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Films and books are different. That's the problem.
Once upon a time, stories were auditory - you listened to someone telling it and now they are written down, so you hear the story with your inner ear as you read it. You use your imagination as you glean more information from the words. You can go at your own pace (and flip back when you suddenly wonder "Who's Mrs Marchant, again?")
Films are visual - pictures instead of pages of description, and plenty of dialogue.
In a book you can say, "Ramoud skirted none too subtly around the whole issue of exactly how Ben had come across his information." In a film, you'd have to show that. The book doesn't say in what way he skirted around the issue. The scriptwriter has to make that up.
So no matter how hard you try, the film is going to be different to the book. Whether a film is better or worse than the book depends on which you saw first, your opinion of it, and your expectations. For example, will they include your favourite bits? Some favourite film scenes may not be part of the book at all. Or some favourite passages in the book might not work for film (or might be missed out because there is so much else to include).
Since childhood, my favourite book has been Lord of the Rings. I have seen some dire cartoon attempts at making it into a film (Boromir as a Viking? Puh-leeese!!) I was extremely cautious when Peter Jackson made his version of the book/trilogy.
I was delighted to see that he made the film as close to the book as possible. Mostly, it was just as I imagined. For other people, they disliked the small changes that had to be made in order for the film to flow properly.
There are always things to niggle over. My pet niggle about the Lord of the Rings film was when the hobbits are shown walking through a field of maize. The book clearly says it is a "corn field" so what's wrong with that? Well, in my youth ALL grains were called 'corn'. Not only that, but older strains of wheat grew to a much greater height than they do today. The book required the corn to be over the heads of the hobbits. Today, that's only possible if you use maize. So I forgave the error and didn't let it spoil my enjoyment of the film.
Of course, not all books are adapted to film so well. But, the converse can be said as well. The Blake's Seven TV series (many moons ago) was made into books - at least, some episodes were - and they were dire. But, then, some folk said the TV series was dire. So it depends on who you are, I guess!!
So my opinion is that you can enjoy both the book and the film as long as you realise they are two different things.
As a huge film buff, I do get tired of people shouting "THEY'RE GOING TO RUIN IT" or "IT WON'T BE AS GOOD AS THE BOOK" whenever a book adaptation into a film is announced. While Hollywood's grubby mits do have a fair reputation of wrangling books into something else, in the right hands, loving renditions can happen, and in the odd occasion, they can even better the book. I am not of the view that "films can never be better than books", and with the extra realms that film add, I think quite the opposite (not to say that the imagination isn't a wonderful thing). I am going to examine one poor adaptation, and one good one:
The Bad One: The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003). This was originally a series of comics and then a graphic novel, which was then torn asunder by the vacuous Hollywood machine. Alan Moore is a great writer, as he has proven with V For Vendetta and Watchmen, and his novel of this was no different, but Stephen Norrington's film was an overly safe treatment that drained the dark life and soul of the novel and made it a standard superhero film.
The Good One: Fight Club (1999). The novel's author, Chuck Palahniuk, even admits himself that David Fincher's film took the source material in a direction he could never have imagined, and even he concedes that the film is better than the book. Thanks to Fincher's amazing direction and some excellent performances, a great novel has been given even greater personality on-screen, and I still think it's the best novel adaptation ever. It makes a few changes that actually BETTER the story, and by and large it's a lot more streamlined.
In short, film adaptations work because they bring a great story to a larger audience who generally don't like to read. It's a shame people are like this, but often I also just want to see the novel on-screen, not because I lack imagination, but because I love films and want to see how directors can artfully translate them to the sreen. Yes, we have to sit through a lot of duds, but the elitism about "OH THEY EXCISED FIVE PAGES THAT WERE IN THE BOOK" gets very annoying from intellectual snobs, because surely we want the film to carve out its own identity rather than borrow everything verbatim from the novel?
