F: Films Vs Books #AToZChallenge


Over the years, a lot of films have been made based on books. While deciding to write on this topic, I just did a google search and the results I got was plenty and overwhelming. That's when I decided to just talk about the books I've read and the films I've watched. Obviously like everyone else, I'm a sucker for books and I scrutinize the movie frame by frame to find faults in it, if any. See, when you have loved a book so much it is hard to accept the fact that someone else was making a movie out of it. You never know what they will do to the original story. Also, when you read characters you form a perception of how they look in your mind. When it is made into a movie you never know who gets to play those characters. Sometimes just the casting is enough to ruin the memory of a book for you. I also hate it when books are printed with their movie covers as the front page. I never buy such books and always go hunting for the original. I'm sorry, but I always like my books in the original format and that way the characters are always better in my mind.

While most of the movies that are book adaptations have been disappointments, there have been some movies that have done total justice to the book. In some cases, I also found that the movies were better than the book. I'll start with the good ones first. Please note that I have not read all the books in the world and have not seen all the movies, so the opinions below are just based on my reach of the books and movies.

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When it comes to movies doing justice to the book, the first book that comes to my mind is my all time favorite book, Mario Puzo's 'The Godfather'. I read this book 10-12 years ago and was totally blown away. Don Corleone is one of the best literary characters in history and he owned each and every scene in the book. The writing was flawless and the impact huge. The first time I ever cried while reading a book was when the Godfather dies (If this is a spoiler alert, I'm sorry). As soon as I was finished with the book, I watched the movie. I cried at the exact same scene again. Marlon Brando was the perfect Godfather there could be. His baritone, his mannerisms, brought the character alive from the book. Also, Al Pacino as Micheal was such a treat to the eyes. For me this would always remain the best book to movie adaptation.

The only book or rather story that I have read of Stephen King is 'Rita Hayworth And Shawshank Redemption'. This is one of the four stories in the book 'Different Seasons' and I read just this story. I read the story only after I watched the movie, which also happens to be one of my favorite. The story is concise and brief, but the movie explored every angle of the story and showed it brilliantly. Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman were the perfect cast and did total justice to their literary counterparts. This is a movie that I have watched more than a hundred times and still can watch it any day.

The other movie that did total justice to the book was the Hannibal series, by Thomas Harris. I remember shuddering after I finished 'The Silence Of The Lambs' and 'Red Dragon', the books I mean. They were gory and creepy, but the writing was splendid. The creativity and the characters were so well etched that one cannot forget even a single scene in the book. When I watched the movie, I was again blown away. Sir Anthony Hopkins is such a brilliant actor that I can never imagine him as anything else apart from Dr. Hannibal Lecter. His voice still gives me the creeps at times. Ralph Fiennes too did a brilliant job in the Red Dragon. Such movies can be watched again and again.

Now let's come to the movies that I thought failed its book completely. 'The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo', was a brilliantly made movie with Rooney Mara's career best performance but it failed to bring out the actual essence of the book. While the scenes involving Salander was shown well, the actual mystery was terribly watered down. I remember being disturbed for days when I read the book. The movie did not have this effect. 'The Girl On The Train' is another example. While the book drags in the first half and picks up later, the movie just dragged. Emily Blunt was brilliant and so was Justin Theroux, but again the revelation of the mystery wasn't shown well. The voice message, the shock on Anna's face, could be imagined very well in my mind but the way it was shown was very luke warm. Just like all movies adapted from Dan Brown's books. While I love and respect Tom Hanks, the movies were long and tedious and very difficult to understand. The books at least had everything spelt out.

There are some movies that were so much better than the book. The first example that comes to my mind is 'The Devil Wears Prada'. Meryl Steep! Oh, Meryl Streep! I just fell in love with her character. When I read the book, I hated Miranda Priestly and Andrea. I thought Anne Hathway was really good in the movie too. But the book was a dud. After a few pages I just dragged myself through the book, skipping chapters in between. The same thing happened to me with 'Lessons In Forgetting' too. I saw the movie first and loved it! The very reason why I bought the book. Then the book killed me with boredom. The multiple stories and the mixing of first and third person narration troubled me. Maybe it was because I read the books after I had seen the movie, but I hated the books. I'd choose the movie any day.

I have a lot of other adaptations in mind. Twilight, My Sister's Keeper, 3 Idiots, Bricklane, Harry Potter etc, but I'll reserve them for later. The post has gotten long enough already.

Tell me about your favorite book to movie adaptation. Also, the adaption that is your least favorite. Trust me, I'd like to know. If you know any book and its movie that is good, please let me know as well.

17 comments:

  1. Do you remember Da Vinci Code? How much interesting that book was and the movie ruined it for me. If I happen to watch a movie before I read the book, then I am still okay. But never the other way round.

