All good things must come to an end and the Fifty Shades of Grey (as told by Christian) trilogy is no exception. Over the weekend, author, E. L. James announced the final book’s release date in a “Save the Date” style teaser along with the promise of an upcoming cover reveal. The author announced that the final book in the trilogy, Freed: Fifty Shades Freed as Told By Christian, will be released on June 1.
Two purveyors of smut and story, two literary giants who’ve gifted us with the steamiest, the sexiest, the naughtiest stuff to ever be in our hands; two individuals, who have used their words to bring us to our knees; two authors who can make our hearts pound—as well as other things!—are going to fight!
Ladies and gentle—please be gentle—men, we bring you E.L. James vs Josh Lark.
Ignoring the broader themes of Chuck Palahniuk’s seminal work, Fight Club, we’re going to do what we do best and have two people fight each other.
Since we can’t talk about Fight Club (see rules one and two), we’re going to write about it. Specifically, we’re going to have two writers fight each other. Three rounds will determine their strength as we go through their power of description, their distinctive style, and their impact on the world at large.
Bring out the whips and the aliens (we’ll get there), let’s have these two authors fight each other.
(Viewer Discretion is Advised)
Image Via Pink News
Now let’s get this one out of the way. E L James wins. Her trilogy, made up of Fifty Shades of Grey, Fifty Shades Darker, and Fifty Shades Freed, has sold over 125 million copies worldwide, over 35 million copies in the United States. Bloody hell, she even set the record in the United Kingdom as the fastest selling paperback of all time!
Plus, in 2012, Time magazine named her one of “The World’s 100 Most Influential People” and she’s even had film adaptations of her works: Fifty Shades of Grey, Fifty Shades Darker, and Fifty Shades Freed.
Simply put, you know her name.
But let’s not leave Lark in the dark, let’s give him his due.
Image Via Amazon
Huge beyond belief, Lark notes that ever since he discovered his attraction to men “he has been writing erotic stories about them”. He tells us that “[i]n his free time, he enjoys playing 7-card stud poker and gay rugby.”
He’s a force of wonder, but sadly he loses this match up.
Point for James!
2-WHO’s more DESCRIPTIVE? Who’s more steamy?
Image Via Deadline
It’s porn vs porn. Who’s the better writer? Who can make us just tremble with their words? As a side note, I don’t give a snot that Ana orgasming with every other touch isn’t realistic, I just want it to be described well!
Let’s tackle this passage from the first novel in her infamous trilogy, Fifty Shades of Grey:
I pull him deeper into my mouth so I can feel him at the back of my throat and then to the front again. My tongue swirls around the end. He’s my very own Christian Grey-flavored popsicle. I suck harder and harder… Hmm… My inner goddess is doing the merengue with some salsa moves.
The phrase ‘Christian Grey-flavored popsicle’ is hilarious. Also, the image of Ana’s inner goddess ‘doing the merengue’ is the strangest image. Both of these phrases, placed so close together, takes me out of the moment. Don’t get me wrong, they’re hilarious, they’re memorable, but they aren’t exactly descriptive. Plus, they take me out of the scene.
Here’s another passage from the last book in the series, Fifty Shades Freed:
He groans loudly and thrusts deep, again and again, over and over, and I am lost, trying to absorb the pleasure. It’s mind-blowing…body blowing…I long to straighten my legs, to control my imminent orgasm, but I can’t…I’m helpless. I’m his, just his, to do with as he wills…Tears spring to my eyes. This is too intense. I can’t stop him. I don’t want to stop him…I want…I want…oh no, oh no…this is too…
“That’s it,” Christian growls. “Feel it, baby!”
I detonate around him, again and again, round and round, screaming loudly as my orgasm rips me apart, scorching through me like a wildfire, consuming everything. I am wrung ragged, tears streaming down my face—my body left pulsing and shaking.
Much better! On a related note, FEEL IT, BABY!
But that brings me to the dialogue. Every so often during the sex scenes, the people talk. Lines like “Feel it baby” take me out of the scene, making me wonder if Christian Grey is unsure if Ana ‘feels it.’
