Books Vs. Movie adaptations

Discussion in 'Art & Culture' started by Plazma Inferno!, Dec 17, 2015.

  1. Plazma Inferno! Ding Ding Ding Ding Administrator

    Do you prefer books over movie adaptations? Which movies you find better than the books they were based upon?
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  3. zgmc Registered Senior Member

    I did enjoy the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit movies. They were really well done, but lots of stuff was left out.

    Contact made for a great movie, but the book was better.

    I can't think of a movie that was better than the book..
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  5. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    Yes. It's difficult to think of any movie that I thought was better than the book.

    I agree with zgmc that the Lord of the Rings moves were very good. But even there, I enjoyed Tolkien's books more.
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  7. sideshowbob Sorry, wrong number. Valued Senior Member

    I wish they'd leave Tom Bombadil in. The Fellowship of the Ring was always my favorite volume. I wish they'd have more of it and less of Frodo whining his way through Mordor.

    The Godfather. I saw the movie first. When I read the book I concluded that they left all the boring parts out when they made the movie.

    Then they put all the boring parts together to make Part 2. (Disclaimer: Robert DeNiro was excellent as the young Vito Corleone. Al Pacino's scenes, though well-acted, were dreadful.)
  8. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    They're different mediums, of course, so cater to different things. Books are much more able to provide nuance, detail, subtlety, inner thoughts etc than can be achieved in film. The scope of a book is also more likely to be greater while films are generally there to get the overriding points of the film across rather than anything else.
    But generally I prefer the book, but appreciate the film for what it offers in two hours or so that two hours of reading wouldn't achieve.
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  9. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Badly written books with decent plots can make much better movies - "Jaws" was not a great movie, but it was better than the book. "The Bourne Identity" is another - because Robert Ludlum is a miserable writer, and the movie was well made.

    If the book is really good, the movie has little chance - even so, it's puzzling how very badly wrong most movies are, how blatant the betrayals, and often without visible bad motive. Making Frodo (the "best hobbit in the Shire" ) into a wet-eyed wimp was bad enough. Making the very capable and athletic and hardhanded and ropewise Samwise into a pudgy stumbler with no gear and no virtue but dogged loyalty was bad enough. Leaving out Bombadil - the embodiment of immunity to the Ring, central to the meaning of its power - was worse. Rewriting Faramir's decision and thereby trivializing the role of men in the story was unforgivable. But what made the trilogy a travesty was the focus on long, long fighting scenes and the omission of the Cleansing of the Shire. Tolkien deliberately minimized combat in favor of extended aftermaths, and claimed to have written the entire thousand page account in order to write the Cleansing of the Shire as its closing chapters. Missing the entire point of the book, that is. After all that work.

    And that from a director obviously fond of the books, clearly well and honestly motivated.

    In the same vein, most of the adaptations of Philip K Dick stories - and there have been several, good and bad - omit, of all things, the author's original focus or theme. In the original story behind Bladerunner, for example, the importance of the empathetic and sympathetic bonds between humans and animals or other beings, the psychological or even spiritual magnitude of the loss if we lose them, is the matrix, the Big Theme - all but invisible in the movie, chase scenes and fight scenes instead. And we see in "A Clockwork Orange" the eventual maturity of the main character, his having grown up, his transformation into an adult, the central or major theme of the story, simply omitted - the transient ultravi0lence elaborated at length but to little purpose, the adult reflection omitted, the last chapters simply dropped.

    Then we have stuff like the inveterate inexplicability of unnecessarily rewritten dialogue in Jane Austen movies - even for scenes shot as they were set up in the book, not otherwise altered. Note to the next guy: you probably don't have anyone on your payroll who writes better dialogue than Jane Austen's. Also, she wrote for a readership who commonly read out loud, performing the book as they would a play. It's all set for you. You don't have to change much in there. Dude.

    Likewise Dickens. Afaik there is only one movie version of A Christmas Carol that presents the key speech by Marley's Ghost, the pivot of the story, as Dickens wrote it. It's just a couple of sentences. There are no anachronisms in it, or anything confusing to a modern ear. And after omitting that mere few seconds of brief, resonant, deep, effective, and telling, dialogue, upon which the story turns, they pad the conversation with what sound like the extended "screenwriting" attempts of somebody's nephew. They weren't editing, cutting, for pace or runtime: they were just changing things for no apparent reason.

    Something happens in the huge committee process of manufacturing movies, and it's not good for duplicating books in film.

    As a clue, take the strange thing that happens with stories like A River Runs Through It, where most of the movie consists of scenes and accounts not in the author's story at all. The point is, that one almost works (and only flops because somebody - the actor, the director - got the Presbyterian minister father badly wrong) - and therein may lie a clue. The better movies based on books or written stories (Bourne Identity, The Drop, Minority Report) often seem to have been rewritten from the bottom up, expanded and parallel rather than duplicate constructions.

