In general, I’m more into books than movies.
Not that I have anything against movies, you understand. I love my Star Wars films as much as the next gal (as long as we’re talking the original three). A good romantic comedy every now and then is good for my soul, and sometimes there is nothing like watching a good knock-down dra- out shoot ’em up-and-beat ’em senseless story on the big screen. I have my favorite movies – Star Wars, Serenity, The Gods Must be Crazy – that I’ll watch repeatedly and never seem to get tired of.
But for the most part, I prefer the books. I like to use my own imagination, read at my own speed, and sort of create my own little world out of what the author has given me to work with. Still, I always go see the movie that’s been made out of one of my favorite books. Even though the Viking looks at me and just shakes his head.
“What?” I say.
“You know you’re going to hate it,” he says.
And he’s right. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy? It’s fun, and I confess to swooning over Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn, but there are just too many details wrong. Things added, things left out, plot points altered, characters where the casting went horribly wrong. I feel the same way about the Harry Potter movies. As for the new Jack Reacher flick – well, I couldn’t bring myself to even go see that one. Tom Cruise as my hero, Jack? No thank you.
But every now and then, a movie actually does it better than the book. I have three films in mind where I believe this to be true.
The first needs no introduction. By now, I think we are all acquainted with that perfect kiss, and a lot of us have probably been heard to mutter, “You killed my father – prepare to die!” Or even, “as you wish,” in a more serious moment.
After seeing the movie for the first time, being a book girl I naturally dug up the book from the library with great eagerness and was surprised to find it dark and somewhat disturbing. The Man in Black bordered on being physically and emotionally abusive to Buttercup and the description of the life sucking machine might have cost me a couple of hours of sleep. Maybe if I had read the book before seeing the movie I might have felt differently, but in this case it’s definitely the movie that has my love.
The second movie I’m thinking of is Holes, by Louis Sachar. This was a good book. It was well written and fun and I have nothing against it. But the movie somehow managed to draw me into a place of wonder and magic where the book didn’t take me. I’ve forgotten most of the details, I just realized, and I’m wanting to watch this movie again. What I do remember is the feeling of absolute delight in a perfect ending when it was over. I sighed that long, happy sigh, the way you do when something resonates in that perfect, heart filling sort of way, and carried that feeling around with me for a couple of days.
Lastt, but certainly not least, is Ordinary People. This truly is one of my favorite movies ever. It’s hard to go wrong with a cast that includes Mary Tyler Moore, Donald Sutherland, Timothy Hutton, and Judd Hirsch, especially when directed by Robert Redford. I saw the movie first and fell in love with it. When I found the book I was thrilled – if the movie was awesome, surely the book would be even better. But no. In this case, once again, the movie had the magic and the book felt flat. If you haven’t seen it, I think you’ll find it to be one of the older films that holds up to the test of time. Here’s the trailer:
So what about you – any movies you love that are better than the books they were based on?
9 Replies to “Deb Kerry Prefers Books to Movies – Most of the Time”
You have a better memory and much more analytical mind than I do. I tend to take things at face value. A book is a book, a movie is a movie and they’re not supposed to be the same. I’ll often say a book was better than a movie (even Twilight, quite frankly) but I can enjoy a movie for what it is. I tend to expect more from books than movies. Maybe that’s why.
The Shawshank Redemption was originally a novella titled Rita Hayworth & the Shawshank Redemption. That is always the first that comes to my mind.
Totally agree on Princess Bride and Holes. Never saw or read the third one. I will have to look into that. I have to say, I stopped on page 2 or 3 of Beautiful Creatures. I finally watched the DVD this weekend. I watched it twice. Still don’t know if I like it or not. I really want to like it. I’m intrigued enough to go back and try the book again. Three of my kids watched with me. They want to read the book too. So we’re going to make it our summer read aloud book. So, I guess the movie has brought us together and might even make us appreciate the book more? I read the Twilights long before I saw the movies. I always felt if I’d seen the movies first, I wouldn’t have liked the stories as much because of some of the casting and lost details. So maybe I’ll really love Beautiful Creatures now that I want to know more?
My other experience in this area is Warm Bodies. I went to see it with my girLovey around Valentine’s Day. She’s a zombie fan. I’m not. I fell TOTALLY in love with R on the screen. Doesn’t hurt I’m a huge John Malkovitch fan, either, lol. I bought the book. I read 2 pages. I got pissed when I read he thinks he was a business type dude in his fomer life state because of his attire. The line about the hoodie indicating he was probably unemployed in the film, is what drew me into the character! Fast forward. Bought the video for my boyLovey for Father’s Day, because of course I’d dragged him to the theatre so I could see it again, and he’d loved it too. We’re watching the commentary and special features with Isaac Marion. THE WRITER!! Now, I’m intrigued enough to pick up the book again. So, did the film help?
As a writer, myself, who generally prefers the book and has no idea who would play Lelani Rex or Johnathan Appleheart in her very own, (forthcoming, soon to be widely queried) The Unicorn Princess, I have to say I’m fascinated by how movies and books are trending hand in hand in today’s entertainment industry. It’s definitely a hot topic! I really enjoyed your post.
The Princess Bride, definitely. Loved the book (which I read long after first seeing the movie) but love the film even more.
I’d nominate “Stardust” for the movie being better than the book. Not that the book is bad, but if you’d done a like-for-like adaptation you wouldn’t get as good a film at all. Not least because the book doesn’t have Robert DeNiro’s wonderful Captain Shakespear in it.
Also the short story “Who Goes There”, adapted into John Carpenter’s magnificent “The Thing.” Read and re-read it many times and it doesn’t come close to the movie.
There are far more occasions where the book is leagues ahead of the film – these rarities should be celebrated more!
The African Queen! Best Movie Ever, loved it. Then read the book many years later and was suprised at how different it was. It also is good, but quite different and didn’t produce the magic feeling of the movie.
Forrest Gump. *shudder*
I’m not sure Bridget Jones the movie was better than the book, but it was at least as good. It had that magic you speak of — and, of course, Colin Firth ;-).
JAWS! One of my Favorite. Movies. EVER. The novel is very different–and while I read it cover-to-cover as a kid, I far prefer the chemistry and characterization and plotting of the movie.
Amazing you should mention Ordinary People. I just watched that on Netflix last night and you are so right that it holds up so well!
I love The Princess Bride!!! I’ve seen that movie so many times, and I’ll still watch it every time I see it on TV. (Yes, we have the DVD too.)
Big surprise – but I love it more than the book too.
I’ve got to agree with Janet Nye too – The Shawshank Redemption is better as a film (and, ironically, it’s one that breaks my “read the book first” rule, which MIGHT be one reason I like the film better but I can’t say that for certain).
I actually like THE GREEN MILE better as a film also, but that’s partly because the cast was absolutely amazing.
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