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        Is the movie ever better than the book?
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MadTapeMan
A legend in my own mind



Excluding movies based on short stories, can anyone name any movies that were better than the books they were based on?

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The Mad Tape Man stikes again!

Total Posts: 468 | Joined Nov. 2006 | Posted on: 8:58 pm on Nov. 19, 2006 | Link to this post
Krss
admin



That's a hard one.. :lol:

No, I can't think of any.

Total Posts: 2307 | Joined Aug. 2006 | Posted on: 9:09 pm on Nov. 19, 2006 | Link to this post
Praeludium
ALL GLORY TO THE HYPNOTOAD



I can't say any film has improved upon a novel, but there have definitely been some great movies made which exist on equal footing. Blade Runner comes to mind. The adaptation wasn't an exact copy of the book, but it was excellently done.

Another example along those lines is 1968's Planet of the Apes. It was based on a French novel, but most everybody has forgotten about the book by now. I've never read the book, I'll admit, but if the movie is able to become a cultural icon while the original is forgotten, that's a pretty good reflection on the celluloid version.

There are exceptions, but a film generally does better in my eyes when it allows itself to depart from just rehashing a book. I thought the third Harry Potter movie was light years beyond the first two, mostly because the director changed some things around. (Book was still better, though.)

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Won't you join me on the perennial quest
Reaching into the dark, retrieving light

Total Posts: 201 | Joined Sep. 2006 | Posted on: 9:51 pm on Nov. 19, 2006 | Link to this post
Marion
forebrain



Death Note, in some ways.

Yes, Death Note was a novel.

Also, Memoirs of a Geisha, but only because the book was so awful the movie couldn't be any worse.

(Edited by Marion at 10:11 pm on Nov. 19, 2006)

Total Posts: 624 | Joined Aug. 2006 | Posted on: 10:11 pm on Nov. 19, 2006 | Link to this post
MadTapeMan
A legend in my own mind



I thought Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep(book) was much better than Blade Runner(movie).

The movie was just clean cut hero vs. subhuman killers.  Trite.  In the book, there were no good guys and bad guys.  Everyone reacted realistically like average people doing whatever they had to to get by.  Dick made it possible for the reader to identify with every character and it really highlighted some of the hypocrisies in our society.

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The Mad Tape Man stikes again!

Total Posts: 468 | Joined Nov. 2006 | Posted on: 10:23 pm on Nov. 19, 2006 | Link to this post
Almirena
Brain-Tingler



I do love the film "Blade Runner", but the story by Philip K. Dick was superb. I'm glad we have both the written story and the film.

*ignores the short-story prohibition for a moment*

The short story "Minority Report" by Philip K. Dick was haunting - again, I loved it. The film was not as good as the story, but it was eminently watchable (in spite of the product placement!). My judgement: not bad at all.

Lord of the Rings - one of my favourite set of books. I was so enthralled with the first of the films, but the second had major problems, and the third... terrible decisions were made by the director and scriptwriters! It's definitely a case of "Don't try to improve Tolkien" - they WILL try, and what happens? HOLLYWOOD moments. It remains one of my favourite book-to-screen transitions, but it could have been better with respect to the 2nd and 3rd films. The cast was superbly chosen - Aragorn, oh mon dieu, Aragorn... *this is a Santi-and-the-snake moment*... and the wonderful Frodo of Elijah Wood, the equally wonderful Legolas (Orlando Bloom's best role by far), the magnificently flawed Boromir played by Sean Bean... I could go on and on. The cast is simply outstanding.

Portrait of a Lady - no, the film just didn't work. Beautiful to look at, silly in execution.

Ice Station Zebra - well, I'm an Alistair MacLean fan. I consider him the finest writer of action/adventure/thriller novels in the world. His books are great escapist material, exactly what a book in this genre should be. None of the films based on his books have matched the books themselves - mostly they miss out the witty characterisation and the real sense of competent, strong, honourable, witty, determined personality. (You can tell I love the type of character...) However, Ice Station Zebra wasn't bad at all.

The Ellis Peters mediæval mysteries - beautifully written, and extraordinarily well brought to the screen in a television series that starred the excellent Derek Jacobi. I think there's a case for saying the filmed versions were as good as the books.

Pride and Prejudice - nothing will top the book itself, but the 6-part BBC series is utterly, utterly, utterly, utterly beautiful. I thought Jennifer Ehle actually BECAME Elizabeth Bennet for me. Colin Firth was perfect, perfect, perfect, PERFECT as Darcy. Everything about that miniseries was sheer delight. It's as good as it gets in the book-to-screen examples.

