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Monday, February 28, 2011

Monday Discussion: Books into Movies

In honor of last night's Oscars I wanted to focus today's Monday Discussion on the best and worst of movies made from books.

Generally, I avoid movie versions of books I have loved.  Specifically, I would not see the movie versions of The Road, The Lovely Bones, and The Time Traveler's Wife because I loved the books and did not want the movie to ruin it.  In fact, for this reason I am considering avoiding the movie version of Water for Elephants and The Help, both due to theaters in 2011.

There have been surprises, like Cold Mountain, The Perfect Storm, and The Lord of the Rings Trilogy for which I loved the movie and the book.

And then there are books which I did not love, but I really enjoyed the movie versions of like No Country for Old Men.

But unfortunately, from time to time, I have seen a bad movie version of what was a good book.  In my opinion recent examples of these include The Blindside (movie was sappy, book was very interesting and thought provoking and not just about Michael Oher) and The Ruins.

Specifically The Ruins movie version still makes me mad.   For the record, The Ruins is my favorite horror book of all time.  The movie not only changed the ending (which in this case changes the entire tone of the book), but they changed the order in which the monster killed off the characters.  Also, in this novel, the characters are stranded on a hill top and being stalked by a plant-monster.  The waiting is unbearable in the book.  In the movie, there is no tension in the waiting.  The characters are built up during these uneasy moments of doomed waiting in the book, waiting for help that they know will not and cannot come.  In the movie, the characters did not have the chance to be developed because there was not emphasis on the tortured waiting.

I could go on for awhile about how much this movie ruined the book (pun intended).

To add to the discussion, The Chicago Tribune ran this article on Saturday suggesting books to compliment some of the Oscar nominees.

Now it's your turn.  For today's Monday Discussion, share your opinions good or bad about books being turned into movies.

And remember, I now have the Monday Discussion Archive accessible here.


Laurie C said...

Some great children's books have been made into what look like pretty bad movies, (Where the Wild Things Are, Stuart Little, and Ramona and Beezus come to mind) but I churlishly refused to watch even the previews of these practically sacrilegious movies all the way through, so I can't give a rational opinion on them.

John BPL RA said...

Hollywood ruins literature. Authors and publishers sell off movie rights because they smell money and then watch as their best-selling book gets turned into idiocy. The worst is when the movie does poorly and they don't see the huge box office returns yet their novel is still reduced to an over-simplified or completely changed film. A huge part of the reason movie versions suck so bad is because Hollywood operates off some stupid notion that every story, with few exceptions, has to be approximately two hours long. Long epics are chopped down. Short stories are stretched out. The result is a waste of your time.

Of course, there are a few exceptions. Gone With The Wind, The Shining and East of Eden are all iconic films to name a few. Wonderful acting, directing and large film budgets can make a book into a great film. Sadly, most book-to-film movies are cranked out fast in order to capitalize on the success of a best selling novel. That's why you end up with hasty adaptations, poor casting (usually determined by whatever actors are popular and available rather than good for the role) and horrible end results with disappointed and even bitter authors.

Betty said...

I think the worst movie adaptation I've experienced is Correlli's Mandolin, which was a magnificent book. One of the biggest mistakes, aside from butchering the story, was casting Nicholas Cage in the title role. In this movie, I swear he couldn't wave goodbye authentically unless he was really going someplace.

One of the best, so far, is the new version of True Grit. It really captures the essence of the book, including the voice of Mattie Ross.