Directors vs Authors

This week, I received a copy of ‘Cloud Atlas’ written by David Mitchell and I am very excited to start reading the book. I know that Cloud Atlas was adapted into a movie last year by the Wachowski’s (The Matrix) and Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run), featuring Tom Hanks (Cast Away) and Halle Berry (X-Men). I have not watched the film, but I intend to ,once I have read the book. So it prompted a question; When it comes to movies that are based on novels, is it right that the Director should have the final say on what is and isn’t included in the film?

Often when novels are made into movies, the Director decides to leave out or include certain parts of the book and not include them in the movie. As well as this, they may decide to include scenes that were not in the book. Sometimes a Director may decide not to cut any scenes from the book, nor add any that were not in the book, but may instead mold certain scenes, so in a way, the Director is giving his own take on a scene. He/She may do this by changing lines to make them more understandable and they may also alter some of the actions and emotions of the scene.

I have made this sound like a terrible thing, but the Director may have good reasons for doing so, as they are the ones who are delivering the movie and they know how to present something to the audience. The Director has to collaborate with the editors, scorer’s (soundtrack) cinematographers, etc and needs to have faith in their judgement. So if the scorer said that this action from the book is going to change the way the viewers feel about the scene and the character that they are feeling for, then they may have to listen to them because the scene may be emotional and the soundtrack is matching that with an emotional score, but there is a certain action that changes the mood of the viewer and it has to be cut out. This is because, reading a book (depending on which narrative the novel is being spoken in First, Third) gives you an insight into the thoughts and feelings of the lead character in the novel, but a film cannot provide that as one page of a book may only be several seconds in a film. So the Director has to make the calls.

In my opinion, the Director should not be able to include or take away any scenes from the novel, when making the choice on what and what doesn’t get included in the final movie. But should be granted the ability to alter scenes in a minor way, to match the audience and the other departments of the film.

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