Hello, and welcome to this week’s edition of Books v. Movies! This week, I will be going over “Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events.“ I read the series way back in the fifth grade, and remember being really excited when the movie came out. I don’t remember being particularly annoyed with any parts of it. Even watching it again, I must say that I quite enjoy the movie. Though, the books and the movie are completely different experiences, they do have their similarities.
I picked the books back up after a long time, and I realized how simple they actually were to read. This being a series for children, there were not too many things to analyze closely and look into as far as the text was concerned. Lemony Snicket also tended to put all of his intentions out there; blatantly stating them for anyone who would not quite understand right away. The voice he added to the books made for an amusing- or annoying depending on your preferences- read for anyone who picked it up. The characters were wacky and completely unrealistic, which made the book all the more interesting. There was a big emphasis on the fact that this wasn’t a true story, but the author stated that it was in order to show that something like it could happen. I want to believe that the author was gearing this story towards those who were possibly abused or in a bad place at home, showing them that they could overcome it. Even if they felt that adults and authorities could not come to their rescue, they could work past all of the hardships and make it out of the situation.
The movie was just as silly with almost all of the dark bits thrown in. Jim Carrey did an absolutely stellar job at playing Count Olaf. I honestly can’t imagine anyone else doing it. He captured the evil cunning, yet the simple stupidity of the Count. His act was amusing and yet had the underlying terrifying bit to it. The other actors and actresses paled in his shadow. The children did a decent job of acting, though. However, Sunny was supposed to be a bit younger, and that is a point that stuck out.
Warning, Spoilers ahead!
Now for my comparison notes. I did find a few differences between the books and the movies, of course. Take the scene in which Count Olaf is first introduced. He lets his words slip, saying that he is after the fortune right off the bat in the movie; while in the books, he is a bit better at hiding that fact. It actually takes a bit more time to discover that he wants their money. Granted, it is not much time, but it does happen later on.
The other scene that is different is the scene where they prepared dinner for the theater troupe. In the book, Count Olaf had written a note for the children saying that he wanted them to prepare a dinner for the troupe. The children had gone to Justice Strauss’ house and looked at cook books. It was an important bonding moment between the children and Justice Strauss, and the children had found a ray of hope. It was there that they found the recipe for puttanesca sauce, and they went home to make it. Count Olaf then ranted about the fact that he wanted roast beef despite the fact that there was no indication that he wanted such in the note. In the movie, this happened very differently, though it was similar. The only scene that was really cut out was the trip to Justice Strauss’ house, but as I said, that is a very important part of the entire scene.
The sets and costumes in the movie were very eclectic, and they captured the feeling of oddity in the series. I felt all of that was done very well, and it helped to capture the feeling of the atmosphere around the characters.
When a series is compressed into one single movie, it is not done well at all. At least, that is the trend I have noticed. The transition from Count Olaf’s home to the home of Dr. Montgomery Montgomery is very different. In the movie, Count Olaf had put the car with the children on a railroad track and locked the doors, leaving them to be run over. Luckily, the children escaped in time. Mr. Poe had driven up afterwards and thinking he saw Sunny behind the wheel, he took the children away from Count Olaf.
However, in the book, they were taken away because Count Olaf had arranged a fake play in order to marry Violet- all apart of his plan to take their money. In the end, the children trumped his plan and were taken to Dr. Montgomery Montgomery.
There are some glaring differences such as those- though in my opinion- it doesn’t take away from the quality of the movie at all. How else could they adapt the series into a single movie?
I also enjoyed the fact that the movie adaptation kept the dialogue of Lemony Snicket as was in the book. It added to the story line and brought the feel of the books to the big screen.
There we have it, that is my observation on the film adaptation of the series, and the series itself. I have thoroughly enjoyed both of them, both in the past and now. I feel that movie and books are things that can be enjoyed throughout your life with the entire family. So, tune in next week for the next installment!