Image via gyfcat
So some of the sex scenes are bad, while others are great with some wonky dialogue thrown in just to knock down our expectations.
Image Via Amazon
Now that’s a picture! On a related note, let’s switch to Lark and see what he has to offer. This passage comes from Now That I’m a Ghost, I’m Gay:
Even so, the tingle where we touched made his thighs quiver at the first sensation of what I was doing down there. When I had first taken Jason’s entire length, tickling under his balls as I did, he bucked his hips forward into my face.
Now that’s a picture! Short and to the point, it’s exactly what we want. Plus there’s this scene.
I only caught a glimpse of him naked, the water running in beads down his broad chest to his broad chest to his narrow waist, little rivers running off the end of his dick…
No metaphors, no comparisons, just flat out smut.
Comparing this to James’ work showcases how she isn’t that descriptive. She leaves a lot to the reader, and thus we don’t get images of water running off the end of someone’s penis like “little rivers.”
When it comes to descriptions, Lark knows just what words to use to make us tremble.
Point for Lark!
3-WHO’s got More Style
GOT STYLE? / Image Via StyleCaster
Humor is a style, and James is hilarious. Throughout the book, and usually after sex, the characters will be forced to talk to each other. For instance, Christian tells Ana that, “I know that lip is delicious, I can attest to that, but will you stop biting it?”
Maybe the line is supposed to be sensual, reminding us both of what just took place and what will take place, but it’s hilarious. You needed to tell her that her lip was delicious? How thoughtful!
Even in one of the earliest scenes in Fifty Shades, Ana and Christian decide to go out for coffee. What follows is a farce. We go through the intricate details of getting the keys, determining what car someone should go in, where the keys are, and how this whole situation, a billionaire wanting to go out to coffee with Ana, is quite insane.
But Lark is also funny. Just look at his Amazon descriptions. They’re erotic, they’re funny, and they come with incredibly helpful warnings. His story about a man giving his sister’s boyfriend a blowjob has a warning that reads:
WARNING: This 5600-word erotic story by Josh Lark contains explicit descriptions of a hot straight virgin giving his sister’s college boyfriend a hot gay blowjob, including forced fingering and cum eating. Pray that your e-reader doesn’t melt before you get to the end.
His story about a gay doctor who has to suck out snake venom from a cowboy reads:
WARNING: This 4900-word story by Josh Lark contains explicit oral sex between two men, anal fingering, and a cumshot that will have you milking your own snake of its venom.
Image Via Teachers Pay Teacher
How are their plot structures?
With James, well, there’s no flow. Her novels retain their fanfiction roots where stories would come chapter by chapter. Plot points are introduced and dropped in the same chapter, which makes everything clunky. For instance, the villain in Freed is Jack Hyde, a publisher who was fired by Christian Grey for harassing Ana. But he actually didn’t care about Ana, and hates Christian because he was adopted into a bad household and Christian was adopted by a millionaire family. But Hyde isn’t the true villain because he’s been taking orders by Mr. Lincoln, a man who has one appearance and is mentioned briefly at the end. Why doesn’t the Ernst Stravo Blofeld of the Fifty Shades universe appear more?
It makes everything seem like it was written without an outline, which some authors do, like Stephen King, but it’s less successful here.
Image Via The Clever Homeowner
Let’s look at Lark for a hot second. Each of his books follows a similar structure: introduce the characters and the premise, the characters get closer, they have sex, the story ends with everyone happy. It’s simple, straightforward, but let’s dive deep back into Now That I’m a Ghost, I’m Gay.
In this story a college student dies and is transported to the shower, where his roommate is stepping out. Oh, no, our main character is secretly in love so him but he never told him anything. Gradually, the roommate realizes that the dead student is there as a ghost. He’s frozen with fear, and our main character writes on a foggy mirror, “I am,” but stops.
What should he say next? That’s he’s dead? Or that he’s gay?
