Now that we’re constantly hearing some news or the other about a potential The Infernal Devices adaptation, Cassandra Clare took to her Tumblr to address the questions.
Here’s what the author has to say about the movie, the screenplay for which is being penned by Stephanie Sanditz:
One thing to keep in mind is that no movie is being made until they are rolling cameras so it’s early to freak out. Wait till someone actually gets cast at least. 🙂
What made me accept a potential movie? I guess: I like movies. I don’t think film is a lesser art than books. Just a different art. I don’t think book adaptations to film are doomed to be bad. I think a lot of them are good. I think Lord of the Rings was good. I think Psycho and Jaws and The Shining and Apocalypse Now and Atonement and A Clockwork Orange and LA Confidential and a million more I could name are good movies.
I think people say movies ruin books a lot for two reasons: Lots of adaptations of books are bad. It’s not easy to adapt a book. It’s not easy to translate what happens on a page to a visual medium. And things that are hard to do are often done badly. And secondly, a lot of times people simply rate a film by how much it diverges from the book. But all movies are going to diverge from the books they’re based on. They have to. The question is whether they diverge in intelligent ways (As, I think, Lord of the Rings did in casting Elijah Wood as Frodo. Frodo is supposed to be fifty. Elijah Wood was nineteen. But as a visual symbol of corrupted innocence, a 19-year-old worked much better. In the books, the hobbits have a youthful spirit. On screen you have to cast people who actually look youthful or what you will end up with is what looks like a bunch of middle aged people cavorting disturbingly) or in ways that worsened the story. And the only way to know that is to watch the whole film.
Look, I also fervently hope that if they make an ID movie, they don’t mess up the cast, and that they get the precision of the character dynamics right, and that the characters’ love of reading is preserved, and that Tessa is portrayed as the strong, intelligent, courageous girl that she is. I’d love to see the automatons on a screen. If the right actors were picked, I’d love to see Tessa, Jem and Will. I think the right director could make amazing scenes out of things like Will’s graveyard visit, and the vampire party, and the fight on Blackfriars Bridge. One of the joys of film is being transported to places you can never go, like Victorian London.
The alchemy of right director, right actors, right screenplay, is a hard one to get right. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth trying for. And there is no way to try for a good movie without risking a bad one. There simply isn’t. There are too many factors at work.
And in the end, a bad movie is just a bad movie. A bad movie does not change what is inside a book. It does not make the book worse. It does not hurt one’s writing career. (Perhaps the one plus of the fact that writers don’t really have much say over how adaptations of their films go, by and large, is that correspondingly, even a huge bomb of a movie is irrelevant to your career. It just is. It’s not you you’re risking when they make a film of your books —not your money, not your reputation, not your sales. It’s a bummer if it doesn’t go well, but that’s about it.) But a good movie — a good movie is a wonderful thing. It means your characters come alive on the screen for you, for everyone. It brings thousands, millions even, of readers to your books who otherwise wouldn’t have known about them. And writers do want to be read.
And indeed, while TiD is more about character drama than overarching “Will the world blow up?” drama it 1) has plenty of action and 2) is not exactly a better book than Great Expectations, Jane Eyre, Sense and Sensibility, or any of another dozens of books that have been adapted into extremely good films. I think if I took the tack that my books were too good to be movies I would come off as kind of a dillweed. Though I think if there is “Don’t make a movie!” drama it stems from a protective fan love of the books, which I respect. Not wanting to see them adapted badly is understandable. I don’t want to see them adapted badly either. 🙂 But I do want to see them adapted well, and you can’t get the one without risking the other.
Hope that makes sense!