Should books really be made into movies?

Holidays are the perfect time for going to the movies and I’ve certainly seen my fair share of them lately.  There does seem to be a bit of a glut at the moment of movies based on books – Lovely Bones, Where the Wild Things Are, and Sherlock Holmes, just to name a few.  There seems to be a fine line between getting a movie adaptation right and hashing it up completely, and even then the success of the movie in your eyes comes down to how you imagined the characters, setting and message of the book.

In my opinion, Spike Jonze did a great job of making the movie of Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are.  Although he transformed a picture book into a 2 hour movie, I think the essence of the book was definitely there and the boy that played Max (who is also called Max) was fantastic.  A lot of parents took their children along thinking this was a children’s movie but was more a movie about childhood and what it means to be a kid.  I’d love to know what children actually thought of the movie.

Another movie adaptation that is a children’s story but will appeal more to an adult sense of humour is Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr Fox.  It’s directed by Wes Anderson whose movies are usually great but I thought this one fell flat.  I really liked the animation though and it was good to see an animated movie that wasn’t CGI like so many children’s movies lately.  Unfortunately a lot of the humour in the movie would go straight over the heads of the children in the audience.

One movie that was relatively faithful to its literary origin was Stieg Larsson’s  The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  I had literally just finished reading the book an hour before I saw the movie so the story was fresh in my mind.  I totally loved the book and still can’t get it out of my head, so I was a little reluctant to watch the movie but went knowing that it had been made in Stieg Larsson’s native Sweden, not in Hollywood.  As with any movie they missed out lots of little details but overall it stuck to the story quite closely and the actors and scenery were amazing.  It’s definitely one of those stories though that you want to read the book before you see the movie so you can enjoy both in their own right.

Do you have a favourite movie adaptation and did it live up to your expectations?

11 thoughts on “Should books really be made into movies?

  1. Donna 11 January 2010 / 4:41 pm

    Sometimes I’m too scared to see movies for that reason, it’s awful when a favourite is massacred, eviscerated or otherwise tampered with and made ugly.

    I didn’t see the movie version of Atonement for a long time, but was mightily impressed by how beautiful it was. I think The English Patient movie was magic too.

    Of all the many Jane Austen adaptations, I particularly love Persuasion. It had a bit of dirt and grit, lacked saccharine and had wonderful actors Ciaran Hinds and Amanda Root as the hero and heroine.

    • Nickie 13 January 2010 / 1:48 pm

      Totally agree, Donna. I recently watched “My Sisters Keeper” by Jodie Picoult. Fabulous book, horrendous Movie. Cameron Diaz cast as the mother was totally unbelievable.. and they changed the ending completely!

  2. lynne 11 January 2010 / 6:00 pm

    Sometimes the subject matter is just not suitable for a movie. I loved the book “Bee season” about a little girl competing in a spelling bee, but as a movie it was just nothing, too subtle to be really portrayable on screen.

  3. Michael A 12 January 2010 / 8:53 am

    I’m a “Girl with the dragon tattoo” fan and thought the movie was true to the story and in some ways better. They had removed the self-satified irresistable-to-women flavour of the Mikhael character and made him not particularly attractive. What was lost was the context in which the story moved – the relationship with the editor, the politics of Sweden, the tale of the Millenium newspaper – not necessary to move the story along but ultimately some of the detail that makes the book(s) special and satisfying. I suspect that if you saw the movie first you may wonder what all the fuss is about as regards the books.

  4. Michael A 12 January 2010 / 8:57 am

    …as for Lovely Bones. I haven’t read the book but the movie has certainly not inspired me to pick it up. The movie was visually attractive but the story was too much about Susie in the afterlife and not enough about the family. In the end I felt very distanced from them and found it hard to really care for anyone other than the sister Lindsay who I think gave the best performance.

  5. rachaelccl 12 January 2010 / 12:24 pm

    I’m too scared to see the movie adaption of Inkheart – I just don’t see how you could make a book about books be a convincing film.

    • zackids 12 January 2010 / 4:54 pm

      I’ve seen it and it was really quite bad! Casting Brendan Fraser as Mo has to have been the worst casting decision ever and Andy Serkis as Capricorn was very weak. I was curious because I loved the book but really shouldn’t have bothered.

  6. tewp 12 January 2010 / 3:26 pm

    The longstanding truth is that bad books make good movies (Mario Puzo’s clodhopping “Godfather” was turned into a very memorable film while many of the classics have been turned into bad movies. In recent years the television adaptations have been better as they have had the time to capture the flavour of the book.
    Going to those lovely old bones, the most irritating part of this novel was all the heaven carryon and the best part was the quite truthful way the family fell apart and came back together. Peter Jackson apparently liked his heaven wallpapers too much and managed to take out some of the real stuff about the family while playing up the killer who was not, in the end, a major player in the book.

  7. Film terms 26 January 2010 / 7:44 am

    A certain magic happens when you get the right crew and director with the right story. There has to be some sort of unconscious understanding of the material and universal timing – there just aint no formula for these things no matter how hard a studio tries.

  8. Shower Cubicle · 4 November 2010 / 8:46 am

    the visual effects of inkheart is really great, but i the visual of effects of Transformers is the best ::

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