Books vs. movies, how do you compare the two. They are such different creatures. I love them both. There is nothing like curling up on the couch on a rainy day with a good book. But on the other hand, there is nothing like curling up, late on a Friday night with a bowl of popcorn and a good horror movie. Two completely different things. But then you add to the mix the wonderful/terrible blend of a movie made from a book. *gasp* Can they do that? Yes, and they do it all the time. Taking the wonderful words of one author or another and turning it larger than life and plastering it on the big screen. When I first got the idea to write this opinion, I really thought that there were very few movies made from books that did a good job of it. But then I started my research and found several that I felt did a very adequate, if not excellent job of interpreting a novel to the big screen. Now, of course, there are also those who do a crap job of it. Especially the ones that are “loosely based on a novel by” Then, you can almost guarantee that it will be very different from the book. And if you liked the book, you probably wouldn’t like the movies. However, there are arguments for all sides of this debate. Here are a few of the examples that I have come up with for all sides. You may or may not agree with me, but I found that it isn’t as clear cut as I first imagined. Books that are better than the movie; .The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo - while heavy handed on the descriptions at time, this tale of power, betrayal, lust and love is potent. Lots of violence, death and emotion. Reading this book can leave you with questions about your life, your religion and love. Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame – while not the only film version of this great novel, I used Disney’s version as a prime example of how Disney is one of the worst movie companies for taking a grea
t piece of literature and bastardizing it for money. Turning it into a fun romp around Paris where almost no one dies and it has a happy ending. Almost every strong point about this book was missed. Disney turned it into a book about not judging a book by its cover, which is NOT the point behind the book at all, but only a small part. Bram Stoker’s Dracula (the book) – hailed as one of the finest horror books ever written, a great piece of literature, I have to say that this book kept me on the edge of my seat. The descriptions, the fear, the Victorian setting all woven together in a great novel makes it a book worth reading again and again. Bram Stoker’s Dracula (the movie) – produced by Francis Ford Coppola, I’ve never seen a more botched work. I have to say that this is one movie that I completely despised, not only because it did such a shoddy job of telling a powerful and wonderful story, but because it was a botch job of a movie in itself. Dark, confusing, but most of all, it was dull. The book kept me on the edge of my seat, the movie, on the edge of sleep. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess – here is a book that looks at violence and crime in society and takes you down the path of Alex, the main character. This book is set in a futurist, but realistic realm. Told in “slang” there is a dictionary in the back of the book to help with words you wouldn’t understand. This book is a very difficult read, but well worth the effort. It has a strong statement of violence and sex in society and where it might lead. A Clockwork Orange (the movie) – directed by Stanley Kubrick. While this film is not a real dog, however, I think that it loses so much in the viewing. When reading the book, the violence and sex is very much a bad thing, you are repulsed by it. In the movie, it almost turns it into an action flick with a bit of comedy thrown in. The book poses some v
ery serious questions about how to reform criminals. The movie seems to be more of a romp through Alex’s life. I don’t think it was what Kubrick intended, I just don’t think that this is a book that needed to be brought to the mass public. When I hear people talk about the movie, they seem to revel in the violence and agree with it. Maybe this is just proof that the book was right. Violence isn’t going away, it is actually becoming more acceptable. The Witches of Eastwick by John Updike – this book is a wonderful, fun look at society, witchcraft, relationships, love, sex and women. While not for everyone, definitely a woman’s book, it makes some great points about women not allowing their lives to be dictated by men and empowering themselves. It also shows a great statement of how conservative and prudish people could be. While not a great piece of literature, still a good read with lots of humor and valid points. The Witches of Eastwick (the movie) – directed by George Mill II, was far from the effective statement that the book was. The movie turned the story into a fluffy, funny tale of vindictive women, silly pranks and bad porn. Jack Nicolson as the sexy main male character comes off lame and flat. Rather than sexy, he comes across as sloppy, rude and unattractive. The obsession the movie seems to take with food and sex seems to play to the most base of emotions instead of brining up valid points of sensuality and lust as the book did. I feel the movie did nothing more than cater to a mindless audience. Movies I feel compliment the books: The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle – probably my all time favorite fantasy novel, I’ve read this book several times and will read it several more. The imagery, the storyline, the details, the characters are all vivid and fascinating. My children have read this book and loved it. It is the story of the last unicorn seeking others o
f her kind; her quest brings her far from her home and in touch with many people. It will make you laugh, cry and think. The Last Unicorn (the movie) – an animated version of the book, I have yet to find a movie that sticks closer to the story than this. It brings to life characters I knew almost like family, a soundtrack that compliments the tale completely, with all of my favorite lines from the book intact. An excellent job that will bring magic to our dull, gray lives. It may even inspire those who would not normally read a book to pick it up and give it a go. Lord of the Rings by J.R. Tolken – Probably one of the most indepth, complete works of fantasy to date. Tolken creates a world and fills it with beings of magic, wonder and skill. He pulls you in with wonderful descriptions and characters you get to know making the tale come alive in the reading. It has been said that Tolken is the Father of Fantasy. It could possibly be true. Lord of the Rings (the movie) – I have to admit to some trepidation when I heard they were making a movie from Tolken’s great works. Having seen how badly movies from books can be, I worried that they would torture and destroy a great book. But I was in line to see it when it came out. And it was a wonderment of color, sound and magic. I sat, transfixed as his world came to life before my eyes. The biggest complaint that I’ve heard about this movie is the sudden ending leaving you hanging there. But, this was from anyone who hadn’t read the books. If they had read the books, they would know that this is a trilogy. The movie stops where the first book stops. The next movie will pick it up. I think that if they are that concerned with finding what happens, go get the book and read all three. Then you will know. :) Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by JK Rowling – I will admit that I bought this book for my daughter, but being me, I had to read it