However, I hated the new Pride & Prejudice film with Keira Knightley more than I can say.

The Stephen King about vampires... can't remember the name... but that worked extremely well as a film. The book was spine-chilling. That is a very successful transition indeed.

Le Conte de Monte Cristo - in French with Gerard Depardieu - magnificent. MAGNIFICENT. That is one of the best examples of great book = great film that I've ever seen.

The film "Night Watch" (and subsequent films, one yet to be completed so I haven't seen it) based on the Russian books by Sergei Lukyanenko... riveting. I loved the film. The book is even more complex and full of rich storyline possibilities, but the film hooked me from the first moment.





(Edited by Almirena at 9:26 am on Nov. 20, 2006)

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Half-light, purblind streams where moonlight washes over trees / Lustred with a glow, as if from pearls upon the throat
Where the night's kiss lights upon her; rose's rhapsodies, / Warm as oils, imbue this bliss-fed hour with trembling note
"Where-? And who-?" Her breath's unspoken soul is light's perdue
That, hidden, seeks the unseen with a sigh… "Ah, L'inconnu!"

Total Posts: 1033 | Joined Sep. 2006 | Posted on: 11:24 pm on Nov. 19, 2006 | Link to this post
Praeludium
ALL GLORY TO THE HYPNOTOAD



I think the latest film version of Pride and Prejudice will always have a special place in my heart, because it inspired me to read the book (buying the complete works of Jane Austen in the process), then watch the entire BBC miniseries in one afternoon.

Plus, it had Keira Knightley.

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Won't you join me on the perennial quest
Reaching into the dark, retrieving light

Total Posts: 201 | Joined Sep. 2006 | Posted on: 11:53 pm on Nov. 19, 2006 | Link to this post
Tsolaelia
White Matter



I can actually think of one - A Series of Unfortunate Events. The books were dreadful, but I quite enjoyed the film.

In most cases, though, I definitely think the book is better.

Total Posts: 460 | Joined Sep. 2006 | Posted on: 10:44 am on Nov. 22, 2006 | Link to this post
r
flatliner



'Dune' (the first novel in the series) is among my favorite and most loved books.
Lynch butchered the novel with his awful version [here follow thoughts of heavy general Lynch-bashing]
the Sci-fi Channel (or was it Hallmark?) mini series was in turn quite true to the book and i cannot complain much about it.

on the other hand.. i find 'Children of Dune' - the third book in the series - horrible and an unworthy sequel. i was let down by it and don't think i even finished reading it.
BUT in the mini series they decided to make a couple of changes to the story and some of the details.. and it actually became a very good movie that i did enjoy very much.

Total Posts: 491 | Joined Aug. 2006 | Posted on: 5:23 pm on Nov. 25, 2006 | Link to this post
Santi
Phantom moderator



I think this is a subtler matter than it might appear at a first consideration. On what basis do we judge a book as better than the film it was transposed into and vice versa?
What characteristics of the two expressive means do we consider?

Under the point of view of artistic expression, given of course that cinema is not an art any more and literature is a commercial matter (with some rare exceptions), I'd consider a film being a failure if it simply stuck to the "original" text without adding, changing and, most importantly of all, using the expressive means specific to the medium.

Adherence to the original text is a marginal issue, in my opinion: there can be films which are better than the books they are based upon if they manage to   say "more" than the book.

Think of the adaptations of Agatha Christie's novels, films like Julia (based on a novel by Somerset Maugham), Coppola's Dracula...

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"Ich werde sie sehen!" ruf' ich morgens aus, wenn ich mich ermuntere und mit aller Heiterkeit der schönen Sonne entgegenblicke; "ich werde sie sehen!" und da habe ich für den ganzen Tag keinen Wunsch weiter. Alles, alles verschlingt sich in dieser Aussicht. [Goethe]

Total Posts: 1703 | Joined Aug. 2006 | Posted on: 11:19 pm on Nov. 25, 2006 | Link to this post
Krss
admin



Agatha's novels are better than any movie.:tongue:

Total Posts: 2307 | Joined Aug. 2006 | Posted on: 11:23 pm on Nov. 25, 2006 | Link to this post
Almirena
Brain-Tingler



... except for "Murder on the Orient Express" which was done absolutely superbly, and thus matches the book.

I didn't like Coppola's Dracula. Why didn't he stick to the depiction of Dracula as he should be? An old horrible man with a bloated face when he'd fed, NOT a man of sensuous allurement with whom Mina was in love. Ugh, ugh, ugh, ugh, UGH.

