Thursday, 26 July 2012

Book VS Film - Dear John

Typically, I love a good love story. I love happy endings and I like it when everything works out.

That's usually why I read chick-lit. Despite this, I absolutely adore Nicholas Sparks. He is by far my favourite male author. He has an amazing way with words and every one of his stories appeals to me in some way or another. Not all of his stories have the typical 'happy ending', but you're always left satisfied with the way the story has ended.

This is true of Dear John, the most recent Sparks book I have read. I recorded it on TV ready to watch after I had read the book (because I cannot watch a film without reading the book first, I don't know why it's just habit). I got through the book fairly quickly, and whilst it wasn't one of my favourites, I still enjoyed it. Finally, a week later, with a rare evening to myself, I decided to watch the film version.

If any of you reading this are followers on Twitter, you may have been witness to my recent comments. I apologise now for the foul language! I couldn't have been more disappointed. 

Those who know me will know how much I despise the film Twilight, simply because of the lack of details in the film compared to the book. Half of the stuff in the book doesn't even appear in the film, and most of the scenes in the film didn't appear in the book. I mean, where on earth did the school trip come from? And climbing up trees? Say what? I didn't understand why they would leave original parts of a story out and replace it with their own?

Watching Dear John I was in for a big shock. Not only did they leave vital parts of the story out, but they changed massive parts of it, including the characters. Don't get me wrong, the story line is pretty much the same, but the rest of it is made up. If that had been my story depicted into a film, I would have sued. Well, I would have refused at least. 

For one, Savannah is brunette. They make a point of that in the book. Yet in the film, she is blonde. That didn't bother me so much, especially since I actually like Amanda Seyfriend. 
Ten minutes into the film, you're already half way through the book. They leave out everything about Johns past. They leave out the difficult relationship he has with his Dad. They do mention it eventually, but not until over halfway through the film when it's not really important anymore. 
In the book, Savannah has a best friend called Tim. John knows Tim is in love with Savannah but they become friends anyway. Fair enough in the film, this is true. What changes is Alan. In the book, Alan is Tim's little brother who suffers with autism. In the film, they have changed this completely and have made Alan Tim's son. 
Why would they change it? What is the point? Especially when it ends up changing another vital part of the story. 

Photo Credit


The main plot of the book is this:
John is on leave from the army for 2 weeks. He meets Savannah and they fall in love. He goes back to the army for 12 months and they write to each other all of the time (Hence the Dear John). John comes back and they spend another 2 weeks together, but they argue a lot because Savannah has a life now with University and friends etc. John goes back into the army and is due to leave in 6 months. However, the 9/11 happens and John feels he needs to sign up for another 2 years. During that time he gets sent home because his Dad has a heart attack. He see's Savannah in the hospital and they're a bit distant. John's Dad is fine and he goes back to the Army. At some point Savannah sends him a letter telling him she has fallen in love with someone else and she is very sorry. John's Dad has another heart attack so he is once again sent home to look after him, but unfortunately he dies. John returns to the army and continues to relist until eventually he returns home. He goes to see Savannah which is when he realises it is Tim she has married. Tim's parents died in a car crash and during that time they fell in love. (They had been neighbours since they were children so knew each other well for years. This is also why I didn't understand why they changed Alan into Tim's son). Nothing happens between Savannah and John, and he soon learns Tim is in hospital with lymphoma cancer and is in desperate need of treatment that the insurance won't pay for. After John leaves Savannah, he sells his Dads coin collection and donates the money anonymously for Tims cancer treatment. Tim lives and John and Savannah never see each other again.

The film goes absolutely nothing like this. In the film John only has one leave from the army and that is when he first meets her. The next time he see's her is when he is given a weekend off before they all re-enlist to fight the war caused by the 9/11 attack. It leaves out the visit when they become distant. It leaves out the heart attack Johns Dad has. All it has is the letter Savannah writes him during his first year that she has fallen in love with someone else. After that, Johns Dad dies. Of a stroke. I mean, what the hell!? Savannah has no idea and John goes back to the army until he comes out years later and goes to see Savannah. This is where he learns about Tims cancer. (This is apparently why Savannah married Tim because there was no one else to look after Alan? What now!? She fell in love with him because he had cancer? Okay) In all fairness, in the film John still sells his Dads coin collection, but do you know what annoys me the most?

Tim dies.

Yes, I was so angry with this fact that I decided to blog about it. This won't be my best blog post and it's a very irrational one at that, but I was infuriated. It seems like something silly to get angry over, but I don't understand why they would change some of the most important parts of a book?
Why make it into a film in the first place if you don't want to follow the story!? And why on earth did Nicholas Sparks even agree to this? It completely destroyed it for me, I didn't enjoy the film in the slightest. As a big fan of Channing Tatum I was disappointed. Not by him, he played a great John and it's not exactly the actors faults that the film they happened to appear in was a complete rip-off, but not even he couldn't save it for me.

The same thing happens in My Sisters Keeper. I read the book and absolutely sobbed at the end. I watched the film and yes I cried, but WHY would you change the character who died? In the book, it is the younger sister who has just won the rights to her own body who dies in a car crash. In the film it is the sister with cancer who dies. 
Can someone explain to me what the point in changing that was? It was confusing and strange.

The whole idea of Dear John was about the huge sacrifices that John made. He sacrificed his love for Savannah in order to save Tims life. He cared more about her happiness than his own and willingly gave everything he had to ensure her and Tim could have a life together. It didn't come across this way in the film because he knew that Tim would never live, so the whole moral has gone. 

I do realise I shouldn't be worked up over something so small, but it definitely got to me. I am sick of books I have enjoyed being ruined by the film adaptations. 

In future, if I read a book and it is later made into a film, I will not be watching it.

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