I am in a serious state of conflict. Serious.
My favorite book, Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy, has been turned into a movie* and part of me wants to damn Hollywood and all the people who will go see it and the other part of me wants to be first in line for my tickets and jumbo popcorn.
This isn’t a book like Harry Potter or The Hunger Games** which we all expect to be made into blockbusters and which prove to be quite entertaining cinematic adventures. Although, one could argue that these were bastardizations. I digress.
This is my genre, my story, my life! I take complete ownership of this book and no one else is allowed to love it like me or allowed to turn it into some shadow of the story it is. Only I am allowed to think about the book and to adapt it to the film reel in my head.
Of course, none of this is true no matter how irrationally I feel it.
I worry that this book will be corrupted for me; that the way I imagine Bathsheba will be all Carey Mulligan, and the county of Wessex I designed in my head will be all the cinematographer’s doing—bastard. I’m afraid I will lose my imagined adaptation to this movie adaptation and never get it back.
I’m annoyed that people may jump on the Madding bandwagon. They will be all, “OMG, this movie is awesome. Blah blah blah. I’m illiterate and won’t appreciate the book in its full glory. Blah blah blah.” Posers.
Worse than people liking the film and rejecting the novel are people that will read the book and love it. Enter hipster attitude. I liked it before it was cool, therefore, I am better than everyone else and deserve some sort of badge noting my superiority. Perhaps a pair of Far From the Madding Crowd Ray-Bans.
The most valid concern I have is that the story will be manipulated to please a modern, mass audience with the creation of a superfluous plot line, an over-sexualization of the story, or a touch of gore and foul language to spice things up. Why mess with a good thing? If the creators of the film adaptation felt it in good judgement to alter the story to its audience, they could’ve chosen a different book (like one I don’t care about), or, here’s a thought, come up with a new story.
I’m being harsh. I don’t know if this movie will ruin my life as badly as I anticipate it doing so, and it appears I may not have the courage to prove my theories positively or negatively.
Some readers may be thinking to themselves right now, “wow, this girl is batsh*# (my husband would agree). This book isn’t even that great or one of the better T. Hardy novels.” To those readers, I don’t like you.
I jest (but in seriousness).
Nearly final note. After finishing Far From the Madding Crowd for the first time a few years ago, I mentioned to my then boyfriend, now ball-and-chain, that if we ever had a little boy I wanted to name him Gabriel after Gabriel Oak because, “if ever I had a son, I would want him to grow up to be of the same character and demeanor of this guy.” A week later I found out I was pregnant with a boy, and guess what, his name is Gabriel.
I can’t have the actor playing Gabriel Oak to suck at life or to have the fictional character be misrepresented! Think of the consequences!
It seems all is against me, even NPR keeps telling me that Far From the Madding Crowd is in theaters. What’s a girl to do? Wonder forever or indulge a morbid curiosity? Or, more likely, put it into perspective that in the purview of life’s problems, this isn’t one.
*This is NOT the first film adaptation of Far From the Madding Crowd, but I chose to write about this one because it’s now.
**Katniss Everdeen is named after Bathsheba Everdeen. Small literature world!