8 Book Adaptations that are [almost] perfect movie adaptations
The eternal debate – Books vs Movies. Or the eternal debate of book adaptions and whether they’re done right.
What do I say about this, how do I start. Let me start with a common meme that bugs that heck out of me:
No doubt you’ve seen this plenty of times. Most bookworms claim that movies are imitations and don’t even come close to the awesome value of the original book. To that, I have an answer. There are some movies, and there are some other movies. You getting me? No?
Basically, if done right, a movie can be a true book adaptation – and perhaps even be better than the book.
So, which are those movies? And, are these movies just faithful adaptations of the book, or do they accurately capture the story in the books, or perhaps, the movie is even better the book?
1. Empire Of The Sun
A hidden gem from Steven Spielberg, Empire of the Sun is a movie that follows the tale of a British child who is captured, separated from his family and put in a prison camp; an aftermath of the Singapore invasion.
The movie is excellent. Even though he was just 13 years old in Empire of the Sun, Christian Bale’s acting is refined and excellent. He plays the lead character who suffers in the Japanese Prison.
The tale in the book is much more brutal and bloody. However, the movie is a PG 13 movie and by and large stays away from any brutality.
Yet, one can’t deny how good the movie is. Empire of the Sun is able to capture the struggle of the lead character in the prison.
2. The Shawshank Redemption
Shawshank Redemption definitely enhances the story from Stephen King’s novella – Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption. How did the movie enhance Stephen King’s story? Look no further than the powerful acting of Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman. Their presence in the movie gives emotional depth to the story which is more profound than the story.
3. The Shining
Stephen King didn’t like Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. With Jack Nicholson playing the lead role, this is a faithful adaptation of the book. Kubrick experimented with genres and always brought something new to the table. On one level, The Shining is a story about an evil spirit inhabiting the Overlook Hotel. On another, it is a story about a man going insane as he struggles with the pressures of life. There are parts of The Shining that rip the audience with horror and there are many other parts that are just eerily creepy.
The movie fails to stay true to the book when it does not give sufficient explanation for the supernatural occurrences. In fact, if you are looking for a better understanding of the evil spirit and the powers that Danny Torrance (the son) and Dick Hallorann have, you should definitely read the book. Oh, and the book has a different ending, one that you may like more than the film.
4. Lord of the Rings
To LOTR fans, it seemed like an impossible task to make a movie on such an epic tale. However, Peter Jackson has proven it can be done. But – the movies deviate plenty of times from the book.
You can read about the in-depth changes between the books and movies on the LOTR Wikia. Some changes were required to make the story crisper, some characters were removed because they didn’t move the story forward, and there were elements of Hollywood-isation of the story (like the focus on Aragorn and Arwen’s love story). But – no one can deny that these are exciting movies, and probably the most epic movies you’ll ever see.
Peter Jackson’s LOTR movies are the best adaptation of the books and I can say (no, I am not going down a sinkhole of debate) it’s damn near perfect adaptation.
All of these other movies pale in comparison to the adaption of Godfather. The Godfather is not just a perfect adaption of a book. Francis Coppola, Al Pacino, and Marlon Brando convert the book into a much more enigmatic story.
This is done from the very beginning of the movie.
The movie starts with The Godfather scratching a cat. This was neither there in the book nor the screenplay. Francis Coppola saw a stray cat, decided to bring it on the set and give it to Marlon Brando, just like that. Today, it fits perfectly in and says something about The Godfather.
Another example is the bloody horse’s head in the movie. While it happens exactly as the book presents it, the visual and sound medium are used to their fullest. It’s simply a shocking scene and the book didn’t even communicate the same level of intensity as in the movie.
6. Fight Club
There is no chance in hell that we’re missing Fight Club in this list. David Fincher’s Fight Club is a faithful adaptation of the book, but it’s far from accurate. The experiences of Tyler Durden are quite different in the book and the movie. For example, book-version Tyler Durden is pretty much on a chaotic and destructive streak with no specific agenda in mind, however, movie Tyler Durden has a very clear anti-capitalist agenda.
So – the core of Fight Club carries over to the movie, but there are plenty of differences between the movie and book. Yet, all in all, it’s a faithful version and you can’t deny that Brad Pitt and Edward Norton freaking kill it in their roles.
7. The Hannibal Movie Series
As an audience, we are very fixated on serial killers, even though the reality is that serial homicides are extremely rare. So, no doubt the tale of an imprisoned serial killer helping the law enforcement capture other serial killers makes for quite a thrilling tale.
While the movies are faithful adaptations of the books, the films seem to heighten the love angle between Hannibal Lecter and Clarice Starling. In the books, however, Clarice Starling has an uneasy respect that grows for Hannibal, one that is not romantic, rather, she grows to respect Hannibal’s methodology of living. You’ll have to read the book to make sense of that.
Oh, and of course, there is no way in hell that the book can match the performance of Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter.
I can’t deny that Troy takes a lot of liberties from its source material, The Iliad, to tell a more action-packed movie with less philosophy and conflict than the book. But, even so, there’s no freaking denying, this is an awesome movie.
If you’ve read the book, you’ll be disappointed at how shallow Troy is. Yet, if you love ancient, epic movies – this is one which the likes of which hasn’t seen before.
Well, there are plenty of fish in the sea and this kinda of list can go and on. A book adaption is not easy, but these 8 movies got something right.