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Books and TV series: a winning combination

Books and TV series: a winning combination

In recent months, various production companies have announced the future release of TV series based on literary works: Amazon Studios has in …

In recent months, various production companies have announced the future release of TV series based on literary works: Amazon Studios has in the works The Wheel of Timetaken from the novels of Robert JordanAnd The Lord of the Ringsfrom the famous work of Tolkienwhich will see the light in 2021 (and will not be a remake of the film saga); Netflix instead he is trying his hand at reworking the novels of Andrzej Sapkowskigiving birth to the world of The Witcher, already brilliantly transposed as a videogame. These are certainly not isolated cases. Just think of the success of Game of Thrones – Game of Thronesa series that needs no introduction based on the novels of George RR Martin, A Song of Ice and Fire. Still, you’ve probably heard of Thirteenproduced by Netflix and adaptation of the novel by Jay Asher.

This is not new

These are just a few recent examples, but the combination of books and TV series has existed for a long time (Dexter, *** and the City, House of Cards, Gossip Girl to name a few). It is also true that, until recently, film adaptation was the preferred way for the reinterpretation of literary best sellers, the reinterpretation considered most important by the public, the most awaited (even here, think of The Hobbit, The Da Vinci Code, Harry Potter…); the show, due to its intrinsic characteristics, but also to the minor importance attributed to television entertainment, was instead destined for perhaps more niche novels, although famous. Yet the recently announced and aforementioned series are eagerly awaited by the public and are based on (undisputed) editorial successes: among these is The Lord of the Rings, from the literary work pillar of fantasy from which a cinematographic saga of undoubted success has already been made. Why a TV series then? Is anything changing?

Cinema and TV series: two parallel worlds

Cinema and TV series have always been two different and parallel worlds: in both cases it is a question of staging an audiovisual work, but with substantial differences (at least at the origins) in the purposes, forms, contents and, of course, in the means of distribution. The qualitative differences, also for budgetary reasons, seemed insurmountable. Yet since the 90s we have seen a relaunch of the series, which from a medium – low level product have become something more (David Lynch docet). Award-winning actors and directors for their work on the big screen are also dedicated to TV series; the budget dedicated to the realization of the latter is always greater (think of the 130 million dollars spent for the last season of The Crown, about 10 million per episode). It can be said that series often equal cinema (try to see Maniacwith Emma Stone And Jonah Hillor also The Handmaid’s Tale, just to name a few recent ones). Controversial as that claim may be, the success of Netflix, Amazon Video and in general the growing following obtained by television series speak for themselves.

The TV series as a transposition of literary works

Perhaps the increase in quality and the increasing public interest in TV series have contributed to increasing the choice of the television medium also as a transposition of literary works; but not only. The TV series have some advantages over the cinema in this specific case, among all, the duration: the film condenses the story in a couple of hours, while a TV series is composed of several episodes that overall reach a longer duration. This allows you to have more space for characterization of the characters and in general allows you to make fewer cuts to the story (to the delight of readers – myself included). If we think of series like Game of thrones, it is difficult to imagine it in a cinematic version, given its length; even trying to imagine a transposition of The Wheel of Time And The Witcher, the TV series seems to be spot on, precisely in consideration of the amount of details that would be lost if they were reworked as a film. To date, seeing your heroes move from paper to the small screen is as exciting as admiring them on the big screen, perhaps even more so.

In short, if we put cinema and TV series on the same qualitative level, the choice of the latter as a transposition of literary works does not disappoint; the importance of some cinematographic masterpieces taken from well-known books is certainly not denied (Shining, Fight Club, The Lord of the Rings…) but we just want to highlight how the small screen is not an option of lesser appeal and intended for a small audience.

The “telefilms” are no longer a series B product but a form of entertainment that has gained its own artistic value, a large audience, and can, on closer inspection, also tell the story of books.