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  2. After a couple of disappointments, I have stopped watching movies if I have read the books and vice versa. However, I liked Two States and Parineeta. :)

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  3. Hi Soumya....
    You have did fantastic job by writing this article.. I was thinking of writing such article for months.. but couldn't found the right words..
    This topic is dillema for every bookworm and moviebuffs like me..
    Godfather is always a Best.. I think many times when writer himself writes the screenplay of movie then it might succeed..
    Girl with dragon tattoo: I think it's Swedish version was good but English version with Daniel Creg as Blomkvist is a flop..
    Some books also converted to successful series like Game of thrones...
    By the way.. very nice writing skills..
    Please do visit my blog and give any feedback..

    vishalwords.blogspot.com

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  4. Movies that worked better for me -
    A Beautiful Mind (book was depressing & filled with unnecessary jargon)
    Princess Diaries (I just love Anne Hatheway!)
    Forrest Gump
    Green Mile (another Stephen King- Darabont collaboration as was The Mist later on)
    The Lord of the Rings series (I got mad reading that book!)

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    1. LOL It is difficult for me as well, LOTR I mean. Reading it requires so much patience!

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  5. For me, most of the movies that have been turned into books have been disappointments! May be I like my books the way I imagine them.

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  6. I Had seen just one scene of Silence of the lambs. I listened to the audio book. It's a very good adaptation. So is Godfather. You are also spot on about The girl with the Dragon tattoo. I had to explain a lot of scenes to my husband who doesn't read books.

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  7. Oohhh! This is the perfect topic for a debate among bibliophiles Vs movie lovers! I loved your explanation for the reasons why we bibliophiles will almost always prefer the book over a movie. And I agree with the book cover point too. Book covers are created with so much thought and effort, and they just cannot be replaced by photos of actors who didn't have any part to play in the creation of the book!

    I didn't like the movie version of Gone Girl. Mainly because, the book had so many twists and turns at the end of every chapter, and that was what made the suspense do nail-biting. The movie felt okayish and 'meh' to me.

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  8. You are spot on about the movies you've mentioned. I've binged on The Godfather series more times than I care to admit. And I love to nitpick the movie vs. the book too! I think Stephen King's Misery was a fabulous movie. (The Four Seasons is one of my favorite books). I haven't seen any of the "Girl..."series but I hear they're good. Hugs, Hottie!

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  9. I don't like movies when I have read the book already. It spoils the fun. I tend to avoid such movies usually. And since I watch movies very less, it is easy to handpick what to watch :D Twilight is one movie I hated completely. The cast did no justice to the characters in the book. Except for the climax of breaking dawn 2, I hate the entire movie series

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  10. Oh Yes, God Father is the best book to movie adaptation. Harry Potter movies are very close to books too though not all is covered in all movies.

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  11. I like Princess Diaries and P.S. I love you. Oh, the Notebook too. Hate Twilight as a movie. I haven't read the books as well :P

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  12. Haven't watched any of those movies. I heard mixed reviews about Girl on the train as well. I was annoyed with Harry Potter and had actually stopped watching after the third movie. Then recently, I watched them on Netflix and must admit, the 6th and 7th ones were well done. Still nowhere near the book. One book to movie adaptation I loved wa sThe Perks of being a Wallflower. Amazing book and beautiful movie!

    Fable - One good turn

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  13. Out of your list, Devil wear Prada is my favourite... apart from Harry Potter movies. I really should watch Godfather, I have heard so much about it and Silence of the lams too.

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  14. I'd written once about movies that are better than the books they've been adapted from. My list also included The Devil Wears Prada. The book was too draggy and such a letdown.
    As for Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, the English version completely lost the essence of the story, and of Lisbeth's character (plus they gave more importance to Blomkvist's character, when the book was actually about Lisbeth). The Swedish version is a tad better from what I hear.

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  15. Inferno was totally ruined by the movie. What a shitty adaptation with a crap end! Arghhh!!!!
    The Notebook shines as a movie too! I loved the book as well! One of my f av by sparks.
    A Walk to Remember was a nice adaptation although not anywhere near to MY FAV BOOK!
    PS I Love You! I loved it so much more as a movie.
    The Girl on Train and Gone Girl were so much better as book. I too agree with you Emily Blunt was the only saving point!
    Not interested in Godfather, both books and movies :p
    Girl with The Dragon Tattoo is a good series (Original Swedish series).
    The Hobbit was better as a book. Peter Jackson stretched the hell out of a single book.
    I haven't read Shawshank Redemption, but I don't think it can be better than the movie.
    The Shining was absolutely terrifying both as a movie and the book. A Poor adaptation though but a great movie.
    The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Lovely book and lovely movie.
    The Fault in Our stars (Hee Haa) Loved the book and the movie!

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