A Movie Is A Movie | Letters | Chicago Reader

News & Politics » Letters

A Movie Is A Movie


Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe


Perhaps I've been living in Los Angeles too long, but the notion that movie adaptations of books should retain complete fidelity to the written word is an anachronism [November 19]. It doesn't matter what the germ of the idea is. Once it is in the director's hands, the subject becomes the director's. So it seems futile to review a movie as though it were a book you can watch. The book already exists, and to get an experience of complete fidelity to the book it is easy enough to just read it. A book is a book and a movie is a movie, so therefore, movie adaptations should be judged, I think, only on their cinematic merits. Tim Burton didn't (I guess) set out to copy the original; he was inspired by the setting and characters of Irving's Sleepy Hollow, and tells a different story from that starting point; one from his own imagination. Likewise, the movie Nixon is an imaginative retelling, rather than a biographical, documentary piece of journalism. All of this is OK. So I don't need to know how faithful the movie is. Just how good it is as a movie.

David Croy

Los Angeles

Jonathan Rosenbaum replies:

I agree with you that no director is under any obligation to adapt anything faithfully. The three stars I gave to Sleepy Hollow was my estimation of the movie as a movie. And the thrust of my article--I wouldn't call it a review exactly--was to complain that Burton or the studio claimed that the movie was an adaptation when it wasn't.

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
  Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
  Reader Radical $15/month →  
  Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  →