Friday, March 18, 2011

The power of a great story

This might be a mish mash of a post, so bear with me. One of the smaller entertainment news stories this week was the casting of Katniss in The Hunger Games movie.

The director cast Jennifer Lawrence, acadamy nominated star of Winter's bone. I haven't seen it yet, but from all accounts, she will make a great Katniss. Not only was Entertainment weekly keeping track of the casting, but so was my favourite Gossip site, Lainey gossip, two very different websites, but both very invested in the source book, because they loved it.

And hey, I can't fault them for their good taste and I'm thrilled that YA is getting the attention it deserves for the varied and excellent story telling in this genre.

But it makes me want to shout out for romance. Why does this genre get no respect? A new movie adaption of Jane Eyre came out this week. What is Jane Eyre, but a wonderful romance, written two hundred years ago.

Romance novels, on the rare occasion, they are made into movies, are relegated to movie of the week. Even chick lit gets more respect from the movie world. Something Borrowed, the movie, is getting released this week.

Hell, a movie about two cowboys falling in love got nominated for an oscar. So why don't romance novels get any respect. A lot of romance novels incorporate action, compelling conflict, drama. I would be first in line if a movie got made from one of my favourite romances, but it seems unlikely.

Why don't our great, (written in the past 30 years) romances get the credit they deserve outside the romance genre?


Stephanie Doyle said...

Excellent question!! I feel the same. So many great stories are... at their heart... great romances. Yet we still struggle to gain respect. (Happy to hear about another Jane Eyre... I have watched every adaptation.)

But so many times I feel like "romantic comedies" - the only romances being made... fall short of our genre.

For me one exception... "Life As We Know It" - Catherine Hagel and Josh Dumel - they are singles who have to raise a child together after their best friends die in an accident...Great romance movie.

I felt I could have been reading an Superromanc or Single Romantic Contemp. Real feelings. Real conflict. Strong emotion. I liked it.

Molly O'Keefe said...

ooohhhhhh Jennifer Laurence is going to be amazing in that role. Amazing. Very excited - who have they cast as the boy's, do we know? Speaking of romance....

I liked Life As We Know It, too. Josh Duchemel despite all his good looks, seems like a guy I could know.

I do think great romances get made - they just don't come from Romance Novels. the Shadow and The Star would make a pretty compelling movie if they just cleaned up the ending...
remember Remains of the Day? Oh, the romance.

what romance novel do you want to see made into a movie?
the Shadow and The Star
Dream a Little Dream...oh, that'd be good.

Eileen said...

Okay. Ready for my opinion? Romance novels don't make great movies because so much of the action is internal and not external. A lot of what's happening has to do with the dichotomy between what the characters are saying/doing and what they're actually feeling/thinking. I don't think that plays out as well on screen as it does in a book.

Maureen McGowan said...

I agree with Eileen on the movie adaptation thing.
Sometimes the best stuff in a romance happens in the characters' heads.

But to play devil's advocate with myself... it's not like actors can't portray that great stuff. They have for the love story portions of other movies..

Regardless of movie adaptations, romance novels don't get the respect the great ones deserve.

Sinead M said...

True, if a book is too introspective it makes it more difficult to make a movie of it.
But some of those early Madeline Hunter medievals, or Maggie Osborne, enough happens in those to make a compelling movie.

Simone St. James said...

I'm with Sinead on this one. After all, they made a movie of Remains of the Day, which was hardly action-packed.

Heaven, Texas would make a kick-ass movie.

Molly O'Keefe said...

ugh - I watched Love and Other Drugs last night - what in the world was that movie? Part pharmaceutical history lesson, part gratuitious nudity, part Gyllenhall's shoulders and hair, all WTF? Honestly, I had some beers, but never have I been so puzzled by a movie. never.

That is how contemporary romance is depicted at the box office - we need Nora Ephron back. Where'd she go?

fakesteph said...

My guess would be audience. Romance novels have a very specific audience. That audience will watch movies of the week, but because their husbands and kids probably won't go with them, there is no potential to make money on a theatrical release.

And just like some of the other commenters have suggested, the internal conflict is also an issue. It works in great independent cinema, but again, the target audience of these books aren't the type to watch independent films (generally speaking).

Eileen said...

I'm wrestling with this. I think a good actor can make internal conflict compelling without a lot of action (Colin Firth in The King's Speech, anyone?). So it can't just be the internal vs. external thing.

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