too. I loved it. Even though it is geared towards a younger audience, I found it captivating and fun. It kept me guessing and turning pages. The descriptions and characters were fun and believable, even if it is based on fiction. I think that just as important, it inspired many kids who might not be readers to pick up a book and read. Which I think is invaluable. Adults and children alike love this book. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (the movie) – another movie that I was worried wouldn’t live up to the standards of the book. However, we took all three of our daughters to see the movie for their birthdays. Of course, we had to tag along ;-) And we found ourselves just as enthralled with the wide screen wonder as the girls. The characters were well cast, the plot was stuck to, and many great quotes from the book were present. I think the movie did an excellent job of portraying the excitement, the magic and emotion without over doing the graphics and special effects. It didn’t come across as over blown or phony. The casting was excellent and we eagerly await the second movie. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee – now here is a classic for you. A definite statement about social, economical and racial standards. This is a case where I saw the movie before I read the book. However, I believe that the book does a superb job of showing the prejudice and social problems of the era in a simple language that many people can enjoy. It is easy to read and understand. It also portrays the characters in a very real, believable way. To Kill a Mockingbird (the movie) – directed by Richard Mulligan, this film sticks very closely to the book and does an excellent job of keeping the small town feeling to it. The children are portrayed exactly as they were in the book. Gregory Peck does a perfect job in the role as a small town lawyer, with the unusual trait of morals. A black and white film, it has all of the
qualities that I find attractive in a movie based on a book. First, it stuck to the plot of the book. Second, it included all important scenes from the book. Third, it didn’t add all kinds of unnecessary glop to attract an audience. No cleavage, no fancy special effects, no unnecessary violence or sex. This may have to do with the era that it was made in, but all in all, it is far and above one of the best movies ever based on a book. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck – forced to read this book in school, I have to say, I was a bit surprised. While not my usual read, in fact, not an author I fancy at all, I did find it very interesting and held my attention through it. Parts of it were a bit confusing and vague, but all in all, a good read. Not something I would have chosen to read myself, but glad that I did. Of Mice and Men (the movie) – directed by Gary Sinise, this is one of a few movie versions of this book. I chose this version simply because it is the one that I have seen. Now, I did not choose to see this movie any more than I chose to read the book. In fact, I really thought that it would not transfer to a movie at all. It was at my friend’s insistence that I sat through it. Now, I am a fan of Gary Sinise, so I did go into it with an open mind. I have to say that the movie did an excellent job of it. All in all, it stuck to the story line, it brought to life the characters in a very believable manner. I found myself enjoying the relationships between the characters and the excellent portrayal of the emotions that the book brings out so strongly. While I will probably never read the book again, it is possible I would see the movie again. Which is rare, but true. Lastly I would like to mention the rare times I have found that the movie surpassed the book: The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne – one of the worst books I’ve ever struggled through, I found this book to have a ver
y good plot. However, Hawthorne drags it down with long, dry, boring descriptions and half stated ideas. If he had done all he could have with this story line and cut out so much of the dry drivel, it would have been a good book. As it is, I would never touch this book again unless it was to kill a spider. The Scarlet Letter (the movie) – directed by Roland Joffe, I found this movie brought out all the passion, romance, emotion, lust and excitement that the book lacked. It brought to a head all of the issues that the book merely hinted at. Let alone, you are spared all of the long, dry parts. One of the very rare cases where the movie far surpassed the book. I would watch this movie again. Demi Moore does an excellent job. The whole picture is well put together and everything I would have wanted the book to be. Two thumbs up on this one. The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas – while this book was not as horrible as The Scarlet Letter, I must admit it dragged on and on with tons of useless information and description. It was dull and heavy. What I would consider to be an action story, instead is a bedtime story with my eyes sliding shut as Dumas drags on. Far too much description and not enough action. I got through it once, I won’t subject myself to it again. The Three Musketeers (the movie) – produced by Stephen Herek, I would subject myself to this movie again and again. While many points of the book are lost (thank goodness) and the story line isn’t stuck to religiously, I think the parts they took out not only helped to trim the story down and make it manageable, it brought out the adventure without losing the integrity of the story. Unnecessary characters were taken out, excitement put in. All in all, a superb romping tale with tons of fun put in. I own this movie and watch it many times with my kids, alone, with friends. Fantastic job! Well, there you have it, the good, the bad and the u
gly. I was surprised at how this opinion turned out. I started out with one point of view – books are better than movies. I ended with a completely different view, even finding some cases where I preferred the movie to the book. Nothing will ever replace books in my heart. I will always love reading. But on the flip side of that coin, nothing will ever take away my love of film either. I know that it is all a matter of opinion (good thing I’m putting in an opinion web site then). Books, movies, your choice. But I would be careful about mixing the two together. Making a movie from a book is tricky business. Some do it well, some fail miserably. So, whether you curl up with a good book or turn on your favorite flick, enjoy. Peace
