Book or Movie?

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AuthorTopic: Book or Movie?
Infiltrator
Member # 10578
Profile Homepage #50
My mom made me read "I kissed dating goodbye" by Josh Harris. My girlfriend thought that was rather funny. :P

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Posts: 432 | Registered: Tuesday, September 18 2007 07:00
Councilor
Member # 6600
Profile Homepage #51
Originally by Student of Trinity:

quote:
Well, in principle. And maybe even in practice. But I still wonder if it's really possible for any work of art to be almost great.

There seems to me to be a sort of great divide in artistic merit. If a work doesn't reach threshold, even its best elements suffer from their lousy context, and don't really work. Past a certain point, though, even features that would otherwise be flaws become interesting and effective quirks.

So I postulate a quality gap, within which no art is possible. Or at least, it must be very difficult to remain poised within this range. As a rule you're automatically either better than that level, or worse.

So I seem to be denything the possibility of the 'flawed masterpiece'. Maybe it's just sour grapes: if it's flawed, I want to say it was never a masterpiece anyway. Hmmm.

Anyway, I propose that taking a book from below the quality gap and turning it into a movie that rises above it isn't really making the book into a movie, but just making a movie that draws some inspiration from the book. You can draw some inspiration from anything at all if you like.
I guess I really don't know enough about movies to make a good case about bad books to good movies. Heck, books are really the only medium I know enough about to draw conclusions about.

But I haven't run across the line separating good books from the bad ones. Instead, it seems to be a continuum. And I know that I've read a lot of tolerable to good books that could have been much better if just a few things had been changed.

For instance, I think I brought up a book (forgot the title; I do that a lot) a long time ago where the main character got knocked unconscious for the climatic battle, so the reader misses out on it. It didn't make a great deal of sense for that to have happened and it completely destroyed the tension to have the character wake up a day or two later and find everything resolved. That ending turned what had been a decent book into a bad one.

Or, Dikiyoba just finished reading Dies the Fire. A great piece of apocalyptic fiction, but the more the main characters told themselves not to think of what life must be like in the cities, the more Dikiyoba wanted to know about it. The book had the potential to be so much better if it included another main character managing to survive in the city.

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Episode 4: Spiderweb Reloaded
Posts: 4346 | Registered: Friday, December 23 2005 08:00
Electric Sheep One
Member # 3431
Profile #52
I think the gap happens higher up than those examples. It's easy for decent books to be a bit better or a bit worse. But greatness is, according to my theory, a yes/no proposition.

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Posts: 3335 | Registered: Thursday, September 4 2003 07:00
Councilor
Member # 6600
Profile Homepage #53
But I described my second example as great, so we must be using different definitions of greatness here. My definition of greatness includes anything that is really, really, really good, though not necessarily perfect. Your definition seems to be limited to things that are unquestionable masterpieces (and hence perfect). So, depending on the definition of greatness used, either of our theories could be correct.

Dikiyoba.

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Episode 4: Spiderweb Reloaded
Posts: 4346 | Registered: Friday, December 23 2005 08:00
Nuke and Pave
Member # 24
Profile Homepage #54
quote:
Originally written by Student of Trinity:

I think the gap happens higher up than those examples. It's easy for decent books to be a bit better or a bit worse. But greatness is, according to my theory, a yes/no proposition.
If you define masterpiece to be flawless, it's impossible to have a flawed masterpiece. :)

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Be careful with a word, as you would with a sword,
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However well placed word, unlike a well placed sword,
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Posts: 2649 | Registered: Wednesday, October 3 2001 07:00
Electric Sheep One
Member # 3431
Profile #55
But see my point is that a great work actually tilts the standards of quality in its favor, so that features that would be flaws in any lesser work cease to be flaws in its case.

It's a bit like genre. It's not a flaw in a western for an important new character to ride into town, out of nowhere, in the last third of the book, because that's how things are in frontier towns, and it's accepted as part of the genre. But that would be a terrible flaw in a country house whodunit, where the closed set of suspects is a basic requirement.

A great book in effect defines itself as a genre all its own, and this is what makes the quality gap: above a certain threshold, books leap directly to flawlessness.

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We're not doing cool. We're doing pretty.
Posts: 3335 | Registered: Thursday, September 4 2003 07:00
Infiltrator
Member # 5567
Profile Homepage #56
I think that the book is always better than the movie beacuse you can imagine the scenes yourself instead of looking at other people visions of them, and because with most book-based films they are missing so many of the things in the books. Of course, there are always exceptions (LotR films).

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Posts: 576 | Registered: Wednesday, March 2 2005 08:00
Law Bringer
Member # 335
Profile Homepage #57
quote:
Originally written by JadeWolf:

Of course, there are always exceptions (LotR films).
Are you claiming that the films are better or just that they're not missing anything from the books? The latter is demonstrably false, and the former would make me very sad.

—Alorael, who doesn't think everything benefits from having the scenes imagined any more than having the Mona Lisa described beats seeing the real thing (or a facsimile).
Posts: 14579 | Registered: Saturday, December 1 2001 08:00
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Member # 6600
Profile Homepage #58
Originally by Student of Trinity:

quote:
But see my point is that a great work actually tilts the standards of quality in its favor, so that features that would be flaws in any lesser work cease to be flaws in its case.

