Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Good and bad book to movie adaptations

There is sometimes a great divide between the book and the movie. There is sometimes a good reason to be pro one and against the other. What makes a great book does not always make a great movie. Many novel writers hate the movie adaptations so much they refuse to lend their names to the credits (comic book icon Alan Moore has great disdain for the adaptations of V for Vendetta and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen).

These are only my top few. Here's your chance to be included in this post. Email here or comment below and include the movie/book title that did or did not work in the adaptation and provide a sentence or two and I'll include you in the post.

When we fall in love with a book we often don't want it to be changed in any way. But that's a bit like decorating a house that we expect not to be changed when the new owner arrives. Even if the house is already perfect, the first thing any new owner does is change something to make it theirs. Even something as simple as paint one wall. When a writer receives that call to make their book into a movie, they have to accept that someone is going to change the drapes. they might not like it, but it's going to happen.

With the recent launch at Comic Con in San Diego of the movie trailer for part one of Mockingjay, the third book in The Hunger Games trilogy, I thought I'd take a look at a few book to movie adaptations.


THE HUNGER GAMES / CATCHING FIRE
book by Suzanne Collins
movies directed by Gary Ross / Francis Lawrence
I think the Hunger Games movies are brilliant. There are actually some parts that I believe are done better. For example, in the book the mockingjay pin was given to Katniss from a school friend. In the movie it was purchased for Primrose who then gave it to Katniss at the reaping day ceremony. This resonates better due to the close relationship. However, the friend in the book is pivotal because it shows Katniss having a friend, and considering she is never portrayed as warm and fuzzy a friend is necessary for teen relationships. However, it works better in the movie to remove the friend - fewer characters. One of the things the movie does well is give us another point of view. The books are written in first person point of view so what the reader sees is very limited. Movies present an omnipotent point of view and the adaptation from first person to omnipotent is done well. There's a review here from Suzanne Collins
here you can read on the first movie  made of the Hunger Games.





SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION
novella by Stephen King
movie directed by Frank Darabont

In this case the movie is better than the book, or novella as is the case with this work, if only for the simple reason that I think the shortened title of the movie is better. The novella is actually called Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption. Sorry if that sounds lame, but I never liked the original title. In the late 80's, Frank Darabont wrote to Stephen King to request the rights to make the movie and King agreed. You can read a great interview with Frank Darabont here. Darabont weaved his own formula for redemption into King's classic and pulled off an awesome movie.





TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD
book by Harper Lee
movie directed by Robert Mulligan

I don't think anyone could walk away from either watching the movie or reading the book and not say, that was great. The movie was made in 1962 and Gregory Peck is impeccable as Atticus Finch. I saw the movie first and read the book years later and I could not differentiate between the two. Gregory Peck IS Atticus Finch. The book was published in 1960. To date it is Lee's only published novel and it has never been out of print. It took Lee two years to write the book and she received donations from friends to write uninterrupted for a year. Thank goodness she was friends with Truman Capote who introduced her to an agent who requested she quit her job at the airline. Now that's what I call fate.




THE OUTSIDERS
book by S E Hinton
movie directed by Francis Ford Coppola

The book and the movie are both dark and that's why I think the adaptation works well. What also works really well is the fabulous line up of actors. The movie was made in 1983 and features the who's who of 80s heart throb talent. Rob Lowe. Tom Cruise. Ralph Macchio. C Thomas Howell. Matt Dillon. Patrick Swayze. Emilio Estevez. Although, at the time these were all unknown actors who went on to big things. The movie was trashed when it was released, but it is a classic and in retrospect, like I said above the darkness of the book is conveyed in the movie. Perhaps in the 80s when it was made they wanted spandex and hot pink. Thank goodness it didn't go glam.




DRACULA
book by Bram Stoker
movie directed by Francis Ford Coppola

This movie is a beautiful piece of cinema. I love Gary Oldman in this movie. It is better than the book only because the book is written so long ago and its not the easiest to read.




There are many more adaptations that work well and I haven't even touched on science fiction yet. These are just a few so if you have any suggestions please let me know via the comments box.

The ones that worked for you:

Alicia Heron of Batemans Bay, Australia:
On the flip side to my previous rant (see below) I think The Bone Collector (Denzel Washington & Angelina Jolie) was a really good adaption of Jeffrey Deavers novel. Sure they made a few changes but I think a movie adaptation should enhance a readers experience of a book not irritate the reader!



Rachel Sawyer of Queensland Australia:
The 100 by Kass Morgan
The 100 character poster
Another book to television adaptation. I personally thought the book was far too short, I started reading, blinked and it was over. I loved the stories, the characters the whole idea behind it! It's fantastic! I was so surprised when I watched the first season because it's a 50/50 half of the book is there and half of it's not, but it's good. It's great actually! It's almost as if the writers of the TV series have expanded so much where Kass was limited to her only so many pages. They've kept her original plot, her ideas, her characters, essentially her starting point and they've branched off and created this wonderful series that hopefully will thrive and keep going for years because it honestly has the potential!


