1. In your opinion, what is the best translation of a book to a movie?
2. The worst?
3. Had you read the book before seeing the movie, and did that make a difference? (Personally, all other things being equal, I usually prefer whichever I was introduced to first.)
And, by all means, expand this to as long a list as you like. I’m notoriously awful myself at narrowing down to one favorite ANYTHING. So, feel free to list as many “good” or “bad” movie-from-books as you like. (Heaven knows that’s what I’ll be doing….)
One of the best was Jane Austen’s Persuasion. I had seen the film before reading the book, but the film made me want to read the book, and I was delighted to find the film kept very closely to the book. I liked the film version of Sense and Sensibility much better than the book.
I loved the first Anne of Green Gables film, and I felt it was very close to the book. That film also inspried me to read the whole series of Anne books plus several other things L. M. Montgomery has written. The second film, Anne of Avonlea, strayed from the book but was still pretty good. The third, Anne of Green Gables, The Continuing Story, was a total disappointment. By this time I had read all the books and I thought the one about Anne’s first year of marriage was so sweet, and I hoped they would make a film of it. I know a film can’t capture every detail of a book, and there are some scenes of narration that might need to be acted out somehow, etc. — but when you basically just use the characters and the setting and then write your own story, that’s fanfic, not an adaptation. I get all frustrated and stirred up every time I think of this film too much, so let’s move on..
I thought the whole Lord of the Rings series was excellent. I had seen the first film without reading the book, and read the book afterward. Then with the second film I read the book first. Reading the book first enhances the understanding of what’s going on in the film, but it takes the edge off the anticipation of wondering what’s next. I tended to think more in terms of “how are they going to film this?” rather than what was coming next in the story. But seeing the film first made some of the book seem dull — I kept wanting to get to the scenes I had seen in the film. I did see the third film but haven’t read the book yet.
Les Miserables is a play or musical rather than a film, but I saw it on a video of the 10th anniversary of it. In that video it wasn’t acted out, but the characters were in costume and sang most of the songs. I had checked it out from the library when I saw it there on the shelves and decided to see what all the fuss was about. I fell in love with the gorgeous music and the story. But when I looked up the whole set of lyrics, there were some very vulgar places that made it so that I don’t think I could ever see the play in good conscience. I did read the book and loved it and want to read it again some time. It’s a wonderful story of love and redemption. I’m told it is hard to find a copy of the whole original book because there were long tedious parts in it about industrialization, etc., but the two abridged versions I read were wonderful and contained no vulgarity at all, even when dealing with Fantine’s profession. I did later see a film adaptation with Liam Neeson and Geoffrey Rush that I thought was truly awful.
I loved Little Women with Susan Sarandon and Winona Ryder. I saw a couple of older versions but I don’t remember much about them.
I thought the book The End of the Spear was much better than the film.
Probably several more examples are going to come to mind all through the day. 🙂