Forget the battle between 24 young Tributes – this is the real battle…book v movie.
Book v movie…book v movie….I'm a slave to two masters on this one because I love books and I love movies. When a book I love is made into a movie there’s potential for the ultimate meeting of mediums, or for disaster.
As reported previously, The Hunger Games was as successful an adaptation as I’ve seen in a long time – it was as faithful as cinema would allow, alterations were seamless and the casting near-perfect. Rather predictably, it set me off on a review of other book adaptations I loved, and some I didn’t…
Salem’s Lot (1979)
Okay, so the casting isn’t perfect, and some of my favourite characters from the book are missing (or irritatingly rolled into one), but this version of Stephen King’s classic just sort of gets it. The muted, small town horror translates nicely on the screen, and the entire thing is defined by two things - that scary-child-at-window scene and that vampire. The 2004 TV movie should have worked – it had restored many of the small stories and more of the townspeople of the Lot made an appearance, but it was just too self aware, the characters too knowing. I’m a huge fan of Rutget Hauer, but his version of vampire Barlow just didn’t have the same impact.
We have to whisper this one. I know for some people this will be nothing short of sacrilege, but – sssshhhh - I preferred the movie. I’m not sure how much this has to do with seeing the movie before I read the book, but compared to Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams on screen, the book just didn’t have the same intensity, or appeal. Before I have fans of Nicholas Sparks beating down my door, I would like to add that I enjoyed the book, but it seemed like we were almost at the end before much had happened, and I was more invested in the characters on screen than in the book.
The Lord of the Rings
Let me first say that fantasy is not my thing, and Tolkien’s books have always been something of a challenge for me. After three attempts I still haven’t made it out of the Shire. I don’t want to say it’s boring, exactly…okay I do. (Again, I’m not bashing the book here, it’s just not my cup of tea) On screen, though, it’s a different story altogether.
I do love a blockbuster, and I’m not entirely unconvinced that this isn’t the greatest one of all. Steven Spielberg took a decent, if not exactly page-turning, book and made into a true spectacle of entertainment. The vibrations in the water glass, the raptor chase in the kitchen, the electric fence, the John Williams score – is there anything about this movie that isn’t iconic?
The Vampire Diaries
I first read the books as a teenager, and I loved them. The television show has very little similarity to the books, and I love it. It’s completely bonkers and the plot grows more strange and convoluted with every hour, and this old-enough-to-know-better fan is completely hooked.
Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t…
I know I said fantasy isn’t really my thing, but when it comes to movies I’ll pretty much watch anything once. Eragon was a harmless, pointless kind of movie, one that normally I would have forgotten about had curiosity not got the better of me. The movie seemed to be missing half of its story, and when I learned that it was based on a book I wanted to find out the rest.
The main question I was left with after reading the book was why bother? If you’re going to adapt a book, should it not have more than a passing resemblance to the, you know, book? I mean besides having the same title and both having a big blue dragon. As harmless a film as it was, as an adaptation it was terrible, and it was unique in that it seemed to deliberately rule out any possibility of adapting the rest of the series. Very odd.
Bridget Jones’ Diary
I love the movie. I do. As a comedy and a crowd-pleaser, it’s terrific (especially the All By Myself opening). But as an adaptation it’s a huge let-down. The book and Bridget herself are both much smarter than the film gives them credit for, and the character comes dangerously close to slipping into caricature.
The Twilight Saga
I’m not an expert, but I feel there’s more to adapting a book than sticking a pin in random pages and filming those.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
Only two scenes needed to be done right for me to love this movie the way I loved the book – Mrs Weasley’s showdown with Bellatrix and Neville’s big moment. That was all I asked. Instead they were rushed, out of sequence and diluted. Two scenes – it wasn’t too much to ask was it?
Sometimes, though, there’s a draw…take a bow, To Kill a Mockingbird, one of my favourite adaptations of a book despite being so different. Gregory Peck isn’t the picture of Atticus Finch I see in my head when I read the book, but he is Atticus Finch. We don’t get to see all the small adventures Jem and Scout have in their summer, but we know they have them. Book versus movie? Sometimes, there’s room for both.
What’s your favourite – or at least favourite – adaptation?