Opening Up About One Thing

In the recent month I’ve watched Silver Linings Playbook and The Perks of Being a Wallflower leaving me emotionally compromised. Allow me to explain…

The past two months I’ve been thinking back to a time in my life, when I was seventeen years old and going through an emotional rollercoaster. There was one point where I felt so insignificant that the forces and everything I believed has deserted me. Leaving me completely alone and defenseless.

Reason why I’m ready to talk about this is because the two movies mentioned have characters that are broken, afraid to open to something or someone they deserve, and have endured pain on many levels.

It was close to the winter months in 2007 when I was in an architectural drafting class my last year of high school. I loved the class, even if my ex was in the class with me. I felt fine though, I was happy because for two hours I could work on programs doing something that was actually meaningful (it’s high school, not many classes were meaningful to me at the time). The class was a two hour block so for the first hour my friends and I would talk and etc and the second hour some would leave and a new batch of them came in. It was in that second hour where I felt miserable. Not because of my ex, although I had my days (c’mon what ex-girlfriend wouldn’t?) but it was because of this junior who hated the very thought of me. Now, I haven’t met this guy before this class and I had no problem with him, but yet… the very thought of me sitting near him (in a seat/desk where I sat in the previous hour) would upset him.

He would call me names like “fat ass” and “stupid bitch,” but I ignored them because I had headphones and assignments to get done. Unfortunately his friends encouraged his lewd comments, so he’d continue until he had his assignment to do. This continued for a month or two until I couldn’t handle it anymore.

In the movies the characters have these moments in their storyline where they snap or break down completely. It’s either because they don’t understand the stress of what is happening or it’s too much weight for them to carry. It’s messy either way. They’ll scream, cry, or shut down and mute everyone else out of their mind.

I’ve finally reached my tipping point. I didn’t scream. I cried. Why? Well, my teacher made this “gentleman” clean up the utensils (you know, rulers with a sharp side, exact-o blades, measuring tape, etc). While cleaning it up and doing his usual routine of putting me down with his words he apparently became inspired. He said behind my back, in almost a harsh whisper, “I’m going to vacuum these up and hope they hit the back of your neck. Or I’m going to stab you with this.” Laughing to his friends as he threatened me. I remember my back stiffening, my eyes swelling with tears. I waited until he was no longer behind me so I could get up and tell my teacher what’s been said. I told him, my voice breaking and lips quivering with fear and anger.

That moment reminded me of the movies because of how fast it happened. I felt as if I blacked out, no longer in control of what’s to happen for a stronger part of me wanted it to end. That side to me was fragile, unsure, just lost.

After I told my teacher I sat towards one of the doors and waited for him to come back. He said he was going to get the vice principal to handle this. When both men have arrived they took me in the hallway to tell me what happened, which I did (again, I was crying). They apologized and looked disbelieved that someone who has never spoken with me would say that. Sitting back in the class room, angrily staring at the boy who threatened me, being called out into the hallway. Door closed. Everyone staring. Teacher returned. Telling me that the boy is being suspended for two weeks. I wasn’t too satisfied, but I was happy I wouldn’t see his face for two weeks.

I’m thinking of this part of Wallflower where the teacher says to his student that “we accept the love we deserve,” and I think the same goes for treatment. I didn’t deserve for someone to treat me as nothing. I wasn’t nothing. I wasn’t anything too special, but I was a human being, breathing, full of emotion, capable of being something one day, and this boy… this horrible nobody (he really is a nobody to me) was nothing to himself. His feelings towards me were shameful, and looking back I think he was ashamed of himself in someway. Or at least God and the cosmic forces were ashamed of him. I found out that a few days into his suspension that he broke both of his wrists. I smiled because he didn’t have a clue how much he deserved that.

I’m writing this to give me a sense of freedom. I know I didn’t really mention the movies too much but there were scenes that open a sealed door in my mind to just let it go. I’m angry at this boy, but I never see him anymore. I don’t know what is happening to him now, but I don’t care. I can’t care. His hatred made me a stronger person, but also a person I’m not too happy about. If someone had threatened me the way he did now, I’d probably be leaning over them, almost growling in anger with white clenched fists. I can’t think that way. He’s a sad person. The people who set out to hurt us are sad people. I don’t need his seal of approval of my life.

