Movies Adapted from Books - Love or Hate?

United States
January 11, 2007 7:12pm CST
This discussion sort of took over another one regarding Harry Potter (http://www.mylot.com/w/discussions/583024.aspx) so we are stepping out on our own to delve more in depth! Lately, many of the most popular Hollywood movies have been adapted from books. Some might say are better than the books, some worse. I have differing opinions depending on which combination we're speaking of but below are a few of mine. Pet Peeve - I cannot stand when something that is crucial in a book is changed or omitted from the movie version, drives me up a wall! Harry Potter (Definitely the books win - see the other thread as we got into it there!) Devil Wears Prada (I'm currently in the middle of this book, and so far the movie is definitely winning.) LOTR (I think equal but different) Narnia (The books for detail, but they stayed fairly true to the story which I appreciated) Then we have books made from movies, which I in general cannot stand! Star Wars books come to mind, just cannot get into them at all. Any takers?
13 people like this
82 responses
• Philippines
12 Jan 07
It depends on how they made the movie. Like Lord of the rings, I hate it because they cut some of the scenes from the book. I agree that Harry Potter is better on books.
• United States
12 Jan 07
I like LOTR, I think they are great if you step back and look at them as Stand-Alone Movies, not based on a book. The books were much more in-depth and had a lot of story that they just couldn't cover in the movies. Let's face it, they already did over 9 hours of movie, it's impossible to do justice to these books in that amount of time. Plus, Hollywood is always thinking of the bottom line, what sells, and while the name of a movie can draw in big money, they are more worried about keeping the length down and the entertainment up than they are with staying true to the storyline. I don't mind it in general as long as they don't lose site of what the book was meant to be, but if they change the book, watch out, that's when I hit my soap box.
1 person likes this
• Philippines
12 Jan 07
It's the same as comic books turn movies. Like in spiderman, its totally different from the original right. They should respect the story.
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@seenoreen (559)
• Philippines
12 Jan 07
I don't necessarily hate them but its annoying not to see a crucial scene in the movie. I suggest that you watch the movie first before reading the book, at least you're not expecting anything from the book. That's what happened when I watched A Walk to Remember First. I watched the movie and loved it then I read the book and I loved it even more.
• United States
12 Jan 07
That only works if you hadn't read the book before you heard there was going to be a movie :) I have learned I shouldn't reread books right before going to movies, but it's so hard because I love to read and when the movie comes out, the first thing I think is "I loved that book, I should reread it." So I do. And it's a vicious cycle. I have not however read A Walk To Remember or Seen the movie so maybe I will try it with those, thanks for sharing!
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@Shaun72 (15964)
• Palatka, Florida
12 Jan 07
i agree about Harry Potter espically the last movie the book was so much better. The movie took alot out so if you haven't read the book you don't know the whole story. Now Chronicals of naria was both pretty good the book and the movie.
3 people like this
• United States
12 Jan 07
Have you read the entire "Chronicle's" Series? They are really good, some even better than the first. I feel sorry for the people who don't read the books and see movies like HP or Da Vinci Code, they miss out on so many things.
1 person likes this
@Angelwriter (1955)
• United States
12 Jan 07
I also don't like when something crucial to the book is left out or changed in the movie. The movie version of Ella Enchanted is nothing like the book. And, what I hate is that the book isn't really a classic, so they won't make another one to capture the book in the real way. I think the film The Princess Bride was a good adaptation of the book. Of course, the same author worked on both. There were a few changes, but they made sense. The biggest change I recall was that they gave one character lines that another character they cut from the film had. But, that character wasn't really essential. The most recent version of Little Women was faithful to the spirit of the book. And, it actually cast a child as Amy for the first half, which made sense. Another movie I felt did a diservice to the book was Shining Through. The book is a combination of romance and gripping war book, but the movie was a pale shadow of that.
@emeraldisle (13139)
• United States
12 Jan 07
Did you see the remake they did of the Shining, with Steven Weber and Rebecca DeMorney? That was much better and closer to the book then the original movie was.