Things go quickly after that. They have sex, they finish, and our main character looks back at the mirror and finishes the sentence I AM with SO GLAD.
See? Every plot point is necessary, and there’s a lot of time spent in the bedroom. We know what we’re getting into, and we know what to expect. It’s like a circle.
Image Via Giphy
Of course, is it fair to compare Lark’s utilizing every page to James just flittering them away with pointless plot points? Is James’ clunky storytelling and laugh-out-loud descriptions a style though?
Image Via bUsiness Insider India
A little history…
Erica Mitchell rose to fame as Snowqueens Icedragon on FanFiction.net, writing Twilight fanfiction in staggering succession. She started with Safe Haven, a point of the story through the eyes of Edward, and later wrote Master of the Universe, a loose retelling of Twilight.
From there, thanks to her large outputs and responsiveness, Master of the Universe continually graced the top charts. Eventually, Australian Publisher, The Writer’s Coffee Shop, agreed to publish her story as a trilogy. Since then her stories have been pulled from FanFiction.net and the archives.
That’s not to say her novels are Twilight ripoffs. The names have been changed; the supernatural elements are removed in favor of BDSM. Plus, she’s added some weird stuff.
Image Via Letter2Self
Christian is an abusive boyfriend.
Take this scene in the first Fifty Shades of Grey. When Christian asks Ana what her hard limits are and she tells him she’s a virgin, Christian stomps around the room before he decides to take her virginity as “a means to an end.”
That’s not mentioning the other stuff.
Plus, in Fifty Shades of Grey Christian tells Ana “I’m a dominant,” when Ana asks him, point-blank, “Are you a sadist?”
Come Fifty Shades Darker, “I’m a sadist, Ana I like to whip little brown-haired girls like you because you all look like the crack whore—my birth mother.”
So he’s a liar who’s having sex with this woman because she reminds him of his mother.
The whole thing is Stephanie Meyer but WAY more problematic.
Image Via Amazon
In Now that I’m a Ghost, I’m Gay our main character sees the boy he’s in love with, and doesn’t go straight to screwing him. In fact, when they see each other, the main character notices the “…widening of his eyes, the hitching of his breath, and the almost imperceptible contracting of his balls made him seem so intimate and naked.”
Note how he isn’t doing anything, besides being dead. They just look at each other and let things go from there. No needless stomping around. Plus, unlike James, who doesn’t tell you about the rampant abuse that takes place within her pages, Lark lets you know all the eroticism that’ll take place in those warnings we mentioned earlier. It’s a “check out the box. Oh, it’s my fault I told you there was a poisonous snake in that box” vs “this box contains so much gooey gold you might just explode if you reach inside it” type of thing.
WARNING: This 4200-word erotic paranormal story by Josh Lark contains oral and anal sex between human men and a male werewolf, at one point partially morphed. If you think the rough punishment sex inside is too hot for you to handle, go read a boring Twilight knockoff and leave this one to the big dogs.
Winner: Joshua Lark
He walked to the center of the field, empty handed. It would be alright, he told himself, they would sort out their differences. It was a misunderstanding, after all, he didn’t mean to call her out like that in the Amazon description for How to Turn a Werewolf Grey. She would come, he would throw his hands up, and they’d have a cup of coffee. Or tea, if she pleased. He looked down at his watch. It was fifteen minutes after three and her car was nowhere in sight.
The grass around him started to shiver. A gust of wind slapped his face. His eyes rose to the sky.
Up in the sky a single black dot grew and grew, slowly descending, the clouds parting to the sides in fear. His eyes were wide. “Christ,” he muttered.
He threw his head to the side. A used condom was beside him. He looked back up, squinted, and with eyes like sniper rifles he saw that the side door to the helicopter was open and he saw E.L. James holding an actual sniper rifle. She fired.
He jumped to the side. She was shooting used condoms at him. They burst around him, splattering around, exploding like bursts of blood. The ground was littered with rubber and fluids. He ran back, but a wall of condoms exploded in front of him. To his right, to his left, behind him, in front of him, all around him, nothing but condoms.