It's a bit like genre. It's not a flaw in a western for an important new character to ride into town, out of nowhere, in the last third of the book, because that's how things are in frontier towns, and it's accepted as part of the genre. But that would be a terrible flaw in a country house whodunit, where the closed set of suspects is a basic requirement.

A great book in effect defines itself as a genre all its own, and this is what makes the quality gap: above a certain threshold, books leap directly to flawlessness.
I've thought about this some more but I still can't see this "quality gap".

I can see a book doing things that would be a flaw if badly done but an asset if done well, but that doesn't necessarily make a book great, or that a great book necessarily has to do so.

While I can imagine a flawless novel--one that I wouldn't change a thing about if I could--I can also imagine a novel with a single flaw. And not something I'm just curious about or that I would have liked to see more of but something that I felt was actually wrong or missing. I would define both of those as great, though the second novel wouldn't be quite as great as the first. And a third novel with only two flaws would be great as well, but not as great as the first two.

If anything, I think great books accentuate their flaws. Lesser books are just read, but great books are to be contemplated. A lesser book can get away with a predictable plot twist, but a great book can't. If So-and-so in a mediocre book doesn't have much character development, it doesn't really matter, because several of the other characters probably don't either. But if So-and-so in a great book doesn't have much character development, then it could easily be a flaw, because the rest of the characters do.

(Of course, at this level of greatness, flaws are highly specific and highly subjective.)

Dikiyoba.

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Episode 4: Spiderweb Reloaded
Posts: 4346 | Registered: Friday, December 23 2005 08:00
Infiltrator
Member # 5567
Profile Homepage #59
quote:
Originally written by Alorael:

quote:
Originally written by JadeWolf:

Of course, there are always exceptions (LotR films).
Are you claiming that the films are better or just that they're not missing anything from the books? The latter is demonstrably false, and the former would make me very sad.

—Alorael, who doesn't think everything benefits from having the scenes imagined any more than having the Mona Lisa described beats seeing the real thing (or a facsimile).

Hm, I didn't say that very clearly. I meant that LoTR films are quite good films, even though they are missing many things from the books.

--------------------
How many shapers are there?
Why is Drypeak controlled by Zakary?
Why is Barzahl a Guardian?
How does the Geneforge work?
What's as small as nothing?
Why am I asking stupid questions?
--------------------------------
Shaper teacher : "DON'T TOUCH THAT!"
BOOM!!
apprentice :*little voice* "Sorry..."
---------------------------
CSM RIFQ
Neopets Do join, it's fun. Do you know what is the answer to the greatest question ever? It's here.
Posts: 576 | Registered: Wednesday, March 2 2005 08:00
Electric Sheep One
Member # 3431
Profile #60
The quality gap may indeed be just how I value things, and not an objective phenomenon. Of course strictly speaking it couldn't possibly be otherwise; but I mean that my theory may be even less arguable than it could be.

Nevertheless I believe something of the effect I describe really exists, even if it doesn't go so far as to make a quality gap for everyone. Once something is good enough, it starts to affect the standards by which it is judged, and tilt the field in its own favor, automatically. Heck, I think it works for coffee: at first you get to like coffee because it's just plain good, but once you appreciate coffee, it can be good by being good coffee. Coffee becomes a genre, with its own standards, instead of just having to abide by some external standard.

I suppose I may be particularly prone to identifying genres in this way. I can often see many several sides to an issue, perspectives from which it looks better or worse. But if I like it enough, I start to automatically look at it in every most favorable light, so that what would otherwise be its flaws all melt away.

Not everyone needs to read this way, but I can claim this advantage: I have quite a few perfect books on my shelves.

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We're not doing cool. We're doing pretty.
Posts: 3335 | Registered: Thursday, September 4 2003 07:00
Nuke and Pave
Member # 24
Profile Homepage #61
quote:
Originally written by Student of Trinity:

...
Nevertheless I believe something of the effect I describe really exists, even if it doesn't go so far as to make a quality gap for everyone. Once something is good enough, it starts to affect the standards by which it is judged, and tilt the field in its own favor, automatically. Heck, I think it works for coffee...

This is an effect in psychology, but I don't remember its name. (Where is Thuryl with his Wiki links when you need them. :) ) This effect can apply not only to objects, but also to people. (In fact, I heard about it first in that context.) For example, behaviors that are amuzing quirks when done by some well-liked members here are very annoying when done by random newbies. (These behaviors were originally annoying when done by currently well-liked people too, but as the members moved from the "annoying" to "good" category, their behaviors and gimmicks have moved from "annoying" to "amuzing".)

[ Monday, October 22, 2007 11:20: Message edited by: Zeviz ]

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Be careful with a word, as you would with a sword,
For it too has the power to kill.
However well placed word, unlike a well placed sword,
Can also have the power to heal.
Posts: 2649 | Registered: Wednesday, October 3 2001 07:00
...b10010b...
Member # 869
Profile Homepage #62
quote:
Originally written by Zeviz:

This is an effect in psychology, but I don't remember its name. (Where is Thuryl with his Wiki links when you need them. :) )
I'm not sure if it's quite confirmation bias, but it's certainly related to confirmation bias.

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Posts: 9973 | Registered: Saturday, March 30 2002 08:00

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