2 people like this
• United States
12 Jan 07
I think I'm glad I haven't seen the Ella Enchanted movie, then. I LOVE the book. And I didn't really like what I was seeing in the trailers--so I'll probably never watch it. I like the way I picture Ella, and the actress they have does NOT fit. The Princess Bride was really good, stayed quite true to the story (at least the abridged version, which is about all you can actually find). That's probably the one case where I've seen the movie before reading the book and not been disappointed in either. No, wait, one of two. I saw the old animated version of The Hobbit a good half a year or more before I managed to get hold of the book to read, and I still think they're both good (though the book is better hands-down). Haven't seen the latest version of Little Women, but I loved that book growing up. I first picked it up in 3rd grade because it was the longest book on the shelf, and then I re-read it every year until I got to junior high.
3 people like this
• United States
12 Jan 07
Thank you all, great comments :) I loved the Princess Bride but never read the book, would you say it's worth reading after you've seen the movie? I've never read nor seen Ella Enchanted, which would you recommend doing first? Thanks!
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@mom_of_3 (22)
• Japan
12 Jan 07
books of movies never seem to do well as you cant help but imagine the scene from the movie. however i do like some movies that came from books like Narnia tho i think it fell a bit short and i think stephen king books are GREAT but have een dissappointed by every stephen king movie!
2 people like this
• United States
12 Jan 07
Me too! Stephen King is hard to put on screen though.
@James72 (26829)
• Australia
12 Jan 07
I think that in some cases it all comes down to what is the most recent for you. I always find that if I see the movie first, I will always compare the book to the movie and the movie generally wins out as being better and vice versa. The thing is, they are so disparately different, books and movies, how can you truly compare? Sure a movie may stay true to a story but if you have read the book first and THEN seen the movie are your expectations really met? One involves the imagination and the other involves true visuals. Lord of the Rings was loved by kids when I was in school in the 80's and way before that! In the minds of those who grew up loving the book, they no doubt loved the movie also but more than the books?? I doubt it. Because it has a special place in their memory I guess. I have never read Harry Potter so am not a good judge there; but enjoyed the movies! But for me in most cases, the book will win hands down. It is not as easy to describe all you see at a movie in words. And you have the opportunity to use your imagination to turn those words into your own private movie!
2 people like this
• United States
12 Jan 07
Point to Ponder - the more visual of an imagination you have, does it make it harder to enjoy the movie? For example, I know that I tend to visualize novels in my head as I read them but my friends don't, so are the movie from book adaptations that much harder for me than them?
@zeloguy (4913)
• United States
12 Jan 07
The reason the books always win is... time. How long does it take to read a good novel? And how long is the average movie? It is up to the producers and directors of film to take the greatest advantages of the books and then interpret them for us (which doesn't always jive) and then try to squeeze a ten hour film into two hours. Three good examples of this that I can think of right of the top of my head are all the Harry Potter books, just about every Stephen King novel (Christine being an exception), and a movie that came out not long ago... The DaVinci Code. Exceptions to this rule (if you wish to call it that) are books by Tom Clancy and John Grisham. Danielle Steele for the ladies would probably be on the exceptions list as well.
• United States
12 Jan 07
Watch it with the ladies comment, I happen to like Tom Clancy and John Grisham :) Time is certainly a factor. It only takes me about 3 hours to read a novel but I can read a conversation a lot faster than someone could speak it, so I see your point. However, if they don't hold true to the core values and intent of the book, why? What is the reasoning for this? Stephen King cannot be done justice on screen as the suspense and fear created in his books is much more intense in our imaginations than it can be on screen. By putting a "face" on things, it takes away the mysteriousness and ultimately loses its intensity. Grisham adapts well to screen. Usually. They went too far with the firm and added about 1/2 hour of screen time that just ruined the movie.