The cinema has always plundered bookshelves in search of material, from golden oldies like "Gone with the Wind" to more recent "Harry Potter". Many films that don't advertise their source book turn out to be book based - so are directors picking books because there are some fine plots that would transfer well to the big screen, or because they think there might be some money in it? It has to be said, that there are books that do better on the big screen than they do a a reading experience - I thought that "Bridget Jones" was an insipid read - I laughted out loud once. The film I found really funny and of the two had the better (and more realistic) set of subplots. But the book had been a huge commercial sucess, so the film was likely to rake in the money. Many films take their source book (lets use Captain Corelli by way of an example) because the book has an audience and will sell tickets. The book in this case was far too complex for a film - vast reams of politics subplot and detail vanished without a trace, leaving a boy-meets-girl plot that was much like any other boy-meets-girl plot you could think of. So the scenery was nice. What the film did was reduce the book, make it smaller, poorer, and then sell it again. I don't think we gained much from that. The triming of the plot in "Dune" is another fine example of this sort of problem - that was a book that should never have been filmed, it is too big. Film version invariably feel the urge to meddle to make the film more palatable. (See Captain Corelli and the differences in endings) Disney are the worst culprits for this one with their cheesey Hunchback of Notre Dam, turning a tragic tale into something with dancing goats and singing. Films often take the real emotional depth out of a piece, or feel obliged to add a love interest, or not kill off a character who was originally a tragic hero. For anyone who has read the book, these are of
ten deeply frustrating changes, rarely do they add anything, and mroe often they detract. So, when is it ok to do the film of the book? I would argue that there's a case if you've found some obscure work of genius and want to bring it to a wider audience. Can I think of any examples? Well, no. There might be a case for "Trainspotting" but that's all that occurs.(Feel free to comment if you can, it would be interesting to know.) If the book is inately filmable - if you could take it as it is and realise it on screen without having to tinker. This is often true of children's cinema (I think Harry Potter transfered very well)I also heard that Speilberg wanted to reset Potter in the states, and that Rowling had the integrity to refuse. Some books imply strong visual settings that the writer has not fully realised, and that can be portrayed by film to good effect. I'm thinking now of "The Lord Of the Rings" - which I've read, and didn't really enjoy. The film works very well because it gives you that striking set of landscapes without having to occupy pages with slow journeys. The final good reason for filming a book is because you have something you want to do with it/say about it. This sometimes happens when the books are older, and our view of how the world is has changed. Often the stories are revised to be more PC (sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn't) or presented to emphasise the prejudices of the time. Perhaps the best example is "Apocalypse Now" which updates Conrad's dark colonial tale to Vietnam. The film gives a new perspective on the book, and also comments on the war - which is very effective. Most attempts to 'update' books are just painful though - many stories depend on their setting to make any real sense at all. Austin and Shakespeare redone in high school settings (Clueless, ten things I hate about you) lack the sexual tensions that made the ori
ginals work, lack the social structures that informed relationships in the original novels, and largely seem a touch pointless. Occasionally, the film of the book turns out to be a real gem. Mostly its a tad depressing. The curious thing is I can think of oh so many examples of these films, because I've seen them. I remain a cynic but often am drawn to such films from a desier to see what they've done. Once in a blue moon, you get a piece that works - "Interview with a Vampire" was excellent, most are not. Even a doubting Thomas like me pays up and goes to see - proof that in terms of getting bums on seats, the book fo the film does work very well. The other reason igo, is that if the book was good, the film is bound to have at elast some semblance of a plot. The material coming out of Holywood these days is abysmal - months will pass without there being anything much worth seeing. The mainstream of the film industry seems to have run out of ideas, and its willingness to borrow from other sources is just a symptom of this. On the whole though, better the film of the book than the film of the video game.
In the past few years, four of my favourite books have been written- The Beach, Chocolat, Bridget Jones's Diary and Captain Corelli's Mandolin. For those of you who don't read, you will only recognise these as film titles - because they have all been made into films. Whenever the film is released, the inevitable will always be asked - does it live up to the book, is it worth the hype that will always surround such a film, and should classics of modern fiction be dramatised at all? When The Beach was released at the cinema after months of production problems, most people slated it. Almost every review I read claimed the first half of the film was good, before descending into pitiful depths by the halfway mark. In my opinion, the first half of the film stuck accurately to the book, being a clear visualisation of what I had imagined whilst reading it. The second half was quite simply very different to the novel. The plot was different and central characters to the book were missing. Chocolat, released early this year, received mixed reviews. The gorgeous Juliette Binoche, who played the lead role, was praised, but many felt that the film was just a little too sweet. Certain characters changed- Pantoufle changed from a rabbit to a kangaroo, whilst the vicar's role in the book was portrayed by a mayor in the film. Bridget Jones's Diary, released last year, was reviewed by many as being good fun to watch, but nothing particularly special. The public, on both sides of the Atlantic, has reacted rather differently, and it is set to become the most successful British film ever. The film is full of laughs and is a great joy to watch- although once more, huge sections have been written out. Didn't we all want to see Bridget's mum being arrested and Tom entering the beauty contest? Why didn't her friend's get bigger parts? The fourth book is Captain Corelli's Mandolin, an absolute epic novel, and although I ha
ve not seen the film yet, I have been assured that it is nothing more than a pleasant love story. Those who have read the novel will tell you that Captain Corelli's Mandolin is much more than that. So should best selling books be turned into movies? It can be argued that the films can ruin your perception of a book. Before this year, everyone who had read Bridget Jones?s Diary would have had their own image of Bridget in their head. Now of course, Bridget Jones is Renée Zellweger. I had a totally different perception of the hut in The Beach and Vianne's chocolatérie until I saw the films. Are these films there so we don?t have to visualise things for ourselves any more? However, I would argue that this would be the case only if the film was an exact replica of the novel. The critics lay into a film if the plot is changed or altered radically, but if a carbon copy of the book was put on to the film screen, the movie makers would be accused of being unoriginal. My personal view is that to enjoy both the book and the film, they must be looked at as totally separate packages. Chocolat the film and Chocolat the book are both great within their own rights, and therefore I see no real need to compare them. I'm sure the producers of Captain Corelli and Bridget Jones would tell you that it is impossible to include every twist and turn of a book in a film. I would say to read the book before going to see the film - if you read a book after a film, you can become frustrated by the novel's more extensive plot. Ignore the critics in the media - they'll always try to compare the two.
