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Relationship Compression

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This trope happens when an adaptation (usually a film or musical based on a book), due to medium constraints, has to compress the time a romance has to develop. This can lead to accusations of Fourth-Date Marriage, Love at First Sight, or even Strangled by the Red String that are not an issue in the original. Adaptation Displacement will exacerbate such complaints, even extending to Die for Our Ship.

Not to be confused with Promoted to Love Interest, as the romance was present in the original, but its speed is just altered.


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  • The 1980 film version of Flash Gordon has Dale and Flash falling for each other at an alarming rate.
  • Harry Potter (book to film):
    • In the book, Lupin and Tonks's relationship is a (mostly off-screen) subplot, involving much angst about the possibility of Lupin passing on his lycantropy. In the films, they're already together by Christmas in the sixth film (not hooking up until the end of the book) and only implied to be married with a son by the seventh.
    • Ginny and Dean's relationship starts at the end of the fifth book and continues for most of the sixth. They start off strong and grow steadily rocky until they split up. In the film their relationship is mentioned at the start but most of the angst is downplayed, with one scene where Hermione tells Harry that they've been fighting. It quietly disappears much earlier in the film.
    • Harry and Ginny hook up in the sixth book and are able to have a relationship for about a month until he breaks it off for her safety. In the film, while their attraction is as developed as in the book, they only share one kiss and don't become a couple - due to the climax of the book being moved to the same day as the kiss.
  • Éowyn and Faramir in The Lord of the Rings (book to film): In the book, they get more page time than even Aragorn and Arwen, but in the movie, they're a one-scene Hooked Up Afterwards (which most people won't even notice unless they've read the books already). The extended version improves things a bit, but not much.
  • Inverted in the film adaptation of the Ramona Quimby series, Ramona and Beezus. The relationship between Ramona's Aunt Bea and Howie's Uncle Hobart is never mentioned in Ramona Forever until they come over to the Quimbys' household to announce their engagement; there are very subtle hints in the narrative that they're dating, but it's completely plausible that a kid like Ramona, wrapped up in the details of her own life, could easily miss them until the romance is blatantly stated. The two have a lot more screen time together in the movie, which even includes a proposal scene.
  • This happens in Scott Pilgrim (comic book to film) with Scott and Ramona's relationship. Originally, their relationship built up over a year or so before the comic ended. In the movie, the same development had to be cut down to a few weeks.
  • Sweeney Todd (play to film). In the stage version, it's compressed enough, since they go from strangers to planning to elope in two songs together, but this is justified as it's in keeping with both Anthony and Johanna's characters; she is looking for a way out of a bad situation and he's her best option, while Anthony is naive and idealistic enough about love to think that Rescue Romances work in the real world. However, even this is significantly trimmed down in the Tim Burton film, thanks to the fact that several of their songs together are cut. The result is that Anthony catches a glimpse of Johanna through a window once and then instantly devotes himself to her, pushing his relationship with her into Stalker with a Crush territory.

  • Marius and Cosette in Les Misérables (book to musical): Both versions of their romance have a Love at First Sight vibe, with Marius convinced that life isn't worth living without Cosette even before he knows her name. But at least in the book, they know each other longer.
    • Book version: Marius and Cosette meet each other's eye a few times, but don't say a word to each other. Then Valjean moves to another part of town and stops frequenting the park where Cosette and Marius would catch sight of each other, Marius and Cosette both fall into a long depression, and Marius resorts to stalking and hiring people who knew the area to catch glimpses of Cosette again. Eventually, months after their last meeting, he learns Cosette's address and leaves a notebook filled with his musings on love for Cosette to read, which are clearly talking about her, and soon after this he starts visiting her regularly in her garden Not long after their first conversation together (perhaps days), the two are saying they'll die if they don't get to see each other again... but at least they've been aware of each other for months at that point and go on to have several more months of romance before Marius nearly dies at the barricades.
    • Musical version: They meet each other's eyes just once in the street, then have just one romantic interlude in Cosette's garden before the barricades. After just those two interactions within one day, the two are saying they'll die if they don't get to see each other again. This has strongly contributed to making Marius/Eponine the Fan-Preferred Couple in the musical, especially because Eponine is portrayed as Marius's longtime friend before he even meets Cosette, whereas in the book he meets Cosette first and is much less fond of Eponine than the musical makes him.
  • In the musical of The Lightning Thief, Silena and Beckendorf are already together by "Another Terrible Day", but in the books they only got together during The Battle of the Labyrinth.
  • Raoul and Christine in The Phantom of the Opera (book to musical): The two may be Victorious Childhood Friends in both versions, but the two spend hardly any time together on-stage as adults, compared to the longer, more complex (read: painful) progress of their relationship in the novel.
  • One of the most famous examples is Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet (book to play), where the romance between the titular couple was compressed from happening over several months (the time given in earlier versions of the story, like Luigi Da Porto and Matteo Bandello's novellas, and Arthur Brooke's poem that directly inspired Shakespeare) to a few days.