By Emily Pooley
Have you ever seen a trailer for one of your favorite books, and gotten really excited, but weren’t sure if the movie could live up
to the incredible story laid out in writing? Recently I saw Tim Burton’s adaptation of Ransom Riggs’ novel Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and that was a concern I definitely had. This book was recommended to me over a year ago by a friend, and I love the story that Riggs created with the pictures that he found, deciding to create a sort of picture book for adults. His book took the classic story of a young boy growing up discovering love and death, and put an interesting twist on it. Jacob has grown up hearing stories of peculiars—who can fly, house bees within their body, reanimate the dead, and are invisible—from his grandpa. However, as he gets older Jacob writes off the stories as just made up fairy tales. When Jacob’s grandpa dies, he begins to realize that maybe the stories are true and after seeing a psychologist, decides to visit the island his grandpa talked about and to try to find Miss Peregrine. When he arrives on the island his life becomes one giant adventure: entering time loops, meeting a girl, and saving the peculiars from hollowgasts and wights.
When I first saw the trailer for the Tim Burton adaptation, I immediately marked my calendar and made my best friend go see it with me. The movie itself was great, but in my opinion the book was better. But let’s face it, most people would argue that in any case. Books have another level of description needed to make them enjoyable and the information that you read isn’t always translated into the film. One of the reasons being they don’t have enough time to include it in the film. Another is that they need to make it more marketable to a set audience and create a profit.
Burton definitely made changes to the plot to make it more marketable as a movie. The one that I had the biggest problem with was Emma’s character. Emma’s peculiarity is switched with Olive’s in the film, so she has an air affinity instead of fire. However, nothing about each character drastically changes as a result of the switch. I am not sure exactly why they needed to change Emma’s peculiarity except maybe to make the movie poster more interesting. They also changed the ending of the movie from the book, the whole end fight scene takes place in the present instead of the past, drastically changing the story. Although it looked really cool and had some fun music in the background to make it more visually stimulating, I personally was disappointed with the changes.
This is not to say that I didn’t enjoy myself, but when I go to see the film adaptation, I want to see the book literally come to life and played out exactly as it was written. I really enjoyed the conversation between Jacob and his grandpa in the 1940’s that was added to the film, it helped to bring closure for the death of Jacob’s grandpa, and was a very interesting element to add. The best friend I took with me had not read the book though, and she really enjoyed the movie. The problems that I saw with it, she thought were interesting and really liked, which shows that the changes are there for a reason if you are simply looking at the film and not the book. Regardless of the differences between the book and the movie, they are both great in their own rights. I recommend that you go see Tim Burton’s movie and also buy and read Ransom Riggs’ book, and its sequels, and make your own judgement of which one was better. Let us know what your biggest problems or enjoyments have been with movie adaptations in the comments below, or email us.