After going to see Lord of the Rings at the cinema i think that if you want to see the film don't read the book till afterwards. Having read the books several times over the years i found that i spent most of the time whilst watching the film thinking oh they've missed this or that out, and found the film lacking the depth of the book. Yes, usually films help to put the imagination of the author into a visual manner that we the public can follow and help us see if what we thought things should look or sound like are the same. It can be a funny way of seeing how it should/could be like. Yet on the downside if the film doesn't live upto the book it can lead to a disappointed reader leaving the cinema. I asked the people who went with me what they thought and they didn't exactly rave about it. Yet my brother thought it was brilliant, he went with the attitude of just watching the film and not thinking about all the bits that were missing from the book. I only wish i could have done that, I just couldn't stop myself from thinking what about what happens here, like when they were at the 'prancing pony'the sequence of events there was alot shorter and missed some pertinant bits ( or so I thought), or they said that in the book. Films tend to miss out what they think isn't neccessary, but sometimes they get it wrong. Like in this case not showing the growing friendship between the dwarf and the elf. To me in the book this shows that even people who are trained by generations of hate on both sides can learn to get along and even become friends. They both use the journey as a chance to learn and teach each other even if it is done through a competitive way whilst battling all their foes. So in answer to the question read or watch first, I think i'd probably watch and then read so i wouldn't be dissappointed if it didn't live upto my expectations.
Descartes was right. I think, therefore I am. When we read are book, we are forced to think, to use our imaginations to bring the characters and the setting to life. When we watch a film, all this hard work is done for us; the appearance of the hero, the rolling countryside, the frightening monster, all of these are presented to us. We do not need to strive to contribute to the creative process and it would seem that the experience could, therefore, never be as satisfying. The ultimate result of this is inevitably going to be that if you have read a book, watching the film can never be as fulfilling. Another drawback is that we enter the cinema with pre-conceived ideas. When we leave the cinema we are filled with criticisms; the hero was too tall, the stepmother too kind, the castle too gothic. We have used our imaginations to create the author’s world in our minds and we were pleased with our creations. When we see the director’s visions of the same world we can only be disappointed. They can never be identical to ours and will inevitably, in our view, be inferior. The other frequently heard criticism is ‘it was nothing like the book’. How many times have we uttered that remark on leaving the cinema after watching the adaptation of one of our favourite novels? For example, Stephen King wrote a short story of ‘The Running Man’, which was made into a film with Arnold Schwarzenegger. In the book our hero dies at the end in the process of wreaking revenge on his tormentors. There are no prizes for guessing that in the film the ending is entirely different; the guy gets the girl and they all live happily ever after. Good lord – it wouldn’t do for a Hollywood film to have an unhappy ending. There is a similar change in the ending of the film of Stephen King’s book ‘Cujo’. Here we really can’t be surprised, as in the book the young boy, who is our hero
, dies and that is another big Hollywood no-no. One dooyooer (you know who you are – Iain) told me that when this film was previewed to selected audiences with an original ending with the boy dying, the reaction was extremely negative. If that sad ending had been in the film, box office figures would have fallen and yet the book is a best-seller. This also shows that we are expecting different things from reading a book and watching a film. It seems that watching a film is more of a short-term investment in entertainment. It is a ‘quick fix’. We want to be pleasured by the film. Scared if it is a horror, amused if a comedy but what we don’t want is our expectations to be challenged. We want to leave the cinema satisfied by the experience but it is only short-term and the next week we will go to the cinema again. With a book, it obviously takes longer to read and so we are involved in its world and the author’s creations for a longer period of time. We are using our minds and imaginations and it is stimulating us intellectually as well as emotionally. With books we are making a mental investment and, therefore, it is more acceptable for the death of a hero, as it is all part of the process of giving us a ‘long term fix’; it gives us food for thought, it provokes a deep set reaction within our mind, which we are pleased to rise to the challenge of facing. The film of the book is often inevitably more shallow than the book. A book can give us an insight into the thoughts and motivations of the characters, enriching their personalities. This is extremely hard to present through a film in an acceptable manner. For example, returning to ‘Cujo’, in the book we ‘hear’ what the boy’s pet dog is thinking as he is running through the fields, when he encounters a rabid bat that bites his nose, we ‘hear’ his pain and confusion, which can never be put across in a fi
lm. Some directors do attempt this. Another example, again a Stephen King adaptation ‘Misery’; in the book after the hero’s traumatic experience he is physically safe but he is haunted emotionally and keeps having awful heart-wrenching moments when he feels that his tormentor is everywhere he goes and there is no escape from her. In the film the hero ‘sees’ his tormentor everywhere, his waitress at a restaurant suddenly changes into her and we know that he is plagued by memories. However, this instance shows that even if the director tries to give us the impression of an inner struggle it is really only possible to do this with simple a more simple premise. Another inner struggle the hero in ‘Misery’ has is when he is suffering from drug withdrawal, pain and fear simultaneously. This is represented by the author in his mind as a horse race, each emotion being represented by a horse; as the pain grows, that horse runs into the lead but is soon overtaken by the drug withdrawal horse as the cold turkey symptoms envelop him. Such complex imagery could never be replicated in a film. The final, rather obvious, way in which a film can never live up to its book is caused by the time restraint. A book takes a long time to read and the amount of action and thought which occurs can never be recreated in two or three hours of screen viewing. A prime example of this is ‘Bridget Jones’ Diary’; in most respects the film was extremely true to the book, however, there just was not the time to explore all the side plots that occurred in the book and most of her friends remained minor characters in the film and their own trials and tribulations were not even touched upon. I am, however, delighted to see that the upcoming ‘Lord of the Rings’ adaptation is not to be tackled in one film, so they are giving themselves a fighting chance; the proof of the pudding shall be in the eating.