He looked to the ground. Fitting, he thought, and he smiled.
The smile didn’t leave his face because, slithering through the rubber, was a snake. He tilted his head, the snake looked up at him, and he knew those eyes.
What E.L. James didn’t know, what most people probably didn’t know, was that AREA 51 was based on a true story. That snake was a shape-shifting alien, and they had been friends for quite a long time. It was the story of ET, but without the ending and with more sex.
Reaching out, the snake extended his neck, expanding, and soon it became a hose. Gently holding the snake by the neck, he turned and held up the hose, aimed. “Hasta la vista,” he said, and fired.
The horse shot out great gallons of fluid, striking the helicopter, and it spun out of control. Lowering the hose, letting it fall to the ground as it turned back into a snake, Josh Lark sighed, but his sympathy turned into curiosity because E.L. James had dropped her sniper rifle, jumped off the helicopter, and from her back pocket took out a whip. She spun it around her head and, like a helicopter, she slowly descended to the ground.
Her black eyes were locked with Joshua Lark’s.
The snake jumped back into Josh’s hands and quickly morphed into a hose. Josh squeezed the neck and his alien-snake-hose friend fired, but E.L. James was avoiding the blasts, zigging back and forth. Alright, Josh thought, let her come close and…
E.L. James had one hand on the whip, swinging it above her head, but with her other hand she pulled out a squirt gun. The squirt gun had been in the sun, and its fluid was piping hot. Before she would get close, she would fire and he would fall.
He fired at her. She maneuvered to the left, aimed, and fired.
Josh Lark saw the blast coming at him.
It was close.
The snake was in front of Lark, mouth expanded, and it swallowed the fluid. Josh smiled, and tapped the snake on the neck. “Go,” he said, and the snake fired.
James fell, crashing to the ground, slapping into a pile of clear goop.
Josh smiled, the snake leaned close to his chest. “Thank you,” Josh said, “I’ll offer you some tea. You’ve met my husband, right?”
Featured Image Via Amazon, Writer Write.co, and Penguin Random House
You read the title, now let’s get going!
But first, let’s set up one rule: all of the monsters on this list have to be fictional. No non-fiction real people. No, “I read a book on Manson and he was evil so why is he not on this list?” No. All these people are fiction, figments of an author’s imagination.
With that said, let’s start off with:
Image Via Lemony Snicket Wiki – Fandom
I have nothing against children (that’s a lie), but she’s just plain EVIL! From the first pages of A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Austere Academy, you know this girl is trouble, and she is. Duncan and Isadora, two orphans already at the academy, are forced to live in a shack due to not having parents or guardians to sign the permission slip for the dorms. Carmelita begins referring to their shack as the Orphans Shack.
And that’s before our trio, Violet, Klaus, and Sunny, make their way into the story.
When she and Violet have the same class, Carmelita takes it upon herself to poke Violet with a stick and whisper “orphan” every few minutes. Plus, she takes it upon herself to remind the orphans that, well, they’re orphans. Even worst, she calls them “cakesniffers!”, a confusing but still ultimately insulting jab at their…lack of cake?
Image Via Pinterest
Come The Slippery Slope, Carmelita meets Olaf and Esmé Squalor face to face. Without a second thought, she abandons her parents and becomes their child.
Think about it. Her parents sent her to Prufrock Preporatory, a boarding school. I know rich people send most of their kids away for boarding school, but this just stinks that her parents don’t even like Carmelita, and honestly, who could blame them?
When Olaf and Esmé have our trio in their grasp they discuss which Baudelaire to leave alive for the fortune, and Carmelita suggests keeping Violet so they can tie her hair to things.
In the Grim Grotto, Olaf shows his human side with his annoyance at this little monster. Who can blame him? Every moment she’s on the page she just shows off how bratty she is.
You’re a cakesniffer and she eats cake! / Image Via Lemony Snicket Wiki – Fandom
Come The Penultimate Peril we’re on Olaf’s side when he abandons her and Esmé, since Esmé refuses to discipline the girl and Carmelita needs to be taken out back and shot Old Yeller-style.
