After seeing Gone Girl on the long weekend, I got to thinking about movies based on books.
The general rule is that the book is always better than the movie. I think this is because your own imagination is better than anything they can produce in Hollywood. It is also a testament to the quality of writing that provides the back story and inner thoughts of the characters as the action unfolds.
In the case of Gone Girl, I think the movie was better in some ways. By not providing her back story, the lead character Amy seems even more terrifying. However, the media beat up about the ending being different was wrong – the last line was different, but the result was the same.
Also, as much as I love him, I don’t think Ben Affleck being cast as Nick was the right choice. He was just not slick enough and not how I imagined the character to be at all. Perhaps Matt Damon would have been a better choice? (ha ha!).
I had a similar problem with Twilight. In the book, the character was a strong female, but in the first movie Kristen Stewart was just whiny! The trilogy did improve as the confidence of the actors and special effects did, but the inner dialogue between the wolves was not the best- although it is a hard concept to communicate through film.
One Day stayed true to the book, but somehow still missed the mark in making the transition from good film to great film. Perhaps due to the casting?
He’s just not that into you was very well done- I liked the intersecting stories and the casting was brilliant. I think the movie was actually far better than the book as it fictionalised the non-fiction which made it more personal.
Both the Devil Wears Prada and Confessions of a Shopaholic were excellent as books and as movies. The light hearted content make them very adaptable. Kudos to fellow Aussie chick Isla Fisher for playing the kooky character Becky in the latter perfectly- one might say even better than in the book.
Bridget Jones’s Diary was a great movie which earned a bit of a cult following. The sequel, not so much. Both movies stayed true to the book, so I’m not really sure what happened there?!
The same thing happened with the Sex and the City movie. First film good, second one a flop. Perhaps sequels are never as good as the originals. I’m pretty sure that was a lesson we already learnt in the 80’s right?!
The first Lord of the Rings movie was nowhere near as good as the books and I stopped watching after the first one. As previously mentioned, my dad used to read the books to me as a child, so perhaps my memory will always be greater than the movies.
I thought Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet was a very clever adaption to bring Shakespeare’s play into the 20th Century. The racy music and well-timed action would have been easy to understand even for those without the knowledge of the playwright and ye olde English.
Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire didn’t have enough of Louis’s back story at the beginning, but made up for it in the greatly gothic rest of the film. The sequel, The Queen of the Damned, was a terrible adaptation of the book. Anne Rice was not involved in the screenplay (as she was in Interview with the Vampire), which is an essential ingredient in a successful book to movie shift.
So here you have it- my golden rules for a successful adaptation from book to movie:
- Stay true to the book content
- Appropriate character casting
- Get the author of the book involved in the movie screenplay
- Don’t bother with the sequel
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