I’ll rise from this.

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Our Problem with Book-to-Movie Adaptations

I’ve noticed for a while that we, as book readers, have a major problem with book-to-movie adaptations. Although, this genre has existed about the same length as films have, we still aren’t 100% satisfied with the finished product. A thought does creep inside my mind is that not many of us are aware of the process that’s involved when it comes to creating a film. It is, also, unfortunate that we cannot be directors or talented screen writers to make our own movie or else a number of us would have done that before the actual Hollywood movie was made.

For instance, I know a script is usually, on average, between 90 to 125 pages long because it represents the number of minutes of screen time (this is what I learned in a screen writing class I took my junior year of college). Let’s think about this: a script may go over 125 pages by ten to twenty pages- no big deal, right? How can we expect a 300 page book to be represented in such a condensed style? Even with this knowledge we still disregard the fact that a script and movie can only be a certain length, and that movie goers won’t be too pleased to be sitting on their behinds for an extended period of time.

This is where the buzzard goes off in our heads. We feel that the book we’ve committed to reading should be respected and be rightfully represented on screen- wrong. It isn’t as if the book has been completely torn to shreds, it’s only being expressed through a different set of eyes and minds. Not everyone took the same interpretation from the certain books developed, nor was everyone fond of unimportant details that could have been thrown out. Let’s remember that most films have this phrase appear in the credits: based on the novel so & so by so & so. The keyword is based, meaning only few things of the novel, really the heart of the novel, will be featured in the final film. All things are up for interpretation and if the screen-writer and director go a different route with the book-to-movie then so be it. Let us be open to their interpretation of it.

Be warned, this may include some spoilers to those who haven’t read the novel or seen the film.

Take example the 2011 adaptation of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” directed by David Fincher. I have previously written in another post that I consider this to be a classic film, as well as David Fincher classic. Many were looking forward to this adaptation of the first installation of the Millennium trilogy by Steig Larrson- as there are many not in favor of the cast or making of the movie. True, I had some doubts when I saw Rooney Mara (still an unknown actress to me at the time) taking the lead role of my favorite lead woman in a novel, Lisbeth Salander. After the first trailer, I was convinced they chose to right person. Yes, I have seen the Swedish adaptations (note how I do not refer to them as “originals”). I thought they were decent adaptations, until I saw they left out major details. Example: The method to how Blomkvist figures out that the initials and numbers in Harriet’s diary are actually Bible verses referring to the deaths of women Harriet’s father raped and killed was significant in the book and important. Instead they wrote that the way he figured all this was because Salander was still hacked into his computer and told him how. No, no, no. No. That is not how it’s done. You cannot get rid of, what I considered to be a main contribution, in the film because you didn’t want to commit to it. No. I don’t care if the actors were Swedish (the true language of the books), you still have to be more than true. This was my problem with book-to-movie adaptations. As well as everyone else’s problem.

The truth of the matter is, is that it’s one thing to rewrite scenes to make it work on screen and to take out not important plots, which let’s be honest sometimes there are many of those in the books we read, but to actually redo a vital role in what moves the plot forward is insulting. I have no problem with scenes or characters that contribute nothing to the plot, it is when someone chooses to do something completely different for the sake of not hiring another actor to play a small but large role in the film doesn’t make sense to me. That is when I guarantee to having a problem with that adaptation. Other than this type of dilemma I’m more understanding because the bulk of the novel isn’t just the character interactions but the details of what the character is doing or where the novel takes place in.

Remember, we will never be 100% satisfied with a book-to-movie adaptation. It’s apparent that I’m not  ever happy either, but I accept it because I am more understanding with what it means when the film says “based on the novel.” Unless it says “Entirely from the novel,” then that’s another story. We’re the audience and we like to complain. It’s in our nature. Once we get over ourselves we’ll probably be able to appreciate the movie. Although I’ve spent some time explaining the book-writing-to-screen process we’ll always leave the theater whining.

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