If you have read a book and go to see the film you are, for the reasons detailed above, bound to be disappointed. The only way in which you can counteract this outcome is to enter the cinema with the thought in mind that you are expecting (and indeed, seeking) a different experience from that which you derived from the book. You want to be entertained, purely and simply, no more, no less. If you remember this, then your quest for short-term amusement will be satisfied.
When thinking about the film of the book in my opinion it depends on how much the person concerned reads, for example, Captain Corelli's Mandolin, the first half of the book is purely historicla and is not as detailed in the film whereas the film focuses on the last half of the book - the love story entwined in the history. Only a strong reader would be able to read all of the book whereas a weaker reader would possibly only manage the film. On the other hand with other books such as the Green Mile amongst others the film can only expand on the book and add different ideas to the picture that you may already hold of that book. The quetion is though - Harry Potter I read in a day and have a very vivid idea of how the story should go - so the question is, is that if everyone has read the book - surely this wwould be the best film to compare to a book as they would be a wide variety of critics and it would be easy fopr everyone ot compare the two - we shall all see!
Read the book if you can be bothered, It's much better - Advantages: Many people are to lazy to read books, can be more exciting - Disadvantages: never as much detail, "the pictures are better on the radio" (or in the book), sorry, I've quoted that before too much
I love reading and I love watching films, but it’s not often I do both for the same piece of work. I will begin with a few brief examples of comparisons, then concentrate on a case study. Thinking back, there have been a few times I have read a book, then watched the film or vice versa. I studied Shakespeare’s Hamlet at A-level and went on a residential Hamlet weekend, which was excellent. Besides various academic exercises with the text, we also watched several (I think it was three) versions of the film, from the early black and white one to more recent. All were really impressive, but also quite different. It is interesting how the same piece of writing can be interpreted in such a variety of ways. I know I loved both the book and the film of John Grisham’s The Pelican Brief. Although Grisham’s work is often legally based, I followed the book easily enough and found it exciting and intriguing. The film was just as good, with the expert visual effects just enhancing the drama. Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice is one of my favourite books and yes, the TV adaptation was wonderful too – but it was given plenty of hours and a big budget to help it along. Flowers In The Attic by Virginia Andrews is a very disturbing, but excellent book to read, the sort that has you on the edge of your seat and hurrying onto the next page. The film was good, but the book was better. *********** Now onto my main focus of this opinion, comparing the book Inconceivable by Ben Elton with the film version, Maybe Baby (2000). *********** After having read the book Inconceivable by Ben Elton, myself and my fiancé decided to rent the video of the film of the book (Still with me?), Maybe Baby. We had both enjoyed reading it and looked forward to seeing the movie version. Of course, with hindsight, we realised we should have seen the film before reading
the book – so a warning to anyone out there, get it round the right way! The movie was made last year and stars Joely Richardson as Lucy with Hugh Laurie as her husband, Sam Bell. As in the book, the main focus of the story is about their infertility and the lengths they go to, in their quest for having a baby together. Having read Ben Elton’s book and known it was partly autobiographical, I had read the novel with Ben Elton as Sam. However, it was easy enough to change my allegiances and accept Hugh Laurie, who was very convincing and endearing, as ever. He has a very expressive face and although in no way drop dead gorgeous, he is pleasing to watch, with a warmth about him that makes him extremely likeable. Hugh Laurie also seems to have made that giant step to being accepted by American audiences, hence turning up as the token Brit in several big films – 101 Dalmatians and Stuart Little, for instance. Joely Richardson is perfect as Lucy. I hadn’t visualised her as well in the book, so had few preconceptions about what she looked like. Joely was ideal - pretty and fresh-faced without the over the top beauty which often restricts an actress’ credibility. The cast as a whole is very good, with the only let down being James Purefoy as Carl Phipps, the handsome actor who fancies Lucy. He was completely different to how I had imagined in the book and I don’t think his character came across as well on the screen as it did in the book. But several of the cast are outstanding, especially amongst those with smaller roles. Deserving a special mention are two actors I had not seen before - Matthew MacFadyen who is spot-on as BBC bigwig, Nigel and Tom Hollander as eccentric Scottish director Ewan Proclaimer. Excelling in small but memorable cameo appearances are Dawn French and Rowan Atkinson. Dawn plays a loud, brash Aussie nurse, who is more than happy to discuss sperm sa