    There are translators of poetry who regard their work as writing new poems guided or inspired by the original. It's the only way, they claim, to be fair to the original. Filming a book may be best done like that, as well. Film a book and it sucks. Write a film guided or inspired by the book, or more likely half the book, and it has a chance.
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2015
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  10. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    Not a film, but I'll mention it anyway.

    I think the Game of Thrones TV adaptation of George R. R. Martin's books is a good adaptation. Of course, the author has been directly involved in the adaptation at various points, and so has had a chance to re-think certain parts of the story, often to clarify them.

    Even an adaptation that has this much screen time to play inevitably has to make some sacrifices, but in some ways there are opportunities to add to what's in the novels.

    The experience of reading a book is always different to watching a film or a TV show. The written medium relies on the reader's own imagination to fill in the gaps. Visual media are a different kind of beast, with their own strengths and limitations.
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  11. Ophiolite Valued Senior Member

    The special effects are always much better in books.

    That said, To Kill A Mockingbird is outstanding in both formats.
  12. Dywyddyr Penguinaciously duckalicious. Valued Senior Member

    Goodbye, Mr. Chips.
    The film was a "staple" of my childhood (wet Sunday afternoons and a B&W TV).
    I came across the book decades later and found it tedious in the extreme.
  13. zgmc Registered Senior Member

    Phillip K Dick was mentioned earlier. I just watched "Imposter" on Netflix. I thought it was pretty good. I have not read the story it was based on, and an wondering if anyone has both watched the movie and read the short story? I am going to see if I can find it online.
  14. Dywyddyr Penguinaciously duckalicious. Valued Senior Member

    I read Imposter sometime in the back in the 70s and saw the video about 10 years ago.
    So far as I could (and can) remember for that one they just about filmed the story (as opposed to just one of the plots of Do Androids... becoming Bladerunner or We Can Remember... which was essentially a shaggy dog story becoming Total Recall).
    Screamers was also close enough to Second Variety for me to have to keep my mouth shut during the film so as not to give away spoilers.
  15. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

    I like both. Some books make excellent transitions and some screenwriters are true to the original.
    Raymond Chandler dialogue can't be improved upon, since he was a first-rate screenwriter, but his descriptions and asides are sorely missed from the cinematic version. Le Carre adaptations have generally been very good, partly because they left the dialogue alone.
    Heinlein should be better on film, since he wasted so much paper, and yet 'Dune' was a travesty.
    E.R. Burroughs looks better on film than the page, but most directors try to make Verne's science fiction novels more exciting and less cerebral than they were meant to be and end up with neither. (I did like Around the World in 80 Days, because it's fun). Sherlock Holmes has had a checkered movie career; on the whole, Conan Doyle's England is very cinematic and Jane Austen's is always pretty. Dickens tends to feel drab and dated, no matter which story or who's in it - yes, even the nth superbly-scored version of Scrooge. Almost any film adaptation of an Agatha Christie novel is better than the original... Okay, that's not hard, but I wish the adapters were less reverent and fixed her more glaring inconsistencies.
    Being mass entertainment in both formats, science fiction, adventure and mystery generally do better than serious literature. And yet.... 'Grapes of Wrath' was memorable. I wish I could remember some others that impressed me, but the old brain-cells are dropping like autumn flies.
  16. Dywyddyr Penguinaciously duckalicious. Valued Senior Member

    Uh, what?
    The two parts of that sentence don't go together.
    Heinlein's films: Starship Troopers, Predestination, The Puppet Masters, Destination Moon, The Brain Eaters. (And tribbles in the Star Trek TV series).
    Dune was Frank Herbert (the TV mini series being vastly better than the film).
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  17. zgmc Registered Senior Member

    Predestination. Just looked it up, I'm going to have to watch that. Based on the short story, "all you zombies".
  18. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

    Told you the brain cells were dying!
  19. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Elmore Leonard's stories have done ok on screen - maybe because, like Cormac McCarthy's or Dennis Lehane's, their author had a certain orneriness and pragmatism not only in his writing but in his dealings with movie people.

    I've heard somebody is going to shoot "Far Tortuga". My money is on "well, that was too bad". But you can't blame them for trying.

    Thing is: it's a short read of a novel, it's visual or physical (no internal monologuing, no philosophical exposition, no literary digressions), and it's carried almost entirely by brief and spare snapshots of spectacular scenery around dialogue - people talk about it as written "like a screenplay". So one would think it a slam unto a movie screen - how could anyone screw this up? But anyone who has watched a book they were fond of made into a movie, and is fond of this book, is going to have a sinking feeling at the prospect.
  20. river

    The book; The Martian ; was far better than the movie.
  21. pjdude1219 The biscuit has risen Valued Senior Member

    also had an actor who had met the author.
    and the lord of the rings movies are responsible for perhaps the most badass response an actor has ever given to a director
    Peter Jackson: Imagine the sound of someone getting stabbed in the back.
    Christopher Lee: I don't have to.

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