Monday, March 28, 2011

From Paper to Film

More often than not, a film adaptation of a book ends up falling short. The original format tends to be richer in almost every facet. Characters, plot, setting...the book version of a story tends to be so much better than its cinematic counterpart. Usually, a film adaptation is a big letdown, but in many ways it's not a fair comparison. Stuff in books doesn't always work in the movies and vice versa.

Despite this phenomena, there are several examples of films that either equaled or were even better the bookly origins.

Book: Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption, a short story by Stephen King 
Movie: The Shawshank Redemption
This movie really is one of my favorites. Through darkness and horror, the movie gives such a strong and compelling message of friendship and hope. I don't think it did that well in theaters. In fact, I've never met anyone that actually saw it at the cinema. Like so many others, I discovered this gem of a movie on VHS. There's also ton of scientific evidence that the prison where they filmed (Ohio State Reformatory) is super haunted!

Book: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, by Philip K. Dick
Movie: Blade Runner
Cyberpunk at its finest. The book is excellent in every way, so this is not a knock on the novel at all. I remember that the cover was really risque. It had a robot having sex with a woman. But the film starring Harrison Ford is incredible! And I liked the "darker" ending in the director's cut version. Despite becoming a huge star as Han Solo, Ford cemented his career as a true actor by playing the character of Deckard.

Book: Forrest Gump by Winston Groom
Movie: Forrest Gump
Maybe I'm just being a sentimental idiot here, but I thought the character of Forrest Gump in the novel wasn't nearly as loveable as Forrest Gump in the film. In the movie, Forrest was the hero you cheered for. Despite having a low I.Q., the man knew "what love is." But in the book, not so much. In the movie, could you imagine Jenny dumping Forrest because she didn't like him being a professional wrestler? Yeah, me neither.

Book: The Princess Bride, by William Goldman
Movie: The Princess Bridge
This is one of my all time favorite movies EVER! It's a "hot" fairy tale, and although I find Fred Savage a little irritating, the film translated so well on the big screen. I have to say, it's better than the book. The book does go into a little more detail (particularly about the giant Fezzik). And it was great to see how all of the character's names are actually spelled. But this movie has the greatest sword fight scenes in cinema, romance, tons of action, humor, and Andre the Giant.

Book: The Body, a novella by Stephen King
Movie: Stand By Me
Once again, this movie is up there in my Top 5. Maybe I'm a Rob Reiner fan, as he also brought The Princess Bride to the silver screen. This coming of age movie was so fantastic, and the characters are incredibly believable and vivid. Why is this movie so cool? River Phoenix's earth-shattering performance, bad-ass Kiefer Sutherland, and of course blogger extraordinaire Wil Wheaton. The novella is great too, and I remember reading it in middle school. But the movie expands the story and is really much better.


delmer said...

Shawshank is one of my favorites as is The Princess Bride.

Forrest Gump is one of those movies that I wanted to immediately see again after I saw it in the theater. I've yet to see it that second time. (I was the same way with Cousins.)

T.S. Bazelli said...

Seems like Stephen King books have a good track record at the movies. I can't count the number of times I've watched the Princess Bride ;)

Anonymous said...



Great picks...out of those choices, I think by my above quote, the answer is obvious what is my fave.

- E.J. Apostrophe

Jay Noel said...

Delmer: Then go rent it this weekend!(Or download it)

T.S.: You're right. King's books have done pretty well as movies. Interested in seeing how the Dark Tower translates.

EL: "Stop it now, I mean it!"
"Anybody wanna peanut?"

cube said...

Liked them all except Forrest Gump. It may have something to do with my not being a Tom Hanks fan.

M Pax said...

I still adore the Princess Bride.

Jay Noel said...

Cube: I was a big tom Hanks fan up until he started spewing stuff about the war on Islamic Terrorism is just like our war in the Pacific. Whatever. My grandfather was in the Philippines and watched the Japanese slaughter US/Filipino men for fun. Tom Hanks needs to just make movies and shut up.

M Pax: I think most people do. You can say any one of its memorable lines out in public, and somebody somewhere is always going to know exactly where it's from.

Milo James Fowler said...

Totally agree about Blade Runner; the book was awful.

Totally disagree about Princess Bride; don't get me wrong, the movie's great -- but the book is freakin' AWESOME.

Mr. Shife said...

Very excellent choices and I have to agree with all of them. I am particularly fond of The Shawshank Redemption because I went to see it with no expectations and didn't even know what it was about only to be blown away by an awesome movie.

Jay Noel said...

Milo: I do really like the book. But the film brought the action to life. I will say; however, that Goldman created a new standard in how to write a sword fighting scene.

Jay Noel said...

Mr. Shife: I wish I could see that movie on the big screen. Well, except for the rape scene.

I hope you're having a great Spring Break!

Ian Montgomery said...

In the movie, could you imagine Jenny dumping Forrest because she didn't like him being a professional wrestler? Yeah, me neither.

No way. That really happened in the book? I have to read it now.

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