mples, while Rowan steals the scenes he is in with his omnipresent sharp wit as Mr. James, the fertility specialist. The story is a good one, an interesting topic and gives the actors plenty of scope to show a wide range of emotions – one minute you’ll be laughing, the next you’ll get a lump in your throat. It is also the sort of film that will question your morals – What would you do if you were married, but approached by a hunky celeb who seemed to offer more than your boring spouse? Would you read your partner’s diary? Would you publicise your heartbreak and distress, if it could further your career? So, as you can tell, the film has its good bits, but overall, I found it disappointing. The story was condensed so much that it seemed to whizz along far too fast, without pausing for breath. There were the inevitable omissions and complete changes in scenes – but these would only seem annoying for those that had read the book first. There were also fewer laughs, with much of the dialogue from the book left out altogether and some of it not working so well on screen. The book is really a laugh-out-loud experience, whereas the movie produced fewer titters and guffaws all round. It is a British film and a gentle romantic comedy, as are many of my favourite films – Notting Hill, Billy Elliott, The Full Monty – but somehow, it doesn’t seem to work as well, it falls short somehow, it turns up at the door but without the right package. It’ll be interesting to see what people thought to it as a stand-alone film, not having read the book, maybe they enjoyed it more. I would certainly recommend it, it’s worth seeing, but is inferior to the novel. *********** Of course, the problems we have in comparing the written word and the acted visual interpretation are plentiful. Our imagination is a unique and individual thing R
11; each reader of a book will have an idea of what each character looks like, how they speak, the way they move. The team who produce the film version will have their own ideas. You might have cast Julia Roberts as the lead in a period drama, only to find that once again Helena Bonham-Carter is dragged into a corset for the cinema-going public. The reality of such decisions is influenced by a whole host of criteria – usually cost orientated. Many of you will know I’m a big Dr. Who fan, but I’m sure we can all recall a shaky set or an unconvincing monster from the TV series. Well, let me tell you – the new BBC Novels of Dr. Who have an unlimited budget, featuring realistic other worlds, fantastical creatures and not a piece of cardboard in sight. Impressive, eh? Sometimes it works, you enjoy the novel, you love the film – but often it doesn’t. If you plan to do both, I suggest watching the film first and enjoying it for what it is. If you then read the book, hopefully it will fill in any gaps and the characters will spring off the page, already painted for you. Doing it the other way round is usually a bad idea. The film often seems a poor imitation of a wonderful book. Maybe Baby – as above – is a perfect example of this.
Before I started thinking about this topic, I'd definitely have said that the book will always beat the film and that there are some books that just can't convert to film. But that's not always the case, and some adaptations do work, maybe not as well as fans of the books would like them to, but enough to bring wonderful stories and works to a new audience or even to a new generation. Let's consider BBC adaptations of some of the considered classics of English Literature (mostly Dickens at the moment, but hey, they did Gormenghast too). I happen to have studied English Literature, so I tend not to watch many of the adaptations, but sometimes peek in on them to see what they've done to characters and stories I know only too well. And what's the general verdict, things don't look 'right', they meddle with my imagination of how things should be, characters don't look as I imagined them or heaven forbid, as they were described by the author. This will always niggle, and books will ALWAYS have more detail in them than films or TV series. That's just a fact. But it doesn't detract from the fact that it is possible to enjoy both. I've read the Exorcist and seen the film. Yes, they're not the same, but I'm glad I saw the film and I wouldn't have read the book if I hadn't. And this is the crux of my point, I suppose. Films appeal to a much wider audience than books these days, often they're cheaper (which is depressing in and of itself). Big stars can get crowds to otherwise obscure independent or genre films, and through this books are often publicised and new people get to see and read them. This is what I like about adaptations and what I feel makes them wholly defensible. Without them some great stories and very talented writers would have a much smaller audience. Also, and this is my final cheeky point, I often feel like people who've read the book l
ike to lord it over those who've seen the film, as if reading the book is more learned and intellectual an approach to a story. Maybe it is, but it's not very pleasant considering that reading isn't really a good mark of intellect, just of reading in itself.
Film adaptions offer a clear example of how the same story can be given a different interpretation. Whenever we read the book we produce our own version or picture of the story, so when the film is adapted it distorts out impression of the story. Parts are missed out or portrayed in a different way in which we imagined from reading the book. The director may see the story in a different light from us and this may be obvious in the final product. We find characters are missing or the actor playing the part isn't as effective as we wanted them to be. The visual images, dialogue or sound effects has been over emphasised to gain dramatic impact for the audience not necessarily what the author of the book intended. By condensing the story they have to cut out scenes, events or characters as time and money is of the essence. They have to concentrate on the main thrust of the story whereas the book encourages us to use our imagination and create the images ourselves. We can concentrate on the story and not be distracted by the car smashes, loud music or background going ons. Although it may be enjoyable to watch the film it never outweighs the original story in text form.