1 person likes this
• Ireland
12 Jan 07
My main problem is this- Books are written by (usually) independent authors who have full creative control over the content (or perhaps shared with an editor/editors). This is a good thing, it promotes an atmosphere in which an author explores their creation in a creative manner (I wont go into pulp unless it is brought up by someone else) In the film industry, it is quite different, creative control is shared by many different people (although small independent films are usually an exception) many of these are simply money-people who couldn't care less if it gets any critical praise as long as it is profitable. Is this a good thing? Well it ensures that the majority will be happy with their brainless action flicks and that's fine, I just wont watch them, but when they start messing with the story of a book I love just to make it more profitable and mainstream as a movie, thats when i get peeved. Obviously with living authors, if they want to sell their integrity, that's up to them- but to take the case of Tolkien, he was strongly against the idea of any kind of adaptation of his work. Now people will counter that by saying that the technology of his time would not have done justice to the books, but in my opinion that's just technophilia nothing else, the craving for more and more cgi, bigger battle-scenes etc. Could the books have been made into better films? I believe so yes. Would they have done so well at the box office if so? That I doubt. I have rarely seen a good film-adaptation, that's not to say they don't exist, they're just not the norm. Actually something I read in theonion AV club brings it home, they were of the opinion that the best film adaptations were of books that were poorly received in a critical sense, books such as The Godfather series, Jaws, The Silence of the Lambs books. Now I haven't read any of these and I don't particularly want to but it does make you think, great books like 1984, A Clockwork Orange and the countless others that have been adapted generate an enigma and bring a huge weight of expectation with them- Is it not inevitable that any kind of adaptation will ultimately be a disappointment to those who have read the book before seeing the movie?
• United States
12 Jan 07
I wasn't even aware they had adapted 1984. I think I will avoid that like the plague, it just cannot be done justice on screen. While Tolkien may not have approved, his family did, they signed the rights over, now it can be argued that they did it for the money no doubt. I am going to disagree with you on whether they could have improved those movies (surprise surprise!). I don't think they could have. If they had tried to do anything more than they did, they would have lost the cohesion that the films currently possess. They would have wound up messing them up. As it stands, the story holds, it's just missing a lot. I had not ever seen a movie I liked better than a book until now. I am reading the Devil Wears Prada right now, and so far it's not holding me up, if I hadn't seen the movie, I would have already given up on the storyline. Certainly we're not talking world class literature here but I would have expected more based on what I saw on screen. Worst adaptation ever - did you watch Romeo & Juliet with Leonardo DiCaprio. Painful. I haven't read The Godfather, Jaws, etc. so I will abstain from saying anything about them at all, but at this point I'd agree with you, I think if I did read them I would be disappointed in the books perhaps, simply because they have become movie icons. Perhaps it's that whichever develops into the stronger image in your mind first is the one you will prefer? As far as you're last statement: I agree with You (Again - that's twice now!) ultimately, any movie from a book that you enjoy has quite a ways to go to be impressive and imo is in most cases doomed to fail.
2 people like this
@korek222 (701)
• Poland
12 Jan 07
I must say i enjoy watching movies adopted from books. Some of them are equally good as books , some are worse and some are even much better! i loved Lord of the Rings movie and Harry Potter cause they were eqally good as books. Although i hate some not world-wide known books from my country which were filmed and turned out to be a crappy film with no book charm in it! But i think that some movies are literally better then books - for example comic books almost always turn out to be even better than drawed versions.
2 people like this
@lilmissy (481)
• United States
12 Jan 07
iloved the lord of the rings movies i think they were even better than the books especially the 2nd movie had to be the best ! also the last samurai as i live in japan and have so often seen japan distorted in movies such as kill bill ,i was happily surprised to see such a incrediably correct and beautiful movie made by foriegners of japan. but usually the books are better except in a few rare occasions when hollywood puts enough money and talent into the project
2 people like this
@mikaghi (388)
• United States
12 Jan 07
i hate it coz the movie is never as good as the book. just take da vinci code for example..the movie was a disaster compared to the book.