What does Carmelita do next? She submits a book about how wonder she is to be used as evidence in a potential trial against Count Olaf and the Baudelaires.
Disloyal, wicked, and evil, Carmelita is a true monster. Don’t beleive me yet? Here’s the song she sings over and over again in The Grim Grotto:
C is for ‘cute’
A is for ‘adorable’!
R is for ‘ravishing’!
M is for ‘gorgeous’!
E is for ‘excellent’!
L is for ‘lovable’!
I is for ‘I’m the best’!
T is for ‘talented’!
and A is for ‘a tap-dancing ballerina fairy princess veterinarian’!
Now let’s sing my whole wonderful song all over again!
10-The White Witch
Image Via Wikipedia
The main antagonist of The Magician’s Nephew and of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Jadis is cold hearted demon. Not only did she murder God (Aslan), she enslaved Narnia to a thousand year winter. That wouldn’t be so bad, trees do annoy me, but she made it so it’s never Christmas but always winter.
To make it worse, she persuaded Edmund to turn against his friends with Turkish delight.
I have the right mind to call Jadis Judas.
IMage Via A Wiki of Ice and Fire – Westeros.org
This is hard, considering a lot of the characters in A Song of Ice and Fire are terrible people, but I say Tywin takes the cake. Yes, Joffrey is a psychopath, but Tywin is worse. Here’s why:
He emotionally abuses Tyrion
He uses Cersei as a brood mare
He sends The Mountain off and “didn’t know” that the Mountain would rape/kill Elia Martell and bash her two baby children against the wall.
Worst of all, Tywin is a perfectly rational person. This isn’t an issue of “bad genes” or anything like that. He was disrespected as a child, and thus he intends to never be disrespected again. Now that he’s an adult with the power he always dreamed of, he hasn’t stopped. He’s not bloodthirsty, he’s apathetic. Family is everything, and he won’t stop until he holds all the power over Westeros, no matter what the cost.
Image Via Birth.Movies.Death
I know he’s a vampire and that might be a good excuse for biting people, but going strictly off the Bram Stoker’s Dracula, The Count is kind of a monster. Yes, he has to suck blood, but I’m not going to hold that against him. At his core he’s a predator. There’s no right or wrong that comes into play here because when you need to eat, you need to eat.
So he is even on this list? Well, let’s look at what he does…
He imprisoned Jonathan Harker.
He impersonated Harker so he could commit heinous crimes in his name, despite the fact he can transform and quickly get away, not impersonation required
He slaughtered an entire ship full of men.
He preyed on Mina just to hurt Jonathan and her family
Dracula doesn’t just feed because he needs to feed, he revels in his predator status just to terrify his prey because he finds it amusing. He’s like a shark that tells you, “I’m going to eat you whole and you’re going to want to scream but you’ll be suffocating as you slide down my throat”.
Dracula takes it a one step, and a couple more, from what his nature requires.
IMAGE Via ArtStation
Morgoth, Melkor, he’s known by several different names, but either way he’s a monster. We learn that in The Silmarillion that, after falling from glory, Morgoth corrupted all those in his wake. You think Sauron is bad? Sauron works for this monster.
It was only when Morgoth, after declaring war against the Elves and Men and slaughtering much of them during the First Age, that he was bound in chains and thrown into the void, leaving Sauron to trouble the world, as we see in The Hobbit and the Lords of the Ring trilogy.
Image Via Men of the West, Youtube
Worst of all, according to a prophecy, Morgoth will rise again.
Morgoth, Melkor, whatever you want to call him, he’s the OG monster in Tolkien’s leafy universe.
Image Via McSweeney’s Internet Tendency
In a world where everyone doesn’t listen to each other and people are routinely mistaken for others, Patrick Bateman fades into the background, and he loves that fact. But, subconsciously or otherwise, he leads a double life as a murderer.
