Monday, June 11, 2007

Books to movies

What's your favorite film that is based on a book? Did you read the book first, or see the movie first? How does that impact your impression of the movie?

It's amazing to me that a book, which takes hours, if not days - possibly weeks - to get through, can be distilled into a 2-hour production that at all resembles the original work. Yet we are so critical of the results.

Some of my favorites off the top of my head - ones where I enjoyed the book/story and the movie version equally - are The Third Man, Because of Winn-Dixie, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, The Thief Lord, Blade Runner, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Holes, The Three Musketeers, Howl's Moving Castle, The Last Unicorn - oh, and of course, the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Wow, the more I think about it, the more I think of. I may have to add some more later!

What about the ones you just hated? The huge disappointments? The one that immediately springs to my mind is The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. I doubt any movie could do that book justice, but that version was just awful. And I didn't much care for Interview with the Vampire, either.

Here is an interesting list of favorite books-to-films. And here is a great website for books, short stories and plays that have been made into movies.


  1. Prisoner of Azkaban was my absolute favorite so far of the HP films. It was done so well. I think they've done a good job with all of them, but that one in particular was just perfect. The Lord of the Rings films were also done very well. Ian McKellen as Gandalf was perfect. They couldn't have picked a better actor for that role. I still haven't seen Howl's Moving Castle and I LOVE Miyazaki...I'll see it one of these days.

    I actually liked Hicthhiker's Guide and IWTV, though I agree that they weren't a great translation of the novels. I just seperated them from the books and watched them as movies...which can be hard to do.

    Tough question though. I'll have to think on this one to come up with some more of my own. Great topic!

  2. Thanks, Chris! I think that it is hard to separate movies from books that way, and I had read those two books so many times that there was really no possible way either of them could have honestly competed with the movies in my imagination!

    If you like Miyazaki movies, you'll enjoy Howl's Moving Castle. The book's great, too.

  3. I don't watch movies based on books much, but I can say that Lord of The Rings are great enough to be enjoyed. I love both of books and movies.

    Actually I considered The Da Vinci Code, but then again, I think I like the book more than the movie.

    Anyway, nice to meet you!

  4. Of course LOTR was awesome. Some other favorites of mine include The Andromeda Strain, The Last Picture Show, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and The Haunting. Although I didn't read the books, The Princess Bride and The Right Stuff are two of my all-time favorite films. When I think of books-to-films that disappointed me, the first that springs to mind is Practical Magic. What a gorgeous book, and what a wretched translation to film. (Curse that Sandra Bullock!)

  5. Oops, I meant to specify the 1978 version of Body Snatchers as my favorite. That movie rocks and (IMO) surpasses the original B&W version.

  6. reri - thanks for stopping by! I think I'm the only person on the planet who hasn't read The Da Vinci Code (or seen the movie). It's on my list, but I just haven't gotten to it. I guess I just heard too much about it and need to let some time go by.

    devinoni - yes, definitely The Princess Bride - the book and movie equally, for me. Oh - and what about The Haunting of Hill House and The Haunting (the first one, of course!).

    Maybe I should read Practical Magic - the movie wasn't my favorite, but I'd be willing to give the book a try.

  7. Oops! I made another boo-boo - I should have specified in my comment that I meant the ORIGINAL B&W Haunting, not the hideous remake from a few years ago. And yes, Practical Magic is a WONDERFUL book - one of my all-time favorites.

  8. Oh, I didn't even notice The Haunting in your last post - I was too busy kicking myself for not thinking of The Princess Bride. (Of course you wouldn't have meant that awful remake, anyway!)

  9. I liked, "To Kill a Mockingbird" Gregory Peck WAS Atticus Finch.
    I also adored the A&E version of Pride & Prejudice. However I abhored the P&P version with Keira Knightly.

    I never read "Vanity Fair" but my mother said the movie was not anything like the book (we went to see the movie together).

  10. Oh, I loved To Kill a Mockingbird, too. It's funny how, when a film grabs hold of your imagination, the actors who play the characters become part and parcel of the images in your mind when you read the book. I can't read Harry Potter books now without imagining the actors as the characters.

    And I just thought of another film I hated, compared to the book - Shining Through by Susan Isaacs. The character she ends up with at the end of the book - the romantic lead! - isn't even IN the movie version!


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