Monday, August 21, 2017

Movie Adaptations: It was the Best of Times

I'm not just a compulsive reader, I'm a fan of the screen both big and small. And let's face it - Hollywood starting running out of original ideas years ago.

I'd rant about the gross plagiarism running rampant in the movie industry right now but will save my disgust over the current influx of remakes for another day.


What does Hollywood do best? It adapts bestselling books into bestselling movies, of course. And today I'm talking about my favorites. Even the well done adaptations leave something to be desired; movies just cannot recreate the emotional bond a reader develops with the characters in a book.


But these few, in my opinion, came damn close:

 
The Princess Bride movie pulls dialogue directly from the book by William Goldman. But some stuff had to go for time: the chapters detailing the back stories of Inigo and Fezzik; along with the Zoo of Death (their rescue of the Dread Pirate Roberts involved more daring do than simply knocking the albino out). With those exceptions, this adaption is damn near dead-on-balls accurate [it's an industry term] but to be fare, the author was an Oscar-winning screenwriter who adapted it himself.

While I've always considered the adaptations of Stephen King's horror novels sub-par, the movies based on his dramatic works are excellent. Perhaps that has something to do with the fact his dramatic books and short stories are better than his horrors. Especially The Green Mile and Shawshank Redemption. *lets not overlook Stand By Me and Misery was a masterpiece thanks to Jimmy Caan and Kathy Baker*

I love all the Harry Potter books. Love all the Harry Potter movies. But as the books got more complex, the movies had to .... adapt. Prisoner of Azkhaban remains my favorite of the seven books but became the first of the movies to start leaving out details much to my heartbreak. The first movie, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, remains the truest to the book that introduced the world to the boy who lived.

I can watch the movie then enjoy the book, but I cannot do it in reverse. The book is always that much better and I can't help but point out all the things that are wrong [largely why adapations are so frustrating] including the characters NOT looking or sounding how I conjured them. The Silence of the Lambs is the only adapation where the actor completely embodies the character. Sir Hopkins is Hannibal Lecter.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was a challenge to read. Friends who had recommended it were true and honest when they told me to stick with it, it's worth it, once you get about a hundred pages in. They were right. It's like the remainder of the 600 page novel is a reward for not giving up. The movie adapation does a beautiful and brilliant job of cutting through the chaff but maintaining the nerve-tingling atmosphere the book's slow start provided. *plus it had Daniel Craig*

It would be unfair not to add honorable mentions for Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train. The adaptations for both were fairly true to their source material and kudos to the movie makers for not trying to make the "heroines" more palatable. But for reasons I can't put my finger on, the movies didn't engage me as much. Maybe because with these stories, once you get to THE END you're very much done with the characters.

Other book-to-movies that deserve a nod: Gary Sinise & John Malkovich in Of Mice and Men; One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest; and To Kill a Mockingbird.

Give me your suggestions for ones I've missed in the comments below and keep an eye out for the companion post - IT WAS THE WORST OF TIMES.


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