2 people like this
@emeraldisle (13139)
• United States
12 Jan 07
I will agree usually the movie is not as good as the book. However there are exceptions. Many movies are based off books even if we don't realize it. Now Delores Claiborne I enjoyed the movie far more then the book, the same as The Two Worlds of Jeannie Logan (different authors). Those are just two that I can think of off hand. Others I've seen have been just as good as the books. The Da Vinci Code was a great adaptation. What was left out from the book I could understand, the same as the changes at the end. It made sense for a movie but not neccessarily for a book. Sometimes you have to take into consideration the medium with which it is in. The first 3 Harry Potter movies I thought they did a very good job on. This last one so much was left out that they could do a Harry Potter 4 part 2 just to cover that stuff. I know they were limited by time but still they left a lot out that was important especially for later on. I've read a few books that were inspired by movies or tv shows. Some of them were quite good and it was obvious who ever did them really did do their research. Most of these were Star Trek and Buffy/Angel books. I didn't get into the star war ones I'm afraid but I picked up the others now and then and enjoyed them.
2 people like this
@Pigglies (9335)
• United States
12 Jan 07
A lot of times I really like the movie a whole lot more than the book. Mostly because I'm not the greatest reader and have a hard time understanding the book. But even giving the books a fair chance... like when I read Chronicles of Narnia on audio. The movie was so much better! The only book I can really think of that I would say was a lot better than the movie, was Running with Scissors. The movie was still good, but the book just had so much more.
2 people like this
• United States
12 Jan 07
In my opinion, if you're going to make a series that is popular, you should stay true to the book...I think in Harry Potter they're kind of going out on a limb...I think that ever since Chris Columbus left, they're making Hermione too much of a drama queen and too much of a...s*xual appeal. But that's just me. I'm already annoyed with the 5th book because Daniel Radcliffe's hair is way too short for a Harry Potter. I may be a little bit picky ;) But Harry is supposed to have a lot of hair, and...yeah. lol. Da Vinci Code, I loved. I thought it remained pretty true to the book. I was a little bit skeptical about them casting Tom Hanks as Robert Langdon...he's supposed to be physically fit and stuff...I was imagining someone like George Clooney playing him. But I think Tom Hanks pulled it off tremendously! I read Devil Wears Prada, and I just stopped reading. I felt like it was just so blah..nothing was happening.
1 person likes this
• United States
12 Jan 07
I want to stop reading it, but I am incapable of not finishing a book or movie no matter how bad it is. For example, I had Derailed figured out less than halfway through the movie so the rest was just torture but I had to watch it anyway.
• United States
13 Jan 07
Oh, and also, have you ever read the book The Life of Pi? I heard that they were going to be making that into a movie. I'm not sure if I'm going to see that, as 1) The book is very good and 2) It's QUITE gory.
1 person likes this
• United States
16 Jan 07
No, I haven't but i'll add it to the list I need to check out!
• United States
12 Jan 07
I guess I am confused. You say that lately many of the most popular hollywood movies were adapated from books... That has always been the case. I would imagine that only a small percentage of the movies that make it to the theaters started out as a screen play and where not adaptations of books. Lately there have been a few adaptations from tv shows, but most the stuff you see (including those classics) where books before movies. Even movies that end up inspiring books (like Star Wars) are often bits and pieces of a number of other books (or movies based off books). Star Wars has a number of similarities with LOTR, Kurosawa flicks, sci-fi comics, etc... BTW, which LOTR books are you referring to? The originals or the ones that are based off of the movies... The older cartoon movies seemed to stick to the books a little better than the new live action flicks. Oh, and not to hijack this conversation, but did you see the news that The Hobbit movie most likely won't be made because Peter Jackson and New Line are fighting over $$$.
1 person likes this
• Ireland
12 Jan 07
Perhaps it's a good thing that Peter Jackson doesn't make The Hobbit, It would probably end up like a cross between that awful Dungeons and Dragons film and a HP movie
2 people like this
• United States
12 Jan 07
Movies have always been based on books yes, but lately it seems that we're seeing a deluge of them with nothing else to offer besides. Plus recently, they have all been hugely well known novels rather than just books that someone read and turned to a movie but that wasn't really that well known. LOTR - Tolkien's version of course :) Books made after movies are bad enough but when you have books that were made into movies that are then made into more books - UGH, they are never true to the original author's intent and I can't stand them!
