Thursday, January 29, 2015

Movie Talk

An author posted the question on Facebook re: books made into motion pictures. Are there any movies that you enjoyed more than the book upon which it was based? My first thought was Doctor Zhivago. I tried reading Pasternak's novel in college while studying Russian lit. Not at all readable. I made it through One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, Anna Karenina, and Crime and Punishment just fine. But the movie Doctor Zhivago captured the horror of war, the ruthlessness of Lara's husband, the incredible Russian scenery, and the emotional battle within a man in love with two women. The book did not, at least not for me.

Then there are motion pictures that borrow the title of a book and little else, like Ian Fleming's The Spy Who Loved Me. I enjoyed the book, but except for the James Bond character, it bore no resemblance to the movie. Alas, the movie was more entertaining. Then there's Jean Shepherd's In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash, which is a delightful read (not a novel. More of a collection of vignettes from Shepherd's childhood) but not quite as entertaining as its film version, A Christmas Story. Who doesn't enjoy A Christmas Story, with Ralphie's quest for the ultimate boy's Christmas present, a Red Ryder BB gun?

I could write a post every day about movies that fail to do the book justice, but that's been done to death. Borrowing from my colleague's question, is there a film you thought was an improvement on the book?


Skyewriter said...

I read Killer Angels, the book that the movie Gettysburg was based on, and felt that movie really did the book justice. It's always hard for a movie to convey the thoughts and feelings that we can see so clearly when we are in the character's heads while reading, but this movie was very true to the book. I always thought Clint Eastwood got unfairly slammed for his role in Bridges of Madison County as that book was so much introspection and inner conflict. He did that role as well as anyone could have, I thought.

Cheryl Norman said...

Good examples. The Bridges of Madison County book wasn't nearly as good as the movie.

Sharon Drane said...

Some movies do great jobs of translating novels to screen, like my all time favorite To Kill A Mockingbird. The director and cast were able to capture the feeling of a small town in the deep south in earlier, uglier times. None of the flow of the dialogue was lost in the translation to film, thanks to the careful attention to detail by the scriptwriters.

But other films do not do justice to the beauty of the writing. Take for example, The Prince of Tides by the incredible Pat Conroy. I think his prose is some of the most beautiful I've ever read, even when he writes of terrible things. The film, though a good movie, just didn't capture the glorious style of his writing. I missed the book.

Polly McCrillis said...

Out of Africa, by Baroness Karen von Blixen, aka, Isak Dinesen was a gorgeous film adaptation of her book. The book is fine on its own, but seeing the land and the wildlife on a big screen is a visual feast.

Cheryl Norman said...

All good examples. Thanks for posting.