I should really start this post by letting you know that I already made up my mind on this one. I love books. Movie versions usually (always) suck.
Just kidding! About it being the end, my opinion remains entirely the same but let’s take a look shall we………..
To get the ball rolling I have racked my brain to think of some books I have read that have been unfortunate enough to have had movies made out of them (Well, not actually out of them, no one wants to see a paper movie, although I’m not even sure how that would work) and here is a list of five, chosen completely at random, which means the first five that popped into my Friday afternoon I’ve-just-done-Crossfit-but-not-yet-had wine brain:
1. Out of Sight by Elmore Leonard
2. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
3. Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson
4. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
5. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
Right, just to be as obtuse as possible let’s work from the bottom up.
Oscar Wilde was a genius. I’m not sure if he was a certified genius but were he still to be alive I would make him a certificate with faux gold trim and a medal out of one of those Norwegian monies with a hole in the middle (and not just because I have some lying around, it would be a practical gift also – you never know when you might be stuck in Oslo airport with NO Norwegian currency). Anyway….I adore The Picture of Dorian Gray. The characters are so engaging, the dialogue so witty and clever (that on occasion I have needed to re-read to fully capture it all), the story so fantastical and fabulous that it would be a travesty to make this work of art into a film. Or so I thought. My professional opinion? They did a not bad job. I’d even go as far as to say I really quite enjoyed the film and have even watched it twice.
Yup. My name is Natalie and I have seen The Picture of Dorian Gray twice. (can I have a bit of pie now?!)
In the case of this Book to Movie (BtM) situation I was pleasantly surprised. What didn’t I like? The alterations to the story. Why couldn’t they just leave it the same as the book? Conclusion: a pretty decent movie but the book is superior.
So we are at book version: 1 , film version: 0
Twilight. Were you Team Edward? Were you Team What was the other one’s name again?!?!? (completely indifferent? Moi? Indeed) Were you really interested until halfway through book two when all Bella’s talking and total lack of any action sucked away all your enthusiasm for what happened to anyone in the series? I digress.
This is a quick one. I actually saw the movie first and really enjoyed it. Then I read the book and also enjoyed it. I call it a draw.
Book versions: 2 , film versions: 1
Snow Falling on Cedars. One of the most beautiful books I have ever read. The characterisation, the feeling the story transmits to the reader, the description, the setting, the sheer frustration in some parts, everything…everything in this book makes it a masterpiece. Then came the film. I remember going with the rest of my family to see it with trepidation: we had all read the book. We all loved the book. The nerves. Did we cry? Maybe, but they were tears of sadness for the people in the story and not tears of anger at the film-makers. It may be the only film I have ever seen that did the book 100% justice. Perfectly cast, perfectly carried out. Loved it.
Book versions: 3 , film versions: 2
BREIF INTERLUDE FOR A COMMENTARY
You may have realised from the last score update that there is no way for the films to win (if you hadn’t noticed this do not admit it to anyone). Why can’t they win? Well because I am never going to say a film was better than a book when said film is based on said book. It makes no sense. As you are ripping out your hair (movie lovers) and screaming ‘then why are you writing this you *****???? It is UNFAIR!!!’ I refer you back to my original statement at the top of this post and shall leave it at that.
The Help. I loved this book so much. I hated, with a vengeance, the nasty characters and wanted them all to die horrible, painful deaths for being the most disgusting people EVER and vice versa for the others. Did I feel the same way when I saw the film? Hmmm, not really. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I didn’t want to go out for high tea with them and high five them on their new, outdoor toilets but I didn’t want to call down a plague on them in the same way I did in the book (I did still want to…just maybe a smaller plague) I thought it was a good film actually and had I not read the book first I may have called it great even but it just wasn’t the same for me. The moments in the book where I wanted to throw it on the floor and jump on it repeatedly weren’t as intense when I watched the film (also can we take a moment to contemplate the monetary repercussions of jumping on a plasma telly?).
Book versions: 4 , film versions:2
Out of Sight. Elmore Leonard (RIP). What a man, what a writer. Such a stylish and enveloping story. READ IT. READ IT RIGHT NOW (well, after reading this clearly) in fact read all of his books. The movie. Have any of you ever been working in an office environment when it comes to the end of year review and you know you have to at least say one good thing about that staff member? George Clooney is hot.
Book versions: 5 , film versions:2
OOOO Kids we have a clear winner. Pheew, I was worried there for a while.
HELPFUL AND CONSTRUCTIVE CONCLUSION TO LENGTHIEST POST EVER
The films were never going to win, not for me anyway. I suppose, if I think about it, it is a somewhat unfair comparison. I mean, it’s not like I could ever compare the book someone made out of a film (that may actually be physically possible, think overhead projector slides) to that film.
‘Natalie, you know that really great movie we saw…I think it was called Rocky..apparently they’re making it into a book!’
Waaaa ha ha ha ha. NO.
Also, I am sure that somewhere out there, there are some very good film adaptations of novels. It is just that I have only seen one of them. There are some books I loved so much that no matter how many times I am told the film won’t disappoint, I won’t watch them. The Kite Runner being the perfect example.
Last but not least I would like to apologise for my constant switching from the word film to movie and back again. There is just no consistency in some people’s writing.
Happy Friday kids,
PS. What books were ruined for you by a bad movie version? And what ones did you love?