1 person likes this
• United States
14 Jan 07
debbie4824: It makes sense to make a movie based off a well known novel if you can get the rights to do so. You already have a built in audience. In the case of Harry Potter, the Devil Wears Prada, The Da Vinci Code, John Grisham stuff, or that other new fantasy movie (I have no clue what it's called), you have a recently released novel that sees success which helps I think more in the sense of marketing than dealing with a classic. Taking a lesser known book doesn't have the same marketing appeal because you don't already have a large built in fan base. Bartolin1980: And wow was that Dungeons and Dragons movie terrible!
1 person likes this
@sunnypub (2129)
• United States
12 Jan 07
I agree that many movies fail to live up to the book. I do think that a lot depends on if you read the book first or not. I remember seeing Time Machine and I thought it was a pretty good movie. I enjoyed watching it. Then recently I read the book and thought it was great. It had been years since Ihad seen the movie so i thought I would watch it again. Guess what....the movie just plain sucked. they left out so much and rushed through the story. I was so disapointed. Then there is Girl Interrupted. I think the movie is terrific and I think the adaptation was wonderful. I prefer to watch that movie than read the book. Also Ella Enchanted. I absolutely Love the movie. I have watched it a bunch of times. I finally read the book and I was disapointed in the book. The characters were totally different and there was so much changed. If I had read the book first I might think differently but I saw and fell in love with the movie first. I haven't read the book 'The Davinci Code' but I have read 'Angels and Devils' which is the prequel and that was an awesome book. Because of reading that book before I saw the movie, I think that they probably left out alot in the movie, I will read the book soon. Ultimately it comes down to timing, they don't want to make a movie too long. I also think that a lot depends on who is rewriting the scritp and how they interpret the book. Sometimes what I think is important, isn't the same thing that others think is important.
1 person likes this
• United States
12 Jan 07
You have an excellent point about the script writer. If they interpret the book differently than some, thinking something a small and trivial point when in fact it could be crucial to others thinkings, the movie is going to pale in comparison. They ultimately have a great responsibilty to uphold the credibility of the book.
• United States
12 Jan 07
I read the Da Vinci Code months before I watched the movie and the movie was so jammed pack. You couldn't get up and do anything or you'd miss something. I enjoyed the book so much more.
1 person likes this
• United States
13 Jan 07
:\ I was reading your post and agreeing with you up until the Ella Enchanted part...the book really came first before the movie...so I dunno. I don't think you should be disappointed in the book since that's what was first. ... I'm being a loser by bashing your opinion, I'm so sorry. Ooh, and Angels and Demons was a great book. I loved Angels and Demons...in my opinion, I think that the Catholic church should have made a bigger deal in Angels and Demons, than they did with Da Vinci Code. Although, the one thing I didn't like about Angels and Demons was that it was really predictable. Da Vinci Code, I thought the movie was great. I mean...once you think about it, the book is pretty long...if you put every scene, every part of the book into the movie, it'd be 9 hours long at least. I thought the movie stayed quite fair to the book, especially because Dan Brown helped with the movie as well.
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@sharone74 (4838)
• United States
12 Jan 07
I love Stephen King novels. Despise just about every one of them that has been converted to movie other than: Carrie, Cujo, The shining, and Pet Cemetary which kind of sucked but not quite. The sisterhood of the traveling pants series of books I adore and the Movie Version of book two was a great flick! Old school- Alien was a great book as was Aliens but the movies were even better! Dune by Frank Herbert great book good movie There are tons of others but bottom line for me. I prefer the book to the movie in just about all cases I don't watch TV rarely go to the movies but I am a rabid reader.
• Japan
12 Jan 07
exactly like i said the stephen king novels were great but the movies all kinda sucked except maybe shining scared the crap out of me when i was younger but the acting wasent that good. and you are right i forgot about Dune !!! i loved the books and the movies even but i felt something was missing in the movie (loved sting in it ) and truely the ALIEN Movies were GREAT!
