Starting today, I will be posting about book to movie adaptations every Monday!
Today’s book to screen adaptation is one of my personal favorites: The Fault In Our Stars by John Green, adapted into the hugely successful movie of the same name. The screen play was adapted by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Webber, who in my opinion, did an amazing job capturing what made the book so special. Most of the dialogue in the film is plucked right from the pages of the novel.
The movie stars Shailene Woodley as the cancer-stricken teen Hazel Grace Lancaster, and Ansel Elgort as the charming, hopeless romantic Augustus Waters. The role of Isaac, the best friend to Gus who ends up completely blind by the end of the story, is played by Nat Wolff. The roles of Hazel’s staunchly protective and fiercely loving mom and dad are played by Laura Dern and Sam Trammell. Willem Dafoe plays Peter van Houten, the alcoholic, often cruel and deeply cynical author of Hazel’s favorite book “An Imperial Affliction.”
What made this adaptation so good was first and foremost the excellent casting. Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort were the perfect Hazel and Gus, and despite there having been hundreds of actors to audition for the roles, I don’t think anyone else could have played the characters as well as they did.
For those who haven’t read the book or seen the movie, here’s a quick synopsis, but be warned: there will be many spoilers!
Hazel Lancaster is a witty, sarcastic, and terminally-ill teenager who spends most of her time at home or at one of her never ending doctor’s appointments. After being diagnosed with thyroid cancer at the age of 13, she went through every treatment imaginable to combat the disease but nothing seemed to work and she began to worsen. The cancer had spread to her lungs and they had begun to fill with fluid and she came dangerously close to dying before she was saved by what her doctors and parents deemed “the miracle,” a drug that saved her lungs from any further damage and despite the fact that she’s constantly attached to an oxygen tank through a cannula, let her regain some degree of normalcy in her life. Hazel’s parents and her doctor think that Hazel is depressed and encourage her to attend a teen cancer support group, which she reluctantly agrees to. While attending the support she meets fellow cancer survivor Augustus Waters, who lost a leg to bone cancer, begins to pursue to Hazel romantically. While she enjoys hanging out with Gus, she is adamant that the two remain friends because she knows she is terminal and she thinks it would be unfair to him if they were to fall in love and he would be left heartbroken when she dies. Although he agrees to just be friends, the two begin to spend time together and inevitably fall in love. While they get to know each other, Hazel shares with Gus her love of the book “An Imperial Affliction.” After reading the book, Gus e-mails the author Peter van Houten, and receives a response from the author who invites the two to visit him in Amsterdam. Hazel is thrilled but her health makes a trip to a different country nearly impossible. Gus is determined to make the trip a reality, and enlists the help of “The Genies” (a charity that fulfills wishes of terminally ill children much like the “Make a Wish” foundation) and Hazel’s parents who set up the trip and make it possible for Hazel to travel despite the hurdles her health presents. Hazel and Gus, along with Hazel’s mother, travel to Amsterdam and Hazel and Gus go to Peter van Houten’s home to meet the author and get the answers to the questions left unanswered by the book’s ending. The meeting is a disaster, with van Houten lashing out at them and behaving cruelly, and Hazel and Gus storm out after a nasty confrontation. Even though their meeting with van Houten went so badly, Hazel and Gus make the best of their trip and enjoy their time together. As they prepare to head back home, Gus finally tells Hazel that his cancer has returned and is worse than ever. When they return home, Gus begins treatment but his health starts to rapidly decline. Hazel remains steadfast by his side as it becomes clear that their time together is limited. Gus eventually succumbs to the cancer, leaving Hazel bereaved and utterly heartbroken, but ultimately thankful that she was able to have the short time she did have with Gus.
Ok, back to the book to movie adaptation. The film was directed by Josh Boone, who did a great job bringing the book to life, and John Green’s (the author) involvement in the movie ensured that the magic that made the book a best-seller came alive on the screen. So often when books are adapted into movies, the elements of the book that made it special are lost, but “The Fault In Our Stars” maintained the quirky and lovable qualities it was known for. Thanks to a wonderful cast, a flawless adaptation by the screenwriters, and the director’s keen eye along with the author’s input made it one of the best adaptations I’ve seen in my humble opinion. I give it an A+.(I’m trying to come up with a different grading scale for the books I review and the movie adaptations I post about, so bear with me while I figure that one out)
For those of you who read the book and saw the movie: what are your thoughts? Do you agree with my opinion or do you think it didn’t do the book justice?
I’d also love to hear your recommendations on which adaptation I should talk about next Monday!
Happy reading and viewing!