Peter Jackson's latest movie, The Lovely Bones, is based on a novel by Alice Sebold, which Jackson condensed to fit a roughly two-our running time, and Jackson acknowledges that fans of the book may be upset by his changes.
Counting himself as a fan of the book, the Oscar-winning director admitted that even he prefers Sebold's version to his own.
"The masterwork is the book," Jackson said in a press conference over the weekend in Beverly Hills, Calif. "Alice Sebold's novel is The Lovely Bones. That is the work that has got everything in it, every character, every subplot, and that's the way that you should experience the story in its most pure form."
So if you've already read The Lovely Bones, is there really no need to see Jackson's movie? "You don't make a movie for the fans of the book," he continued. "You just can't do that. In my mind, there's no such thing as a perfect adaptation of a book. It's impossible." (Spoilers ahead!)
The film and the novel are about the Salmon family dealing with the murder of 14-year-old Susie Salmon. Susie watches over her family from the afterlife.
One big change from the book is that the movie removes a subplot in which Susie's mother has an affair with the detective investigating the murder.
"A film adaptation of any book, especially The Lovely Bones in this example, it's only ever going to be a souvenir," Jackson said. "It's going to be an impression of aspects of the book. To me, to adapt a book is not a question of producing a carbon copy of the book. It's impossible. To include everything, the film would be five or six hours long. It's a personal impression that basically Philippa Boyens, Fran Walsh and myself [had]; the three of us wrote the screenplay, and we read the book."
That trio is the same writing team behind the successful Lord of the Rings adaptations. With Bones, they chose to focus their film on the story's spiritual themes, not the plot twists of adulterous affairs.
"We responded to aspects of the book, especially emotional themes, the comforting value of the book and things it had to say about the afterlife and that aspect of it, which is very personal to anybody," Jackson said. "That's what we responded to, and our adaptation is very much just elements of the book restructured following our interests and our takes."
The Lovely Bones opens Friday.