Wealthy, materialistic, this Wall Street investment banker does less time working and more time going to parties. Plus, he tortures women and poor people and gays and children. Or maybe he doesn’t, it’s left very vague whether all his killings are actually happening.
She eats it, calling it minty. Twist! Since he doesn’t like his girlfriend very much, he given her a chocolate covered urinal cake.
Image Via Metro
Real or imaginary, that’s…uh…ewwwww
Image Via Bungalower
Annie Wilkes is the scariest character Stephen King ever created. Obsessive, psychotic, and worst of all…human.
She only appeared in Misery, and she certainly made an impression. The embodiment of every obsessive fan out there, Annie finds popular writer Paul Sheldon after a car crash. So she kidnaps him, ties him to a bed, and refuses to let him go until he writes a book. Paul is forced to indulge her every whim lest there be tragedy consequences.
When he tires to escape, he chops off his foot with an ax and cauterizing his ankle with a blowtorch. When his typewriter breaks down, she cuts off his thumb with an electric knife. When a state trooper comes to her house, she runs him over with her riding law mower.
Image Via Inverse
The titular character of Fifty Shades of Grey, Christian is abusive, emotionally unstable, and an all around prick who the author doesn’t think is problematic any way.
For one, he claims he’s in BDSM but in reality he just likes hurting women who have brown hair. Like his mom “the crack whore”. When Ana tells him she’s a virgin, he stomps around the room before deciding that he has to ‘take care of it’.
Yes, he was abused by an older woman, but he refuses to say she did anything wrong. Not only does he refuse to say she did anything wrong, but you better not tell him he’s wrong or else…
Image Via Wikipedia
Not the monster, the doctor who created him. This scientist is the true monster of the story.
After creating life itself, Victor looks upon his creation and sees something that is clearly not human. He sees something breathing, thinking, alive, but less than perfect, and so he rejects it, shuns it from the world.
Image Via Owlcation
The creature seeks revenge against him, but are we to blame the creature? Forced away from the one who gave it life into an unforgiving world, the creature could not thrive, only survive. His vengeance is not just wrath, it’s justice for the mistakes Victor has created.
While he regrets creating the creature, Victor does not look upon the creature with understanding. Instead he calls the creature ‘fiend’ or ‘demon’ and pursues him to the Arctic, intend to kill it. He falls through the ice and dies, warning other not to meddle with life, but failing to teach them the lesson of empathy.
Image Via Twitter
Cold blooded, Victor Frankenstein is the monster, the only monster, in Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus.
Image Via Rhiannon Hart
Humbert Humbert uses language to seduce the readers, and he almost succeeds. But lest we forget: he’s a pedophile, obsessed over a girl he calls Lolita. That’s why the book is called Lolita.
For the record, her real name is Dolores.
Back to Humbert. He marries a woman to get closer to his daughter and, once the woman dies, he kidnaps her.
The worst of it is that Humbert Humber makes himself a sympathetic pedophile. He criticizes the vulgarity of American culture, establishing himself as an intellectual, and considers his sexuality to be a sign of his culture.
A monster, if I ever saw one, but nothing compared to our number one pick…
Image Via AMazon
“The Judge” appears Blood Meridian very early on. We’re following the kid who goes to a revival meeting when a man bursts into the tent and tells the crowd that the preacher up on stage isn’t a real preacher, but a man wanted in three states.
The man who burst into the tent is “The Judge” and you might not know it, but he’s one you have to watch out for.
But compared to the illiterate drunken rapists surrounded you, the Judge is a breath of fresh air. Just look at that first scene! He showed everyone who that ‘preacher’ truly was. He has morals.
If you think about it, that means you’ve put your trust into this monster.
Image Via PInterest
You see, when the Judge burst into that tent he saw the kid. He didn’t just look at him, he saw into his soul. That’s good. Cormac McCarthy never says who the Judge exactly is, if he has gone mad, but if they told me he wasn’t human, if they told me he was the personification of evil, I’d believe it.
Image Via Texas Hill Country
Featured Image Via Youtube Channel Men of the West, Texas Hill Country, and Wikipedia
"Fifty Shades of Grey" author E.L. James aims for consent and political relevance in her latest romance novel, "The Mister."