Rachel Sawyer of Queensland Australia:
Divergent by Veronica Roth
This was interesting because the book I thought had a few unnecessary bits in it, like Veronica was just babbling to make a word count or something. I mean it flowed and was a good book, but there was some bits I personally thought weren't needed. When they made the movie they took those out, keeping just the really important bits in and then they kept focusing on those and the tiny details within those which I thought was fantastic! I loved them both!


Rachel Sawyer of Queensland Australia:
The Mortal Instruments; City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
Much like the Percy Jackson series not much remained true to the books except character names. However I actually really liked the movie. Some scenes I thought were captured better in the movie than in the book. And some I thought were better in the books than on the screen. So for me I have to say, I loved both!





Rachel Sawyer of Queensland Australia:Under the Dome by Stephen King
Now this isn't a book to movie, it's a book to television adaptation so I know it's a little different but it is another one I didn't like. I found the book was almost impossible to get through, it was 800 pages of nonsense that wasn't honestly necessary followed by 2 pages of actual "WOW! So that's what's going on!" By the time I had finished the book I swore to myself I'd never read another Stephen King novel if this was how they all were. Then they announced the television series and I thought, maybe I'll give it ago. What a bust! Like the PJ series nothing is the same as the books except for the character names and of course the dome. However the television series has kept me more interested with it's riddles and twist and turns then the book ever did. (And I hate to say this, because I've never been able to, I like the TV series better then the book!)
 

[Authors note: I know what Rachel is saying about Stephen King being hit and miss sometimes. I picked up this book and there are about 5 pages of characters that I had to put it down. I don't need to know every little detail of people's lives in a book. Just the main characters please.]

The ones that didn't work for me:

The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
I'm not sure that this did or did not work. The book was very compelling and the movie is watchable. Actually, the movie is mediocre at best. The book was slammed by many people but it's better than the movie. In other words, I could change the channel if this was on TV or I could watch it if there was nothing else on. And I actually own this book and the follow up Demons and Angels. Ah, maybe I don't know.


Bridget Jones's Diary
The good thing about the movie is that it got to play on the irony of Colin Firth. If you haven't read or seen the book you won't get it. The book is better in this instance.



Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice
I used to love this movie but I tried to watch it recently and I realised that it falls flat when compared to the book. It's a good movie and it's in my collection, but the book is a thousand times better. I feel like I'm betraying Brad and Tom though, because I love them both and to have them in the same movie is a winner, but I love, love, love the book.




The ones that didn't work for you:

Alicia Heron of Batemans Bay Australia:
The Da Vinci Code movie irritates me from the get go - when an author so specifically describes a character "Harrison Ford in tweed" and then the Director hires Tom Hanks (no offense Mr Hanks) it just doesn't fly. Surely they could have hired an unknown actor who held a resemblance to Mr Ford if they couldn't afford Mr Ford himself.


Rachel Sawyer of Queensland Australia:
Percy Jackson and the Olympians; The Lightning Thief (book 1) AND The Sea of Monsters (book 2) by Rick Riordan These books were fantastic, so full of life and adventure and while they maybe directed at 12-16 year olds, I at 18/19 couldn't put them down, I read the five original books in only a few days and the five spin off just after that! I was so excited to find out the first two were being made into movies that I rushed to get tickets and when I sat down with my sister to watch I was shivering with excitement. Much to my disappointment. NOTHING was the same except for the characters names. They didn't look the same, didn't have the same attitudes/characteristics, they were years older then they should've been, the plot was different, the scenery and descriptions; all different. It really upset me that the company couldn't even get simple character appearances right. Rick Riordan even stated that he has never seen any of the movies but he's heard from a lot of fans and friends that it's a train wreck and in my honest opinion he's right!


 Books I want to be made into movies

Robocalypse by Daniel H Wilson. Apparently it's being made. I'm not sure how it will be but I'm dying to watch it.

 
My own of course. Feedback / The Bird with the Broken Wing / Little Red Gem.

http://www.amazon.com/D.-L.-Richardson/e/B00I2LFWXO/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1



Books I don't want to be made into a movie
Am I the only person who doesn't want to watch 50 Shades of Grey. I couldn't stomach the book. There's no way I'll watch the movie.



Other blog posts of mine you might like: to read
Robocalypse review
Top 10 fiction novels
The best horror book to movie adaptations


Don't forget to let me know of any books and movies you think should be on this list. I know there are plenty more.
Catchya!
D L



ABOUT THE AUTHOR


D L Richardson is the author of speculative fiction. She has three teen novels and one short story anthology published. Her first novel reached number 2 at OmniLit and number 38 at Kobo Books. Her second reached number 1 at OmniLit. Little Red Gem is her third novel and recently won 2nd place Best Books of 2013 Paranormal Cravings. She lives in Australia on the NSW south coast with her husband and dog.


Contact information

Email                   dlrichardsonbooks@bigpond.com 
Blog           www.dlrichardsonwrites.blogspot.com
Website          www.dlrichardson.com
Facebook      http://goo.gl/560JXl  
Twitter              www.twitter.com/#!/DLRichardson1




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