Friday, January 17, 2014

Guest Blog by author Jennifer K. Lafferty

Today we have a wonderful woman with us, Jennifer K. Lafferty. Jennifer Lafferty is the author of "Rebecca: The Making of a Hollywood Classic" "Offbeat Love Stories and More" and "Knight of the Purple Ribbon". Her fiction has appeared in magazines such as "The Storyteller". She is currently an entertainment journalist for Stack and she writes a books column for Examiner.com. Click here for her columns. She sometimes uses the pen name Jennifer Leigh Wells. Besides reading and writing Jennifer's other great passion is music. She enjoys classic rock, soul, indie, and dance. Her favorite artists range from Dusty Springfield to Sara Bareilles, to Jamie Cullum. We are very lucky to have Jennifer with us today she has written a wonderful piece. Enjoy.


Literature Versus Film

Since the dawn of motion pictures, book lovers far and wide, have considered movies to be inferior to meaningful literature. The concept of film as an art form is relatively new. Many of the films which have been deemed classics over the years and embraced by patrons of the arts and the intellectually elite were once regarded as shallow entertainment, generated for the masses. Now, not only is the cinema taken more seriously, but a number of authors are being influenced by the flickering images on a screen.

The popularity of film has also affected the attitudes of readers and what they look for in a book . The knee-jerk response to this phenomenon is usually a negative one. The automatic assumption is that literature, which has the potential to enlighten, captivate and inspire is being cheapened and watered down to satisfy throngs of individuals who were bred on pop culture. But things may not be so grim. As the lines between cinema and literature are blurred, the standards for certain genres of film have been raised, particularly in the indie sector. There has been an explosion of arthouse cinema in the past few decades. It has become clear that there is room for all types of movies, whether the objective is to entertain, theorize, educate, or nourish the soul.

We have reached a point where literature and cinema each take something from the other. Filmmakers and book authors are learning from one another. Literature has benefited from the emergence of popular movies. Novels now tend to move at a faster pace and include more action and dialogue. When you read a novel published during or prior to the early twentieth century, the realization will more than likely occur to you that editors, as we know them today, didn’t exist before the Jazz Age. Even books by literary giants like Charles Dickens and D.H. Lawrence, as brilliant as they may be, come across to today’s reader as something closer to a first or second draft of a manuscript, which has not been tweaked by anyone other than its author. Nineteenth century authors and those who came before them were longwinded by present day standards. They also tended to be redundant and belabor their points. A modern editor would carve up such a manuscript as if it were a turkey. While some readers prefer this style of writing, the majority gravitate toward more concise, fast-paced books, largely because of movies.

Films must tell an entire story, sometimes a complex and multi-layered one, in a comparatively short amount of time. Even if producers were willing to spend the money to make lengthy, rambling films it is doubtful that many moviegoers would be inclined to spend half a day in a darkened theater starring at a screen.

Significantly longer than the average film is Gone With the Wind. One of the things that make the length of Gone With the Wind acceptable is the fact that it is so eventful and action-packed. You don’t feel the time passing. The novel by Margaret Mitchell was so long, at over 1000 pages, that a number of storylines and characters, even prominent ones, were eliminated for the screen adaptation. One reason Mitchell’s novel is so lengthy is because it is so atmospheric, requiring extensive descriptions. This is something that is accomplished in much less time on screen, proving the adage A picture is worth a thousand words. Although atmosphere can be successfully translated to the screen, it isn’t always easy; and the failure to recreate the atmosphere or spirit of a novel in a film adaptation is a common complaint among cinephiles.

When books are made into movies, people typically read the book before they see the on-screen interpretation. However, sometimes there are benefits to seeing the film first. Watching the film often helps readers to visualize the characters and settings. On the other hand, it can also be argued that movies may stifle the imagination, whereas the written word provides the reader with the opportunity to create their own version of the story by envisioning it for themselves.

In some instances short story authors have benefited from their work being adapted to the big screen even more than novelists have. Just think how many times you’ve seen a film with the words “Based on the short story by…” on the opening credits. These short pieces often exist in obscurity until they become motion pictures. One good example is The Wisdom of Eve by Mary Orr, which became the iconic film All About Eve at the hands of producer Joseph L. Mankiewicz.

Both literature and film have had an impact on the evolution of society. The influences of each can be seen in politics, lifestyle, relationships, education and pop culture. Perhaps as cinema and literature grow together instead of apart, with elements of one blending into another, the most powerful and accessible creations in either medium are still yet to come.


If you want to know more about Jennifer, you can find her in the following places:

Goodreads: click here

Jennifer's Blog: Click here

I want to thank Jennifer for stopping by. I really enjoyed the piece. She knows how much I love old movies, and movies in general but I love books more. So this was a very interesting take on the subject of Literature versus Film.  I hope Jennifer will stop by again. We would love to have her.