Last night, a few friends and I went to see the new Macbeth movie with Michael Fassbender. It was pretty good, beautiful if nothing else, but it definitely took its artistic liberties when it came to staying true to Shakespeare. For example, more than a few of my favorite lines and passages were cut. Sure, this is to make due for timing, but they could have cut out about ten seconds of Macbeth’s eight-hour-long death scene to make room for the line, “Here it not Duncan, for it is a knell that summons thee to Heaven or to hell…”
That’s one of my favorite lines in all of Shakespeare! Didn’t happen. Oh well.
After the movie, we went and discussed a few of the choices that the screenwriters and the director made in regards to staying true to the original source material and their interpretations. Throughout the conversation, I found myself thinking back to something that I learned in a poetry class in college.
When you write a book, you’re not just writing one book. You’re actually writing three: the book itself, the book that you, as the author, knows it, and the book that the reader interprets.
I found that fascinating, and all too true. No reader interprets the same book the same way. No one sees a story exactly the same way. The world of Harry Potter, for example. Although millions of people have read the same book, we all experienced it in a different way. We all visualized it a different way. Harry Potter is actually millions and millions of different books and stories and experiences, and none are more or less real or true than another.
Then I started thinking about fan fiction, and how fans will take characters from author’s stories and make them their own, and tell different stories. For example, one of my good friends asked me when Luke Rainer was going to come out of the closet. Now, I’ve never really imagined Luke as gay, but I’ve never specified that he’s straight either. And even if I did, it is fully within my readers’ rights to imagine my characters in any way that they want.
What’s true for one reader might not be true for another. To me, Fred Weasley will never be dead. I remain CONVINCED that George figured out a way to go back and save him. Since neither were mentioned in the epilogue and no burial took place, I believe than anything is possible. I’m also pretty convinced that the true villains of Frozen were the trolls. I’m inclined to think they MADE Hans evil so that Kristoff could have Anna. But that’s a whole other conspiracy theory.