Movie Dreams: Will Eat, Pray, Love Be Lost In Translation?

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Eat, Pray, Love Be Lost In Translation

As a budding screenwriter with a screen writing dream I tend to take a critical view of movies. What’s your opinion of movie adaptations? Are you leery of them? A common form of film adaptation is the use of a novel as the base of a film. Have you come across one that you’ve enjoyed more than the book?

As a budding screenwriter, I’m racking my brain to remember one.

Nope. I can’t come up with one.

I see it this way –

In a book, the author paints a canvas using characters, plot, subplots, themes, conflict, etc. from their own imagination allowing the reader to interpret the story the way they envision it.

My theory is that when a book is made into a movie, it’s never the same.

How can it be?

You have the original work thrust into a differently medium by a screenwriter who doesn’t write books (there are always exceptions, of course). By reading a book, you’re told a story with flowing prose and endless description. A screenplay shows you the story on the silver screen, leaving you to “see” and experience it in your own way.

When I go to see one of these I always catch myself saying: “This wasn’t in the book” or “Why did they cut a pivotal part of the book out of the movie?”

My theory will be tested when the heavily touted movie “Eat Pray Love” opens nationwide this week. It’s the movie adaptation of the #1 New York Times Bestseller written by Elizabeth Gilbert. I’ll be seeing this movie on Sunday.

In this memoir, we follow Elizabeth on her mission to overcome her depression and divorce. She embarks on a deeply spiritual journey of self discovery to ponder three aspects of her nature:

  • Pleasure in Italy
  • Devotion in India
  • A balance between worldly enjoyment and divine transcendence in Bali

A wonderful book, brilliant and personal, rich in spiritual insight. ~Anne Lamott

Eat Pray Love” will be released in 67 countries later on this year.

There is a glimmer of hope: current Man-of-the-Hour Ryan Murphy (writer for the hit series “Glee” and “Nip/Tuck”) and Jennifer Salt (writer/producer of “Nip/Tuck” and writer of “Soap”) are at the helm adapting this book into a movie.

Ms. Salt is in her sixties and still a major force in the Hollywood community. Hallelujah, there’s hope for older women screenwriters – like me! I’m keeping my fingers crossed that their collaboration will be magic and create a movie that truly represents the essence of Elizabeth Gilbert’s tome.

When I park my butt in the seat at the theater, I will:

EAT – Buttered popcorn and a soda

PRAY – this movie adaptation actually works

LOVE – I want to LOVE this movie, I really do!

I’ll report back to you next week with my review from a screenwriters point of view.

Come on Julia Roberts, knock this one out of the park . . .

If you see Eat, Pray, Love this week, I’d love to hear your critique of the movie!

Lights, Camera, Action –


Toni left 8 Women Dream in November of 2010 to work full-time on her screenplay and Club B.

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  • Claire

    I found this site on today and like your openness and candor. I bookmarked this post of yours and I have to say that I liked the movie, but I liked the book too. Some of my friends didn’t like EPL for the reasons you suggest, but I don’t always like what movies they like either. Isn’t it great that we get to have these conversations about movies for women? Claire

  • Heather, CEO and serial entrepreneur

    Thanks for sharing and it was great to see the movie with the gang! My favorite author is Stephen King – now there’s a track record for bad book-to-screen adaptation.

  • Catherine, Site Admin

    I loved it, because it was like an encounter with a long, lost friend. I look forward to your review.

  • I can’t wait to see the movie. I’m with Toni…it’s hard not to be disappointed sometimes but can we just talk about Javier Bardim.
    Love him
    We will see on Sunday. It’ll be interesting to hear what everyone thinks.
    Later, Laurie

    • Toni Schram

      Laurie-Oh, to have a hot steamy encounter with Javier! However, we would have to deal with the wrath of Penelope!

  • Mariska S

    Eek! I’m worried you might be right. One of the Variety critics says, “Elizabeth Gilbert’s best selling tome has been dumbed down and glossed up. Fans of the introspective will be disappointed: those looking for decent, escapist entertainment will not.” Oh no! I still have to see this movie tho. I will be interested in what you say next week.

    • Toni Schram


      The reviews are mixed. Don’t know if it’s because most movie reviewers are men (they tend to be harsh when it comes to women based movies) or because of my adaptation theory.

  • Toni Schram

    The exception I was alluding to is sometimes the author of the book also writes the adapted screenplay.

    Movies are subjective and everyone has a opinion about them.

    I’m glad you’ve found some “exceptions to the rule”.

    I’m hoping one of your Birthday Wishes you will receive on Monday will be that “Eat Pray Love” kicks bootie!

  • I have to disagree, or maybe say that the exceptions prove the rule? Because there are movie adaptations that I’ve liked at least as well as if not better than the book. YaYa Sisterhood- HATED the book, loved the movie. Lord of the Rings- love the books AND the movies. Harry Potter- love the books and the movies so far. How about musical adaptations? I liked the book Wicked; they changed it for the musical and I think the changes they made were FANTASTIC. (The musical gives the story a happy ending.) I just watched The Time Traveler’s Wife; I read the book a long time ago so I don’t remember the details (as a prior comment notes about time between reading the book and seeing the movie) but the movie was good.

    I’m so hoping Eat, Pray, Love is one of the good adaptations!!! I’m waiting until Monday to see it, my birthday.

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    • Toni Schram

      Me, too, Bethany!

  • Toni Schram

    When you read a book, I think it’s natural to “picture” a certain actor to play the role on the big screen.


    How about a raincheck for getting together for a movie
    in the future?

  • Remy G

    Wish I could join you ladies cause I love popcorn and I promise, no hand holding! I too will be excited to see how they make this one. Have to admit, I didn’t think of Julia Roberts when I was reading the book…And yea, Richard from Texas….hmmmmm – Great post Toni. xo Rem

  • Catherine, Site Admin

    “When I park my butt in the seat at the theater, I will:

    EAT – Buttered popcorn and a soda
    PRAY – this movie adaptation actually works
    LOVE – I want to LOVE this movie, I really do!”

    lol clever. I’ll be drinking my water.

    But I worry the same as you about Hollywood changing key parts of the book and I am very fussy about the Richard from Texas character.

    I didn’t like the Pelican Brief adaptation and that was a Julia Roberts film – but I’d just finished the book three days before I saw the movie. I like the movie better now that the book has faded from memory.

    See you Sunday – don’t try and hold my hand in the theater – I’m fussy about that too ;-)


    • Toni Schram

      I hope the casting director comes through with casting
      “just the right” actor for Richard’s part.

      Don’t worry about the hand holding situation. My fingers
      will be a little greasy from my buttered popcorn laced with
      parmesan cheese.

      See you at the movies-


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