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Half-light, purblind streams where moonlight washes over trees / Lustred with a glow, as if from pearls upon the throat
Where the night's kiss lights upon her; rose's rhapsodies, / Warm as oils, imbue this bliss-fed hour with trembling note
"Where-? And who-?" Her breath's unspoken soul is light's perdue
That, hidden, seeks the unseen with a sigh… "Ah, L'inconnu!"

Total Posts: 1033 | Joined Sep. 2006 | Posted on: 11:28 pm on Nov. 25, 2006 | Link to this post
r
flatliner



even though i'd read the Stoker book long before the movie, i oddly didn't mind Coppola's version. i do like the movie, along with all the changed and added details..

i think Christie's novels are quite rewarding as far as movie adaptations go.  there are many good Christie movies out there, and particularly i find the latest Suchet adaptations of the Poirot novels quite a successful atempt.

Total Posts: 491 | Joined Aug. 2006 | Posted on: 12:59 am on Nov. 26, 2006 | Link to this post
r
flatliner



loosly connected to the topic..

don't know if anyone else will be motivated and patient enough to read through this, but i had to save it for archive reasons :))
this MB exchange between wfriday and rei_t_ex is priceless.. >_>

Total Posts: 491 | Joined Aug. 2006 | Posted on: 3:23 am on Jan. 2, 2007 | Link to this post
Krss
admin



I read the exchange (or what I could stomach reading before bursting from tl;dr:tongue: ) and I think this kind of conflict is very common between readers..

I've had this problem quite a few times in my life, with people considering themselves somehow superior because they read and enjoy books I would find boring or pointless. Even at 28, I am still ashamed of saying what stuff I read sometimes for fear of getting judged.

Anyway, from my life experience, reading habits do not define the level of a person's intelligence.

Total Posts: 2307 | Joined Aug. 2006 | Posted on: 6:29 am on Jan. 2, 2007 | Link to this post
Almirena
Brain-Tingler



I thought it represented two stubborn people, with one person's faults (a tendency to write with some terminology more appropriate to a thesis, although I adore florid language myself - but I try NOT to be turgid!) causing another to be rude and make assumptions that might not have been the case. I can't say with which of them I agree re the novel, though, as I haven't read it. Has anyone else here? Is it a novel into which one has to read meaning?

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Half-light, purblind streams where moonlight washes over trees / Lustred with a glow, as if from pearls upon the throat
Where the night's kiss lights upon her; rose's rhapsodies, / Warm as oils, imbue this bliss-fed hour with trembling note
"Where-? And who-?" Her breath's unspoken soul is light's perdue
That, hidden, seeks the unseen with a sigh… "Ah, L'inconnu!"

Total Posts: 1033 | Joined Sep. 2006 | Posted on: 7:15 am on Jan. 2, 2007 | Link to this post
r
flatliner



i have (and just for the record it's one of my favorites, with Gibson being one of my favorites as well). you don't have to read anything into it, though, it is pretty much a possibility with everything.. but PR is surely no 'Jurrasic Park' type of a novel, so it's more open to projections.

Quote: from Krss on 6:29 am on Jan. 2, 2007
Even at 28, I am still ashamed of saying what stuff I read sometimes for fear of getting judged.
:))))) well, i don't display the log of what i read freely either.. for fear of revealing too much about me or being rather misleading (can't decide which).. :p

Total Posts: 491 | Joined Aug. 2006 | Posted on: 11:53 am on Jan. 2, 2007 | Link to this post
Almirena
Brain-Tingler



Thanks - I think I'll have to add Gibson to my list of authors to read.

I saw Eragon with a friend a few days ago. We hated it.

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Half-light, purblind streams where moonlight washes over trees / Lustred with a glow, as if from pearls upon the throat
Where the night's kiss lights upon her; rose's rhapsodies, / Warm as oils, imbue this bliss-fed hour with trembling note
"Where-? And who-?" Her breath's unspoken soul is light's perdue
That, hidden, seeks the unseen with a sigh… "Ah, L'inconnu!"