It’s official: the Fifty Shades movie franchise has made over $1 billion. It’s surprising for many, and thoroughly unsurprising for the legions of E. L. James loyalists out there. The book series was a smash hit in a way that few are. It’s no wonder, despite being critically slated, why Universal adapted the trilogy.
Money, yes. These movies made the studio bundles of cash, especially considering their relatively sparse budget (Fifty Shades Freed was reportedly made for $55 million, which is mid-budget). But that’s not the only reason Universal adapted the tentpole book series. It was tried and true.
Having essentially been market-tested before a second of pre-production was put into the first movie, the studio could rest assured that no matter what they came out with—which, most critics would assert, was no good—audiences would show up. Because even if the movie itself was a bore, enough people would want to see the sensual novel brought to life.
And when Fifty Shades of Grey first dropped, as with any book adaptation, you could hear the calls of internet-frequenters throughout the globe: Can’t Hollywood come up with any original ideas?
Considering, of this year’s Best Picture nominees in the Academy Awards, only one is a book adaptation (Call Me by Your Name), the answer is clearly a resounding yes. Movie makers are more than capable of creating and producing wildly successful original movies, and audiences will show up.
Yet critics of book adaptations persist. There’s nothing wrong with book adaptations. There’s no problem now, in 2018, and there never was. Let’s jump back 100 years, to the early days of the movie industry.
Back in 1918, movies were being pumped out like crazy. Many of the same studios today were around then. Their formulas haven’t changed. Some of the biggest smash hits of the silent era were based on literature: Jean Epstein’s The Fall of the House of Usher, Paul Leni’s The Man Who Laughs, F. W. Murnau’s Faust, or Rupert Julian’s The Phantom of the Opera. Not to mention D. W. Griffith’s hideous 1915 classic The Birth of a Nation.
From The Man Who Laughs, based on the Victor Hugo novel. | Image Via Classic Monsters
Basically, the movie industry’s been aping literature since its dawn. It’s no surprise they’re doing so now. Regardless of a book’s built-in audience appeal, there are other reasons movie makers (not studios) gravitate toward literature as their inspiration.
Books inspire people. It’s not a controversial thought, especially on this site. They inspire you. Just like they inspire you, they might inspire a screenwriter or director or producer to take to their chosen art form and bring an abstract story to life. It goes beyond money. Put simply, books beg to be adapted. The marriage of book and film is as natural as milk and cookies.
Prose fiction is an abstract medium. Though a writer painstakingly chooses the proper words through which to deliver their story, those words can and will be interpreted differently by every reader. Though dictionaries do a good job of giving us all objective meanings, a good writer will not only create, but flourish in their metaphors and ambiguities. The best writers, at least in my opinion, are those like Italo Calvino or Jorge Luis Borges or Ursula K. Le Guin, who trust enough in their readers to give them the impossible to imagine.
Since film is probably the most immersive visual medium we have, it makes sense that the people who’ve internalized the abstract stories in prose fiction will be compelled to translate those stories into tangible reality.
There are legitimate gripes that readers have with film adaptations. Characters aren’t written quite right, or settings aren’t accurate to what the writer wrote. For the most part, though, these sorts of criticisms are unfairly expectant that one medium is capable of capturing and communicating a story in exactly the same way as the other. In other words, books and movies are made of different stuff. You can tell the same story in a book and in a movie, but some changes are going to be needed.
Book adaptations have been around since feature-length movies have been around. It’s not just because studios know they have an audience waiting to see the films—after all, book audiences are much smaller than movie audiences. Book adaptations are as popular as they are because we want to see stories come to life. Audiences and filmmakers alike are genuinely curious and anxious to see how snugly an adaptation fits the image they’ve constructed in their head. In the same way we get hungry or tired, fans of reading want to see the stories in their head exist in the real world. In a sense, book adaptations, even Fifty Shades Freed, are a dream come true.
Feature Image Via Universal Pictures