2 people like this
• United States
12 Jan 07
Aliens!! WOO HOO! I love Michael Biehn. I have refused to watch the third movie simply because he was supposed to be in it and Ms. Weaver refused to do the movie unless both the kid and Hicks were killed off, she thought it would take too much away from her part. It $@$ me, so I haven't watched the third one.
• United States
12 Jan 07
There are two instances in my opinion and experience where I thought the movie was better than the book, one is the English Patient,the book was truly hard to muddle through, although the English prose at times was beautiful, but I had a hard time connecting all the imagery to the story. The other one is Ironwood, the book itself left me wanting to know more about the two main characters, I felt left out of their lives in a sense. Merle Streep and Jack Nickelson gave such outstanding performances that I got a chance to understand them. I have seen many movies that have inspired me to go and buy the book, Divine secrets of the Ya ya's, Cold Mountain, Terms of endearment, which is hardly recognizable to the movie. I still love the movie, but the book was better. The one movie I found to be the greatest disappointment for me was Interview with a Vampire. I am a great Anne Rice fan, and they just butchered the first book of her chronicle's.
1 person likes this
• United States
12 Jan 07
Another series was V.C. Andrews Flowers in the Attic....crips that movie was a joke!!!!
1 person likes this
• United States
12 Jan 07
You know, until you'd mentioned it, I'd forgotten about Interview. That's a great one that no one had brought up yet!
• United States
12 Jan 07
Most of the movies I've seen that are based on books are decent, but NOTHING on the book. I've seen the Harry Potter movies (at least, up through the third) and the books were so much better (though in truth I think the series is dying fast). As for LOTR...I LOVED the books. I got SO annoyed when Bombadil wasn't even in the movie at all! (He was my favorite side character!) I remember getting rather frustrated with the first movie, because they skipped/changed too much stuff. No Bombadil, no any of the Old Forest (Ok, so they couldn't really do the Barrow Downs), they messed up the Party and the stuff at the Prancing Pony where they first meet Strider...no Trolls (that scene was FUNNY!). And what happened to Farmer Cotton? Oh, and then in the third movie, Eowyn got jipped, and they skipped the whole story with Sharky and such back in the Shire. I guess it's hit-or-miss, in general. And books rock.
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• Ireland
12 Jan 07
Thing is Tolkien himself admitted that Tom Bombadil was a character he struggled to insert into the book and the passage in question can be taken as a digression. I do agree with you though, he was also a favourite peripheral character for me. Umm the Sharky incident, for this one I think that Tolkien himself should have shown more restraint and ended the book earlier, but he wanted to show how much the Hobbits had grown, they had no need of Gandalf, Aragorn etc. to fight their wars for them. The other bits you mentioned, I don't think they were strictly essential (plot-moving)to the story and so it is much easier to simply cut out a less important scene than to abridge a crucial one. What this points to is my opinion that they should have just left it alone, I don't believe it is possible to do it justice within the constraints of a Hollywood film
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• United States
12 Jan 07
I'll agree with both of you on most of those points. I've said this somewhere else too but it bears repeating. If you compare the LOTR movies to the books, they do not stand up, but it'd be almost impossible to do them justice. With the time constraints and budget constraints they had, they did a phenomenol job. Basically you need to forget everything you read and watch them just as movies on their own, then they can be very enjoyable. Thanks for posting!
@Kris_ND (50)
• United States
13 Jan 07
When I go to a movie based on a book I've read, I go with an open mind......as if I've never read the book. YOU KNOW IT'S going to be different! The magic of books is how much they let your mind and imagination build the look of the characters, the place where the story takes place, etc. There is no way a movie can match that! In fact, as the uproar was coming with the Charlottes Web movie...building up to it's release. My daughter wanted to go to the movie. I required that she read the book first, so she could experience the magic her imagination would put together in her mind, before the way Hollywood perceives it. She enjoyed the book more than the movie, which is of course the way it usually goes! Kris
• United States
16 Jan 07
Kudos to you for making her read it! I think that's one of the best things that can happen when a movie is made from a book is to get people to read more, especially kids!