After weeks of writing no opinions, I have finally slipped away from my lair, grabbed some inspiration and am raring to go! Opinion number eight, ‘The Film of the Book’. Movies based on books often get put down for various reasons, I’m sure you would discover that after looking at a few other opinions in this topic. I love to curl up in bed with a good book, but this happens rarely, as I hardly ever gain much time to do so, meaning a movie is much more practical for me. But why do these films become occasionally disliked? There must be a few good points about watching them. Whilst a film can be watched after a couple of hours, a book can take maybe a week to fully absorb, with the reader gaining a sense of achievement over the completion. This feeling cannot be received after viewing a film. Feel free to try and prove me wrong. But what if you hate the story? After a bad film, you may have wasted just two hours of your life. So what! A bad book can waste every night for a week. Sure you can throw the book out and not read, but that’s not something I can do. I feel urged to keep reading in the hope that excitement may arise, until ending the story and realising how bad it was. A book is much more emotional. For example, two seconds of a film may be expressed by several pages of a book, describing the situation and mood at that moment. A movie-watcher would be deprived! One reason why a person may choose to watch a film as opposed to reading the book is because it is less time-consuming. That’s perfectly fine, as long as they realise they are missing out on vital aspects. In a book, the plot is important, but it's the additional magic which completes the story. Usually, I attempt to read the book first, before viewing it’s technological offspring. The main reason for this is because the story can be unfolded by my own imagination, allowing me to piece together my own pictures of characters a
nd places in my head, whereas when watching a film based upon a book, you are given the director’s interpretation, without the opportunity to make up your own mind about how large a character’s nose is, or how tall they are. When reading the book after the film, my head is often plagued by the sights I previously viewed. Careful description is available to take in from books. For instance, a beautiful garden may be described over ten pages of a book, with your own pretty vision in your head, courtesy of your imagination. When a second-hand view is handed to you in a film, it won’t stand out without the help of a terrific director. I find that reading books can be extremely useful. As a youngster, like many people, I was often encouraged to do a fair amount of reading to improve vocabulary and spelling, and I’m glad I did. I enjoyed it, and at the same time learned skills. Reading is a useful and valuable experience. Now what would this opinion be like if I didn’t attempt to defend the films? But producing these films based on books does have advantages. Films generally tend to be more popular, with much more hype over a newly released film than a new book. When the public view the movies, the story becomes much wider-spread, and a worthy film will cause many people to find the book. When reading books, your one and only tool is your imagination, meaning some parts may be hard to visualise, which is where a film’s stunts and special effects become handy. Personally, I would rather watch a stunt in a film than simply imagine it. Along with a faster paced story, films are much more exciting. They rarely take a long time to get into and enjoy, whilst a book depends on the speed at which you read. Another (slightly petty) advantage is that you are able to watch a film with little effort, whereas, when reading, you risk the chance of straining your eyes. So there you have it! If you have the
time, try the book for the original, unchanged story. If not, watch the film. Both are great in different ways. HOT_DOG_GOD 2001
No, not the type I suppose. They would rather beat a great novel to death with a stick than keep the integrity of the book intact for a screen adaptation, or any adaptation for that matter. If the screenwriters are so utterly gifted, why can't they write a good story themselves rather than rip apart a brilliant novel? Bang! There it goes and there it will stay. I have never-and I will repeat NEVER seen an adaptation of a book that I liked at all. Key elements of the story get omitted and the whole escapade turns into a terrific waste of time and expense for those who actually have committed a few hours of their life to reading the book-which appears to me to be a diminishing art form. Instant gratifications are as fruitful as a gorgeous man with no wit. The packaging is all well and good, but there is something lacking in the make up of the creature. A soul. When you read, your mind can transport you to places grander than that of any set that can be constructed. Any location that can be scouted. The players of the parts have more depth, more heart, and look more the part than anything you will see on a screen. Stars lacquered and dressed to look the part that may just come across as stuffy and irritating. The scope of imagination is limitless, and rather than watch someone else's imagination be brought to life, I much prefer keeping mine playing in my head and not be bitterly disappointed by miscast actors, stuffy sets, bad locations, and what's worse missing dialogue or deleted scenes. Pshaw! So keep your pretty movies and your ideas of what you think the writer meant. Hackney the meaning and significance by overplayed parts which have nothing to do with the original characters. Allow the people who have not read it to not know the joys that can be created in the minds eye. I will take my book.
I have seen many films and read many books. However, I do not make a habit of watching the film of a book i've read or vice versa!! It is such a disappointment to see the film once you have read the book. When you read a book you form these ideas of what the characters look like and picture what the scenery must look like. A book also goes into much more detail. A book can describe things the way they are, whereas in a film it can only go so far. So once you see the film that is based on a novel you have read, you can be disappointed because perhaps the book was so good that you expect too much from the film so therefore you feel a bit let down. Silence of the Lambs, for example. I read the book a few months before seeing the film. I absolutely loved the book. Couldn't put it down! I thought it was a brilliant book so I was looking forward to seeing the movie. I came away feeling a bit deflated!It was a good film, don't get me wrong, but the book was way better, there's no comparison there! There are other more minor films that I have seen also where I had read the book previously, 'Flowers in the attic' for instance. I found the book very good while I found the film very poor. You just build these impressions in your head while you are reading and they can be very different from the film.