English 518 Course Blog

February 6, 2007

Charlotte’s Web just isn’t the same!!!

Filed under: Uncategorized — tmitchell01 @ 11:52 pm

Hayles’ article Material Metaphors raised some interesting points.  As technology expands the impression of the work by the reader is altered.  I recall reading Charlotte’s Web and thinking “this couldn’t get any better!” And I was right….it couldn’t. Watching Charlotte’s Web and reading Charlotte’s Webare two different experiences.  I find books to be more detailed and intimate, whereas; movies seem commercialized with a direct focus on entertainment. Movies don’t allow the viewer to perceive his/her own thoughts, because everything is offered to them on the screen, even their own perceptions. By no means am I anti-film, I do enjoy watching movies, however, I encourage viewers to think beyond what they see on the screen. In her article Hayles stated “to change the material artifact is to transform the context and circumstances for interacting with words.”  In some cases this is true.  It is not possible for a book to maintainits original text once it is expanded to film. It’s just not possible!!!  It is essential that producers are careful not to misuse the text. Misuse of text could cause a detachment between the book and the movie. I’ve read many books that have  film versions. In many of my experiences I’ve felt disappointed and furious with the connection between the two mediums, either they’re totally opposite, or one lacks detail. I am aware that it is difficult to transfer every word in a book to film, however; I agree with Hayles in saying that “in the tangled web of media ecology, change anywhere in the system stimulates change everywhere in the system.”



  1. This post depresses me–I loved Charlotte’s Web as a child and hoped the movie would be good. Unfortunately, it seems 90 percent of film adaptations of books are disappointing…a few exceptions are The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia, which we discussed in class. What tends to work better is when the producer/director realizes the difficulty in producing a GOOD TV/film version of a popular text, and instead spoofs it…like in many Simpson episodes. Even remediations of comic books are usually disappointments–sure, Xmen and Spiderman are hits in the theaters, but usually fans that have collected the comic books are majorly disappointed by the ridiculous errors.

    For example, in Xmen 3, a boy exists whose power is to dampen any mutant’s power within a 10 foot radius. Another character, Juggernaut, tries to capture the boy, and cannot because his powers are dampened, and he is no longer unstoppable. However, comic book followers were disgusted, because in the comic book, the source of Juggernaut’s powers isn’t a mutation, but rather a magical gem from Egypt. Mistakes like these make long-time fans ill. Remediate the text…not remake it!

    Comment by shenra — February 10, 2007 @ 4:08 pm | Reply

  2. One interesting example of comic book-to-film adaptation is Sin City, which adapted Frank Miller’s graphic novels, and for which Miller received a credit as a co-director. Many of the film’s shots take panels from Miller’s books and use them as storyboards, giving the film an incredibly visceral feel.

    But there are cases where the book should be left alone. As I mentioned in class, I’m pretty bummed about the adaptation of A Bridge to Terabithia (even though it’s likely that I’ll never see it).

    Comment by chutry — February 10, 2007 @ 10:49 pm | Reply

  3. There are also cases where reading the work and actually seeing it performed are exceptions. I have read many plays as i enjoy the theater. One play I had never read but that we had the chance to view as a film in one of my undergraduate classes, was His Girl Friday. There is no way that I could imagine that much humor in a book. The personal interaction between the characters and the chemistry was Superb! I have since gone back and read the play that this movie was adapted from “The Front Page” and while it was entertaining it paled in comparison to the screen play by Howard Hawks with Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell.

    I do agree that there are many book adapations that are recklessly produced into films. Some things are better left alone and other are better when tinkered with. i suppose it is all a matter of personal opinion.

    Comment by missmoose — February 13, 2007 @ 5:53 pm | Reply

  4. Tmitchell01,

    I have kept a copy of this novel for years in which the pages have turned brown and the copyright date is 1952. The price of this book at the time of purchase was $1.95. Just recently,I purchased the new version of the movie, Charlotte’s Web, for $19.95 and I have mixed opinions about the new movie taken from this classic’s text. Although, the text left me with my own depiction of images and left me with a sense of satisfaction after finishing the book, I did not experiences these feelings with this new version of the movie. I didn’t mind the first cartoon version of this text, in which to me Charlotte’s character was wonderful. The voice, relationships with the other characters such as Fern, Templeton, and ofcourse Wilber were seamless. Now the new version which begins in cartoon form in the introduction, but is featured in real life, has some good points but not overall to me. Templeton, and Wilbur were quite believable as characters, but my disappointment was in the character Charlotte. She seemed stiff, fake, and just incomplete. This film won the Best Family Film of the Year, but I was disappointed in the overall film especially in regards to Charlotte. The cartoon verson had more of a sensitive appeal to me in regards to Charlotte’s demise; her children were born and while some ventured off into exploring their new environments, some stayed with Wilbur and continued their mother’s writing and befriending Wilbur. The new movie feature causes you to actually miss Charlotte, and the children in the egg sack are mentioned, but not seen. In sum, as I think about the landscape, the care for animals, family, and relationships of animals and insects, I can also as a novice give this film “Two Thums Up” like Richart Roeper abd Aisha Tyler. However to me, the character Charlotte was very disappointing except for her voice in E.B. White’s beloved children’s book which was adapted to film.

    Comment by Spiders8 — April 15, 2007 @ 7:56 pm | Reply

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