Thoughts On: Character Looks

“Thoughts On” is a feature where I give my (often rambling) thoughts on a topic relevant to reading, literature, or the book business. To see previous topics, click here.

I finally read Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale last year, partly because the adaptation was coming out and partly because why hadn’t I already read it? The tricky thing about reading a book after you’ve seen promotional materials, though, is that it’s really hard to imagine the characters as anything other than the actors.

Aside from the illustration on the cover, we get no visual clues as to what Gilead or our characters look like—but I’m a visual learner, y’all! Unless a physical characteristic is explicitly mentioned, I imagine kind of like a blurry outline. But when it is? I’m often thrown out of the story. Regardless of whether Elisabeth Moss was how I imagined Offred to look, she’s close enough that thinking of her face when reading didn’t take me out of the story.

Which is where the graphic novel adaption comes in. I loved the book and also really love the TV show. I was excited to experience Atwood’s story in another format—until I paged through the book. I understand that Renée Nault was going for a morose dystopic vibe, but the way she drew the characters is so far from how I now see them that I can’t even pick it up.

The Commander

I won’t say that Joseph Fiennes was my first choice to play The Commander—he’s a little short and definitely less imposing than what I imagined—but he oozes a smarminess that has made me swear at the screen. Nault’s Commander is so old-looking and physically over-bearing that it makes everything he does in retrospect so much grosser.

Aunt Lydia

Eek! I know that Aunt Lydia is a literal monster, but Ann Dowd’s mannerisms and vocal inflections completely sell the character that I don’t need her to also look the part. (Dowd looking like someone’s beloved mother or grandmother over Nault’s Red Skull really highlights how evil Aunt Lydia is.)

Serena Joy

There’s really no way to make Yvonne Strahovski as ugly looking as her fictional counterpart—Nault’s Serena Joy really makes physical her emotional decay—but there’s just something about Strahovski’s acting (as well as a beautiful person being unallowed to play up her looks) that I really love. The show has attempted to make us sympathize with her, and I don’t think that’s possible with Serena Joy looking so gaunt.

Moira

I wanted to highlight Samira Wiley’s casting as Moira as one of the few times where I became disappointed in the book after I’d read it. There are times when an adaptation can improve on the original!

So tell me, friends:

  • Are you a fan of The Handmaid’s Tale casting? Or did the actors butt up against how you envisioned the characters?
  • Are there any movies or TV shows that completely nailed who you think of when you read the book?
  • Are there any that completely fail? (One of the reasons why I couldn’t watch The Passage was because all I saw was Zack Morris with a beard!)

Top Ten: Books I’d Love to See as Movies/TV Shows

logo-TopTenTuesdayTop Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted at The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme was Ten Books I’d Love to See as Movies/TV Shows.

I am too overwhelmed by the thought of these books becoming movies that I have no details beyond ‘give it to me now.’

Movies

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Queen of Babble by Meg Cabot

The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace: A Brilliant Young Man Who Left Newark for the Ivy League by Jeff Hobbs

The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson

A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

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The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon

The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

Lady of the Butterflies by Fiona Mountain

TV Shows

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The Passage by Justin Cronin

Blackout (& its sequel, All Clear) by Connie Willis

 

Five Favorite: Jane Austen Adaptations

“Five Favorite” is a feature on thewasofshall where I lay out my five favorite “x”. Sometimes they’re relevant to a season or holiday, mostly they’re not. It’s an all-around fun excuse to give my 100% amazingly awesome opinion. To see previous (and future) topics, click here. To participate, scroll all the way down.

Jane Austen is one of my favorite authors, not just for the literary foundation she’s laid or the legacy she’s left for female writers, but also for the plethora of films and novels based on her works. In honor of Women’s History Month, here are my five favorite.

Clueless Clueless, based on Emma

EmmaApproved Emma Approved, based on Emma

EpicFailEpic Fail by Claire LeZebnik, based on Pride and Prejudice

LizzieBennetDiariesThe Lizzie Bennet Diaries, based on Pride and Prejudice

Pride&Prejudice Pride & Prejudice

Have your own five favorite Austen adaptations? Share them! Post them to your blog, link back to this post, and then comment letting me know!

Five Favorite: Films Better than Their Books

“Five Favorite” is a feature on thewasofshall where I lay out my five favorite “x”. Sometimes they’re relevant to a season or holiday, mostly they’re not. It’s an all-around fun excuse to give my 100% amazingly awesome opinion. To see previous (and future) topics, click here. To participate, scroll all the way down.

More often than not, the book is better than the film that’s adapted from it, due to its ability to offer WAY more room for intricate plots, characterization, and world-building, details that just don’t fit in a format which has time constraints and focuses on visual story-telling. Sometimes, though, a movie does its source material justice, by faithfully adapting the book into a screenplay without losing too much of what makes the book so good.

Then there are the times when a film is actually better than the source from which it came. Here are my five favorite.

Fight Club, based on Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, based on The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

The Lord of the Rings trilogy, based on The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

Moneyball, based on Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis

Pride & Prejudice, based on Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Have your own five favorite adaptations better than their source material? Share them! Post them to your blog, link back to this post, and then comment letting me know!