The Rhetoric of Images

Like many people, I am always inclined to argue that the book version of a story is better than the blockbuster film made of it. The imagination of characters is not necessarily what bothers me. Typically I don’t start reading the book until I’ve heard the movie version is about to come out (ex. Twilight, The Hunger Games, Sarah’s Key, etc.), so most of the time my idea of what a character looks like is defined by which actor is chosen to portray that particular role in the film. I like being able to put a face to a name. I also like the idea of imagining what the world would be like if the mythical creatures of Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter actually existed (even though the thoughts brought to my mind are a little frightening). What frustrates me about the movie version of a beloved book is how much detail is discarded by the filmmakers. It upsets me to see scenes I believed to be essential to the storyline tossed away or completely changed. Even the loss of minute details, like the fact that Harry Potter’s eyes are supposed to be green to resemble his mother’s or how in The Hunger Games the death of Katniss’s father is barely described.

In regards to my personal response to iconic photographic images, I don’t know that I necessarily have one. If I do, it’s usually not very significant. I’ve never been particularly moved by a photograph before. I look at the composition and say “Oh that looks nice” and then move on. Sometimes I look at the lighting or how I would portray it if I were to sketch it, but I never really take the time to think about the significance of the piece. If a picture really is worth a thousand words, then I should spend more time pondering the meaning or the story behind the photograph.

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2 Responses to The Rhetoric of Images

  1. Phoebe Canagarajah says:

    It bothers me too when filmmakers exclude details from their work. This is where I will become a nerd. I am a big fan of Avatar:The Last Airbender (the cartoon series). Ok, yes, I may be little too old for cartoons, but it’s a really good series! Anyways, when I heard that M. Night. Shyamalan (the director of The Village) was working on the movie adaptation, I was super excited. And then I watched and it was horrible. He had completely excluded details, even major ones! First of all, the actors in the film never pronounced their names right. For example, the name “Aang” was pronounced with a soft ‘a’ sound rather than the hard ‘a’ sound used in the cartoon series. It doesn’t sound like a big difference but it ruined the film and undermined its credibility. Also, all the characters were supposed to be Asian, but for some reason, the Firebenders were Indians. I don’t know why and it doesn’t seem like a valid change but I guess that is the frustrating part about movies. Filmmakers have complete control on how they interpret and display a movie, and you can do nothing about it if they are wrong.

  2. Kate Kielceski says:

    I agree with your idea about putting a face to a name. I’ve done the same thing on numerous occasions by only reading a book after I’ve heard about it coming out as a movie. I like to be able to picture an actual face in my mind. But there definitely is something to be said for books over movies. In books like Harry Potter, you understand the characters so much more than in the movies. Over the course of the series, you get to know the characters in so much more depth than movies could ever hope to portray. Clearly the plot suffers too, but I think the worst part about the book-to-movie is lack of character development.

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