This article contains movie and book spoilers.
The next time you leave a movie theater having watched an adaptation of a beloved novel or comic book, strain your ears a little and you might just be able to hear the voice of a disgruntled fan muttering, "the book was better..." under her breath. And those disgruntled fans are far from wrong. So many children's book movie adaptations leave the darkest, most disturbing material from the source out of the film.
Love it or hate it, translating a story from one medium to another is nearly impossible without changing something to make the transition work, whether it's altering characters or plot elements or chopping out entire sections of narrative. This is usually done to improve the pace of a story, focus on the most cinematic (action-based) elements of the story, appease studio directives (i.e. get the rating to justify the budget), or because a creative team wants to make its mark on a story. Whether these changes work or not is subjective, although dark material left out of adaptations often changes to the tone of a story.
What about those changes made purely to soften the sharper edges of a story? This happens a lot in children's films, but there are cases of movies for adults omitting or censoring controversial elements from the source material. Sometimes it's to appeal to a wider audience, other times because cinema is a visual medium, which makes things a lot more graphic and disturbing than they are on the page.
Here are some of the disturbing details left out of movie adaptations.
- Photo: Warner Bros.
- Photo: Buena Vista Distribution
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- Photo: RKO Radio Pictures