Entry #6 — Adaptation: Normally the motto is “don’t judge a book by its movie,” but sometimes we’re pleasantly surprised – which book-to-movie conversion was one that you liked?
I know I’ve been guilty of saying, “The book is so much better!” plenty of times in my life, but there were also times when the film adaptations took me by surprise. It seems to be if you read the book first, you prefer the book. If you watch the movie first, you like the movie. This is probably because if you read the book first, you have created mental images of what the characters and scenery should look like. When you see a film adaptation, you’re let down by the choices a director made. For example, my mom never read any of the Harry Potter or Twilight books—but she loves the movies! She loved the characters and the plot, and didn’t care about how much was “wrong” or “missing.” She didn’t know that she should be upset!
As stated in a previous post, The Outsiders was a great film adaptation. This was partly due to the fact that the cast was so fun, and partly due to the fact that the movie was requested by teen readers. There was a need to stay truthful to the story. It’s said that the first viewers were disappointed that certain scenes were missing, so these scenes were later added to the movie. Readers get attached to their book characters and directors have a lot of pressure to remain true to the original story.
Another great movie adaptation is the 1995 version of A Little Princess. The film, starring Liesel Matthews as Sara Crewe, was absolutely stunning. Sara’s enchanting life in India is contrasted with her strict new life at a boarding school. The characters are wonderful and the costuming is lovely. I watched this VHS tape over and over as a child. I wish I had it on DVD so I could watch it again now. Several years after watching A Little Princess, I read Frances Hodgson Burnett’s original 1905 story. I was bored by the novel, and found out that the movie had changed much of the story. However, I preferred the movie version and couldn’t get into the novel version.
Stardust was another film that I preferred over the book. The 2007 film stars Claire Danes, Charlie Cox, Sienna Miller, Michelle Pfeiffer, Robert De Niro, Ricky Gervais, and Henry Cavill. For a cast this impressive, it is underappreciated and very few people I know have ever seen it! Again, creative liberties were taken with the film—but I liked those liberties. They made sense to the story. There was more romance, more violence, and a faster pace to the movie. It was a fairytale that adults could enjoy. On the other hand, Neil Gaiman’s novel was a bit too sweet. There were moments of vagueness (characters didn’t always have names), there were chapters that didn’t make any sense whatsoever (why is a lion fighting a unicorn for a crown?), and the villain gives up on their quest. Take my advice, and rent Stardust. Skip the book version this time around.
Other Notable Mentions of Movies I Preferred to Their Book Counterpoints:
- The 2005 version of Pride & Prejudice, starring Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen, trumps Jane Austen’s 1813 novel. (I know I may not be very popular for admitting that!)
- 1971’s musical Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, starring Gene Wilder, trumps Roald Dahl’s 1964 children’s book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I love Roald Dahl, don’t get me wrong, but this film is a classic.
- The 1987 film, The Princess Bride, will forever remain one of my favorite movies of all time. However, I didn’t fall in love with William Goldman’s 1973 novel of the same name.