He’d stopped in on occasion, to satisfy his curiosity. He wanted to see which actor had been cast for each character. He was intensely interested in the set and props. He wanted everything to be just right. His presence wasn’t really welcome, though. The director scowled every time he showed up. The performers never asked any questions- they all seemed to believe they already knew their roles perfectly well. The only person who ever seemed to give him any attention was a gaffer who didn’t seem to like working on the set.
Because the man was never really welcomed when he visited the studio, his visits became increasingly rare. He started work on his next book, but felt distracted. He kept wondering about the film that was birthed from his first and so far, only best-seller. The novel had been well received, but would the movie? In his mind, they were certainly connected. His name would appear on posters and in the credits, so clearly, he desired that the production would go well.
After a long wait and little communication, opening night was scheduled. Before that, he was invited to see the completed film with the producer, director and several of the actors. The viewing was unceremonious- they sat in a conference room with steno notebooks. They didn’t even pop any popcorn.
The writer was overwhelmed by the title sequence- something he’d written- and sold millions of copies of- was turned into a feature film that took nearly two years to get to this point and required a budget of 75 million dollars. Those first few moments of video seemed to him, the greatest assurance to his success thus far.
His pleasure was short-lived, however. The actors performed well, the special effects were great and everything else looked good, but the story that unfolded in front of him told a tale that only vaguely related to what he’d written. The philosophies he’d communicated in the nearly four hundred pages weren’t coming through- at all. It felt as though this film was mocking what he stood for.
He remained quiet to the end, waiting for something to redeem what truly amounted to a caricature of what he’d written. It never came. When the credits started rolling, everyone in the room turned to him and immediately were shocked by the look on his face. Clearly, he was immensely upset at what he’d just seen. He gazed at each of them, trying to figure out how to respond. Should he yell? Walk out? Hit somebody? He had the body of a writer and therefore decided against violence. Instead, he asked, “What were you thinking when you created this nonsense? Why wasn’t I consulted? Why was I basically ignored through this entire process?”
His face contorted as he asked these questions. His anger subsided into disappointment. The film was complete, and would be viewed by his readers. He was most concerned about them. Others would see the movie, too. They’d make wrong assumptions about him because of this 75 million dollar misrepresentation.
★ ★ ★
When we read, we bring our own world into play with the words on each page. Our experiences will lead us in various ways, toward whatever conclusions. The way we interpret a work is important, but do we place our own analysis over the author’s intention? If so, is this appropriate across the board, or only for particular types of literature?