You totally DID read that right!
I know that as a budding writer wanna-be it might seem blasphemous to say that there was EVER a book-turned-movie that I liked better in its cinematic form, but it’s true! Hey–not everything is going to be my cup of tea, you know? And sometimes, when the books are a little… out-there for me, the take that the director and screen-writers went with is just the thing to take the writer’s idea and really grab my interest.
In case you’re wondering, I’m posting again so soon because I’m off work sick today. ;( Boo. I mean, I like being off work, but not if I have to be sick to do it! Bah. I’m wrangling with a SUPERBLY annoying sore throat, among other things, so my day has been countless cups of tea and trips to the bathroom–but I digress.
SO, for your viewing pleasure today, I decided to post a few examples of books that I thought were ‘all right,’ versus their movie versions, which I liked much better. 🙂 (There aren’t A WHOLE LOT, just so you know. Perhaps that will make your blown minds feel a little bit better. xD)
1. The Princess Bride by William Goldman
Obviously, everyone knows that The Princess Bride is a total classic. I’m pretty sure this was the first movie I watched in college, all piled up on two of the dorm beds that had been pushed together, squished between two people I didn’t know yet and reveling in the bad-ass-ness of being a freshman. Well, something like that. Let’s just say that although the movie does have its quirks, it’s actually quite entertaining, if for no other reason than the host of crazy actors and side-characters.
The book, however, loses a lot of this charm en route. It includes entire chapters that don’t seem terribly necessary to the story or what is happening, like the one that talks about Prince Humperdinck’s menagerie, or something to that effect. Not to say that there probably aren’t people out there who ENJOY that sort of thing; I just don’t happen to be one of them. Plus, in the newer edition that I have, there’s an extra chapter that has Buttercup and Wesley’s baby being thrown off a cliff…? It was just sort of a depressing ending, I’ll put it that way.
To cap it all off, it’s told in a very non-traditional format, as though it is an ‘abridged’ version, or something, of another book, which doesn’t actually exist, and Goldman inserts a running commentary, like, ALL the time. It can be kind of distracting if you just want to get to the important bits, you know?
Plus, who can resist seeing the little boy and the grandpa in the movie?! Especially since he’s that kid from ‘Boy Meets World’s twin, so.
2. Stardust by Neil Gaiman
Don’t get me wrong–I find Neil Gaiman a fascinatingly odd guy, with that famously weird British humor, and I like several other of his works–Coraline and his collaboration with Terry Pratchett, Good Omens, being among them–but Stardust didn’t quite make it for me. I think several of my complaints are similar to those I expressed with Princess Bride, but I guess that just tells you what I really like/don’t like in books!
The movie Stardust isn’t going to go down in the history books as a mastering of cinematography but, on the other hand, I own a copy of it and haul it out to watch it every once in awhile, which alone should say something since there are a million things to watch out there, and if you watch something twice you must really enjoy it. The story is a fun one set in a magical world adjacent to a non-magical one, and has everything a good story should have–awesome bad guys, romance, a cross-dressing pirate captain, some other comedic relief, and a sweet battle at the end.
The book has almost none of those things.
Instead, in the book, Gaiman seems to be incredibly ambivalent about… well, pretty much everything. Lots of things happen in the book that don’t in the movie, which didn’t bother me a bit, because most of the extra stuff was unimportant and easy to ignore in favor of the good stuff I was expecting, which never came. Perhaps I made the mistake of watching the movie BEFORE I read the book, but still.
There was no floating ship, no cross-dressing pirate, no big battle at the end, and almost no romance. Instead, at the end, everyone seemed to look around, go ‘Oh, hm. Well, all that happened, lets move on.’ and then did. Seriously disappointing. I’d go for the movie every time.
3. Forest Gump by Wintson Groom
It’s not really a secret that I enjoy happy endings, or at least a semblance of a happy ending. It’s one of the reasons I tend to lean more towards genre fiction as opposed to literary fiction–because while the characters in literary books usually learn something about themselves, or life, or the universe… well, very rarely are they happy at the end of it all. Content? Maybe. Happy? Usually not.
So I guess it’s not much of a surprise that, when it comes to Forest Gump, I’m gonna have to vote the movie over the book.
I stumbled across the book at the library a bit ago and decided to read it, because what the heck? It’s an older story, you know, so I wasn’t familiar with it, although who DOESN’T remember the whole ‘life is like a box of chocolates’ thing? So I sat down to read the book, which wasn’t a terribly long read–at least once you’d learned to navigate Forest’s terrible spelling.
And I liked him as a character. He had something about him which made him worthy of reading about, the kind of character you’re SUPPOSED to write a book on, as well as an interesting life. He just kind of stumbled into things with a wisdom born of being an outcast most of his life. From his point of view, most of the other characters became the odd ones, which was a really interesting take.
But a lot of stuff happened, again a lot of things I might not have deemed it necessary to include. And when I watched the movie later, I thought they pared it to the essentials pretty well. (As movies are wont to do.) I won’t give anything away, but the biggest difference is at the end, and involves Forest’s love interest, Jenny. Both book AND movie had sad endings, but… oddly enough, I prefer the movie’s take. Which is weird, when I think about what happens. But I just had a better feeling in my gut at the end of that then I did when I put down the book. Then I felt hollow, like… what was the point? The movie might not have given me butterflies, but I felt the purpose.
Tah-dah! so there you have it, my sick-day post about movies vs. their books. keep in mind that there are a ZILLION more movies based off of books in which I liked the books better, which is why I won’t do any posts specifically devoted to those–it would be a HUGE LIST–but they exist!
Let me know if you agree, disagree, or have any books YOU liked better as a movie!
(A close runner-up would be, for me, the Lord of the Ring trilogy! Sacrilegious I know, but I’ve never been able to get through those books, and the movies are cinematic masterpieces, sooooo…. What can I say?! Thanks though, Tolkien, for writing them! We wouldn’t have had the story without you. <3)
Keep well now, you guys! Being sick stinks.