estimate might well be 65 percent or more.”
However, society–especially younger generations–are sometimes unfamiliar with the novels these popular films are based on.
But sometimes all it takes is a film to inspire those to read the classics and keep them present in our society.
Foreign literature researcher Yan Beiwen said, “The impact of movies on literature has been very big. For non-literature lovers, the first choice is probably movies. But sometimes a good movie can inspire people to read the novel that the film is adapted from,” according to CCTV’s article.
But sometimes the reason a film adaptation may be more popular than the original book is because it gives audience members a definite image.
They no longer have to imagine the appearance of each character, they no longer have to picture how a character would walk and talk, and they no longer have to dream up a setting: the hard work is done for them.
Yet, if audience members fail to read a book before they see the film version, these interpretations of character and setting will influence the way they perceive the novel.
According to the article, “What Makes a Good Book-to-Film Adaptation?” by Tasha Robinson, “But if book-to-film adaptations can fail by being too faithful or by being not faithful enough, what’s left? And is it fair for people who have read the book to complain about it not giving them something new, when it’s still serving a purpose by accurately bringing the story to people who haven’t read the book? Is it possible to please or even serve both audiences? What makes a good book adaptation, anyway?”
I once heard that nothing is original–that everything written is formulated off of another idea. Maybe this is done because it is best to stick with what you know, or maybe it is the easiest and fastest way to gain a profit–whether or not the reasoning, these film adaptations make an impact on the original novel, both positively and negatively.
I still believe that reading the classics–”Pride and Prejudice,” “Jane Eyre” and “The Great Gatsby”–before they debut on the big screen will allow you to develop a sense of the characters and plot in a way that is specific to your stream of thinking.
This way, nothing will influence your opinion on one of the classics–something a film and our generation have the potential to do.
CCTV states, “Neither fiction nor film is superior to each other, but they certainly are different in their aesthetic and psychological effects. From text to film, what is lost? And what is gained? Maybe the answer is not important. The only thing that matters is whether it is accepted by audiences in this modern era.”
But what should be important to this era is maintaining a sense of authenticity-not only to the classics, but to your imagination as well.
Sam Norton can be contacted at