Total Posts: 1033 | Joined Sep. 2006 | Posted on: 10:40 pm on Jan. 2, 2007 | Link to this post
r
flatliner



as compared to the book or just in general?
i don't know the book but i think i've read somewhere that it was written by someone very young.
all in all, i was never really motivated to give it a try since i generally don't like fairytale-ish fantasy.

on the other hand, some time ago i tried to read the first 'His Dark Materials' books (and soon to be a movie, too) after some raving reviews and recommendations.. but i didn't get too far with it.. i thought it was awfully written and don't know if it's just me, but it felt really weird and i had a very unpleasant feeling reading it.. >_>

Total Posts: 491 | Joined Aug. 2006 | Posted on: 11:22 pm on Jan. 2, 2007 | Link to this post
Almirena
Brain-Tingler



Interesting feedback about "His Dark Materials", r! I admit I enjoyed reading Pullman, although I don't like his underlying tone. But his writing style - beautifully lyrical, with considerable depth and some utterly gorgeous descriptions. (Take, for instance, the very beginning of book 3 - it's almost poetic.) I DON'T think he is a better writer than C.S. Lewis (and Pullman admitted he wanted his trilogy to shove the Narnia Chronicles out of the way), but he is skilled and gifted. I found the second book the most enthralling - I suppose I just happened to like the character of Will more than the other characters, and the whole idea of being able to cut into another reality is cleverly conveyed. I know it's not original, but Pullman is a great example of a writer who brings his OWN vision and OWN style to a concept commonly used (Star Trek episodes galore, for instance).

Paolini, the writer of the Eragon books, was apparently 15 when he started writing, but 19 when the book was finished and published. That first book was published by his parents (who own a publishing company). It then, through his parents happening to know the right people in a major publishing company, was taken up by that company and publicised in a huge marketing campaign, pushing the fact that Paolini was a teenager and that this was a new Lord of the Rings.

I started to read Eragon. It's not awful - quite readable, if you can get past the high-flown style of language. Paolini is often accused of plagiarism (and I have to agree - there are whole slabs which are lifted straight out of other books. I don't know whether he did it deliberately, or if - like most teens writing a fanfic - he just modelled himself entirely on his favourite writers to the point that he subconsciously copied favourite scenes), and he's also often accused of being thesaurus-happy. That is, he'll use a word in a context where it... well... nearly makes sense, but not quite, because the word in that context has a slightly different subtext to what would be needed. The overt meaning is right, but the undertone is not.

He's no Tolkien. Perhaps the book shouldn't have been published. His parents may have done him no favours. Perhaps they should have let him develop rather than be so impressed by his ability to write that they ignored he was still writing like a bright teenager. That is, some effective stuff, a lot of imitative stuff, and the entire storyline lifted ad hoc from a certain well-known movie. I think Paolini has the potential to be a good writer... but it's too early to tell for certain. However, incredibly good marketing has ensured the Eragon books are a hit among teens. A huge hit.

The movie of "Eragon" is ghastly. I've never seen such a rotten film, apart from "Independence Day". It was loaded with clichés. The dialogue was stilted and awful. The acting was no more than adequate for the most part (except for Joss Stone as a completely irrelevant prophetess - possibly the worst acting I've ever seen in a film. No, wait. Olivia Newton-John in "Xanadu" may have been worse. It's hard to say). The lead - no charisma. Jeremy Irons - oh dear, he was terribly earnest as he tried his best to be the stock "mentor" character and get through some incredibly turgid lines. "Don't die! I need you!" chokes out Eragon. "No - I needed you," replies Brom, an earnest light in his eyes. Touching moment... not. "TOGETHER!" "ARE WE TOGETHER?"

Yes, I loathed the film. It's loaded with saccharine music, too. Lots of Disney home-boy moments with Disney home-boy music.

Oh, and Malkovich played the villain. To give you some idea of how much they prized his input, count his lines... four. Yes, four lines.

Oh, God... how I long for a fantasy film with complexity. Characters that are not either black or white... situations that are ambiguous... a storyline that doesn't involve "training with a mentor", "finding the power within"... etc. We've seen it umpteen times. I LOVE fantasy... but the genre seems to produce more cardboard-style duds than many other genres. Good fantasy is so exciting because it's somewhat unusual.

I would never, never, never recommend the film "Eragon" to anyone. Absolutely ghastly... unutterably boring. However, to be fair, there are MANY (apparently, mostly fangirls who think the actor playing Eragon is "OMG hes sooooooo hot!" and "OMG Saphira the dragon was soooooooo cute!") who disagree with me.

(Edited by Almirena at 11:51 am on Jan. 3, 2007)

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Half-light, purblind streams where moonlight washes over trees / Lustred with a glow, as if from pearls upon the throat
Where the night's kiss lights upon her; rose's rhapsodies, / Warm as oils, imbue this bliss-fed hour with trembling note
"Where-? And who-?" Her breath's unspoken soul is light's perdue
That, hidden, seeks the unseen with a sigh… "Ah, L'inconnu!"

Total Posts: 1033 | Joined Sep. 2006 | Posted on: 1:51 am on Jan. 3, 2007 | Link to this post
 

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