Novelist Regina Eden Madrigal joins ComingSoon.net in celebrating this year’s International Women’s Day with a special article looking at book-to-film adaptations from a female perspective. She also goes in-depth on one great fantasy novel series she thinks would make an excellent film adaptation. Read on…
When I was sixteen, I discovered my love for books. I began preferring books to movies because the fun lasted for days instead of two or three hours. But as someone who loves movies equally to books, I’m always on the lookout for the latest book-to-film adaptations.
Of course there are the exceptions. I was never able to hold my interest in that massive tome known as The Lord of the Rings trilogy, but the movie still remains one of my low-key favorites. It’s almost a wonder how the movie was hugely successful when it seems like today people are eager to criticize rather than enjoy the art it brought us. Recently, a friend asked me to explain to her why that fellowship was strictly male – undoubtedly straight – and all white? My answer: The scriptwriters were merely staying true to J.R.R. Tolkien’s story. Can you imagine the backlash if Harry Potter’s gender was reversed just for the sake of pleasing critics who probably never read a Harry Potter book in their life?
My friend’s question, I believe, was valid, however. Throughout film history we have seen roles predominantly led by male characters, and despite how now more than ever before female leads are becoming prevalent in movies, the roles are still very limited.
I’m speaking for the female population when I say, we want to see kickass female leads in movies, but are we becoming so desperate that we must resort to sloppy remakes of what had originally been movies that men preferred to see just for the sake of having a female in one of the leading roles?
It seems like every day I’m hearing about another gender-swapped movie, the likes of Ocean’s 8, and the latest, What Men Want. Are these ‘remakes’ flops because misogynistic men refused to see them? We can blame the patriarchy for lost revenue all we like, but let’s take a step back and review before we point fingers. Anyone who’s reading this article, unless you’ve been living as a hermit, has heard of a little book called Hunger Games. Facts: The hero was a strong female character, and the story was unique and epic. Also a fact: The book was made into a movie that not only female moviegoers went to see, but drew in a male audience also.
In other words, if a storyline is great and has a character any gender can relate to, it is almost guaranteed to be a success with moviegoers. And with all the major successes from book to film adaptations we’ve seen with Hunger Games, Twilight and Fifty Shades, I marvel as to why filmmakers resort to rehashing ideas when there is a vast number of incredible books with awesome female heroes that could easily be translated into action-packed movies.
A few years ago I got my hands on a copy of Sarah J. Maas’ A Court of Thorns and Roses book. It was not the first time I’d heard about SJM’s ability to captivate her readers. Her first series, Throne of Glass, was widely popular, and one I didn’t want to dedicate myself to reading due to its daunting seven books in the series. The trilogy of ACoTaR seemed like an easier challenge and less time to invest in, in case Maas double-crossed me along the way (she’s been known to frustrate readers with the unexpected choices her characters make).
I was immediately enthralled by this book. The story takes place in Prythian, a fantastical realm where humans live in separation from the immortal Fae. Mind you, these aren’t your typical Tinkerbelle fairies. They are beautiful, monstrous and sometimes even loving, the likes of which Guillermo del Toro thinks up.
Feyre, our hero, is the caretaker of her blind father and her two older sisters, Elin and Nesta. She has learnt to use a bow and arrow to hunt and gather food for her impoverished family. Her life takes a turn when she mistakenly kills one of the Fae in its beast form. In order to repay the debt for the life she took, Feyre is taken to live amongst the Fae in their Seven Courts of Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter, Dawn, Day, and Night, ruled by the seven High Lords.
Despite her initial aversion toward the Fae, a romance blooms between Feyre and Tamlin, the High Lord of the Spring Court. Her affection for him fuels her desire to save his land from the impending plague that is looming over the Seven Courts.
The story gets even better with the second book.
Since I discovered my love for reading, I became one of those girls who looked for books where the main character was not only female, but could also kick ass, and that’s something Sarah J. Maas always delivers on. She created a dynamic character with Feyre, making her a survivor, while also giving her a side that’s very different from her warrior traits, with her love for painting. Maas also has the ability to entrance her readers with visual imagery. As I saw the images she described so vividly, I began imagining how incredible this would look as a movie.
True, books have to sell in the millions before a movie script is even considered, but I think SJM’s stories could absolutely work on film. She has amassed a huge following of avid readers, myself included, who would be in line to see a film adaptation. Fantasy is huge in the market, thanks to the success of Game of Thrones and The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and Disney is banking on retellings because they know the majority of people want to relive our childhood memories. In fact, what initially drew me to ACoTaR was how it was advertised to be a Beauty and the Beast retelling, and I believe if a movie was marketed in such a way, it would garner even more attraction from people who have never read SJM’s books.
Out of the majority of authors I’ve read, Maas is on point with the elements that make up an entertaining book. She draws out an epic storyline featuring characters that hold a lot of depth, and it is these essential attributes that can equate to a great movie as well.