Book to Movie Adaptations
Everyone who's ever watched/talked about a book-to-movie adaptation knows this debate: How can a movie keep up with a book? A book has to be better because one can fit so much more story and narration and perspective into it.
I don't think so. Frankly, it annoys me when people blatantly proclaim that books are always better than movies because that's just not true. Books and movies are two different mediums with very different potentials, means, and methods. For example: yes, it is true that movies usually have to omit some plot points but, conversely, it's easier for a movie to evoke emotions mostly because it has music and you can "see the characters feel".
Obviously, what I want to talk about today are some book to movie adaptations. Particularly, 10 book to movie adaptations with as great a discrepancy-variety as I can think of between book and movie. I'll start by looking at 5 movies I didn't like and then I'll conclude with 5 movies I enjoy/love.
I've probably made clear by now that I absolutely love Inkheart by Cornelia Funke. The book, that is. Because the movie is a different story altogether. The only good thing about the movie was Andy Serkis (I loved him because he played Gollum), even though they portrayed Capricorn so differently (and worse) than in the books – basically Andy Serkis was just a "wow, he's the actor who played Gollum! That's so cool!"-factor and it isn't a good sign for a movie if that's the only positive I can think of.
I remember a friend of mine warning me about the movie. In retrospect, I really should have listened to her.
I actually watched the movie before I started reading Eragon by Christopher Paolini meaning that the awesomeness of the movie made me want to read the books. Yes, you read that right. I loved the movie. I even did after I read the books – a lot of things were different but, as a kid, I still thought the movie was great.
As a kid. Flash forward a couple of years, I've seen more movies and generally know more about movies and I can't stand Eragon anymore. It's so bad I've since tried to forget everything about it. (I still remember the awkward "performance" of Galbatorix, though, and that's enough.) (Maybe sadly) I just can't bee fooled into thinking a movie is great by bad CGI and explosions anymore.
(Just for the record: I've since also developed a very strong dislike for the Inheritance Cycle series so I don't even enjoy the books anymore.)
You can have issues with Twilight all you want, that's not what this is about. As a young teenager I loved the books and read them about 3-4 times (the first two at least 4 times because I took them on a holiday trip with me and had to read them over and over again for two weeks) but as I grew up and my friends started getting into the movies I started developing a dislike for the story as a whole. I do think the movies did the books justice and were very faithful (I even think the music and cinematography of the first movie is pretty decent) but I do dislike both pretty much equally.
- Percy Jackson
My sister and I used to have movie nights exclusively dedicated to Logan Lerman (I know that's like super creepy and stupid but we were young and we actually liked those movies and well he's... just look at his face.) meaning that I've repeatedly watched the first Percy Jackson movie and have learned to like it's awkward weirdness. But, seeing as I've just recently read The Lightning Thief and have developed an absolutely love for the book series, I have to face how much this adaptation really sucks. I am all for change when it benefits the movie but stripping Percy of his sarcasm takes away waaay too much from the story. I'll probably never be able to watch this movie ever again without getting angry at its sheer incompetence.
- Romeo and Juliet
No, it doesn't matter which adaptation we're talking about, I hate them all. I don't even really like Romeo and Juliet as a book but it's at least written beautifully. The adaptations on the other hand? Urgh. It's especially bad when they start cutting away Juliet's monologues and start focusing on Romeo (I hate Romeo and kinda like Juliet).
And, yes, that includes retellings – I'm looking at you, West Side Story. To be fair, I like West Side Story the best out of these movies, even though it's a musical, but that's mainly because "Romeo" dies at the end and "Juliet" doesn't. (Yay people with brains!)
- Perfume: The Story of a Murderer
I absolutely love Perfume by Patrick Süskind. It's so interesting and well-written and great for analysis and reading into the story. Interestingly, it's one of those books I've read only after I watched the movie. But, contrary to the previously mentioned adaptations, while the movie did freak me out at first, I liked and continue to liking it to this day. It is not only a very competent adaptation with reasonable changes, it's also a great movie on its own.
Louis Sachar's Holes is fantastic. It's funny and full of weird ideas and great morals. But what about it's adaptation? Well, it's pretty much the same! Yes, there are some slight changes but they don't really change anything about the story. It's more faithful an adaptation than Perfume but they're both equally great movies.
- The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
This is probably the most interesting of all the adaptations I'm talking about today. Because the movie strays pretty far from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. It might be kinda faithful in the beginning but, at some point, the movie turns it's back on the books. Personally, I think that's great because it does, in a sense, stay faithful to the concept and weirdness of the books while developing a new story line. Hence, it seized the potential it was presented with which, I think, is pretty much the point of an adaptation.
- The Princess Bride
For the longest time I hadn't watched this movie – didn't even know that it exists let alone that it's supposed to be great. And when I first heard about the movie I was super sceptic because the book The Princess Bride by William Goldman is so weird and wanky and doesn't take itself seriously at all. How can you create a faithful adaptation of such a masterpiece? But then, about a year ago, I finally watched it and … I absolutely adore the movie. It's weird and wanky and doesn't take itself seriously at all, just as the book! Moreover, if you're interested in a blatant example of the nature of different potentials between books and movies this one is a great specimen. There are so many scenes that perfectly demonstrated how two different mediums can play with their methods to tell the same story but different. Just take the iconic "rolling down a hill scene" – the book could have never captured this scene as the movie's sound design did. And yes, I am, in fact, insinuating that it's worth watching the movie just for this scene.
- The Lord of the Rings
The Lord of the Rings, of course I have to talk about this one, too. Not only are these some of my all-time favorite books but the adaptation of it is also so incredibly fantastic and has created three of my all-time favorite movies. While I was kinda disappointed at first by some of the changes made I do realize that they all were for the better (or the shorter). The adaptation is incredibly faithful and perfectly captures the essence of the books which the book often hinds behind a loooot of exposition (and dwarfs talking about their ancestry for 10 pages). That being said, this is probably the only book/movie combination where I can say, with a clear conscience, that you can safely watch the movies without having read the books but should totally watch the movies after having read the books.
And that's it! This was a lot of fun and I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I have writing it. Are there any movie adaptations you particularly love or hate?
Have a great day and happy reading!