Books into Film and TV – Oh, joy!

Cover: Touching the voidDespite the tendency of film makers to mess books up in the transition to the screen there have been many successes. Here are two of my favourites, one old and one more recent.

Perhaps my favourite move of all times remains Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 a space odyssey. This perhaps might be considered a cheat: the idea for 2001 came from a short story The Sentinel by Arthur C Clarke. It is an excellent short story and well worth reading as are Clarke’s other shorts. The library has many collections of his short stories. Of course, the movie grew bigger and bigger and the story provides only the central segment. While Kubrick was filming the movie Clarke wrote the book 2001: a space odyssey.

It is just not as good at the movie although it may clear up a few points if you were confused by the movie’s more enigmatic moments. Of course, I first saw 2001 as you could never see it again: in full widescreen at the Cinerama, at age 10 and blown away by the music and the visuals. Most directors would be lucky to get one big WOW! visual moment in a movie; Kubrick has a whole movie full of them. Perhaps 2001 will seem slow if you are expecting to see a fast cut action sci-fi adventure but if you are willing to go with the flow it remains one of the greatest.

More recently I saw Touching the void and then I read the book. This is the story of Joe Simpson’s terrible accident on Siula Grande in South America and his survival against all odds. Both movie and book are excellent; the book takes you into Joe’s mind but the documentary vividly shows the pain and horror of his situation  I left the film festival screening with sore stomach muscles from the tension, despite seeing Joe Simpson himself talking about the events. Here is an example of a great story, told simply and accurately, allowing the drama of the situation to be the focus of the film. Book and movie offer complementary delights, the best of all worlds.

Tell us your favourite book-to-movie successes! Need inspiration? Check out the library’s page on Books into film & television. More film stuff on our Film webpage and Read the Book — then see the film.

One thought on “Books into Film and TV – Oh, joy!

  1. Michael A 6 August 2010 / 1:40 pm

    Good calls! 2001 probably my favourite of all time but I struggle to convince any of my family that it is worth the effort (although one son has taken a liking to the soundtrack). Touching the Void was stunning and, like Man on Wire, although you knew the end the tension was electric. Damn fine film-making.

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