Book or movie, which one’s better?

When talking about movies based on novels, we usually hear the “the book’s better” line. But sometimes both stories are good, end even sometimes the movie is better than the book. Today I will write an example of each, and let’s see if you agree with them. [Warning: multiple SPOILERS included]

1. The books is better. Example: American Psycho.

If you have previously read the novel, it’s almost impossible that you like the movie. There are several reasons to consider this one a bad adaptation. For example:

Christian Bale en American Psycho

I look like a nice guy, right? RIGHT?!!!

– Patrick Bateman looks like a nice guy. This is very important in the novel, so much that you can’t understand the plot or the ending without the main character’s “good man” face. Christian Bale is a great actor, but he doesn’t look like a nice guy. So when you get to the film’s ending, and nobody believes him when he confess he’s a murderer, it’s hard to understand why, it makes no sense. The movie fails in this aspect, which is maybe the most important feature of the character in the book.
– Compared to the book, the crimes in the movie are almost “soft”. American Psycho is the only book I can remember that forced me to stop for a while when I was reading it, because I was feeling sick. To be able to roll this kind of scenes you would need a very talented director or a “gore” movie. What they did was changing the hardest and most sadisctic murders for a chain-saw scene, similar to the ones in those cheap eighties horror movies. Pathetic.
– Louis Carruthers was turned into a ridiculous caricature, the way Bateman talks about the bands he like makes him look crazier (instead of more normal, which is what the novel intended), the increasing frecuency of the killing is better in the novel… And I won’t say more. Just read the book, it’s great.

Other examples usually quoted: Dune, Charlie and the chocolate factory, I am legend.

2. Both are worth it. Example: The Fight Club.

Fincher’s movie is, nowadays, one of the biggest “cult” movies in the world. Many people (me included) have watched it multiple times, and quote their famous lines very often. But the novel is not bad either. Durden is not so good (in my opinion) as Pitt’s role, but Marla is way more cynical and funny than the character played by Helena Bonham-Carter (I love the way she accepts the main character’s multiple personality, something that never happens in the movie). The novel’s ending is disturbing and leaves you with a certain unease, while the movie’s is way more spectacular and visual. They are both good. The most relevant parts of the story are there in both versions, and both Fincher’s direction and Palanhiuk’s writting style give the story the right speed. I recommend them both, in any order.

Other examples usually quoted: The name of the rose, A clockwork orange.

3. The movies is better. Example: Forrest Gump.

Ok, I’m cheating here. I didn’t read the complete “Forrest Gump” novel. However, some parts of its plot will surely make you agree with me when I say that the movie is better: Forrest (who’s almost 2 meters tall and weithgs more than 100 kg) goes to the space in a NASA mission, together with a monkey. When he comes back he’s kindapped by a cannibal tribe and lives with them for four years. He’s a chess champion (he’s got an odd autism form that makes him brilliant in a few tasks), he’s a stunt double in hollywood… The movie is very good at making us believe that some very unlikely succesful stories for Forrest are possible, but everything has a limit. Also, the autism part would have made Forrest (even more) similar to the character played by Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man, something that would have probably been a big failure.

Other examples usually quoted: Jaws, Blade Runner.

And what about you? Which movies would you include in this post?

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    4 thoughts on “Book or movie, which one’s better?

    1. Aun a riesgo de ir contracorriente, el nombre de la rosa me pareció una excelente película y un tostonazo de libro, solo para lucimiento de su autor pero extremadamente aburrido en muchos pasajes, tanto es así que no me dio la gana de leer las 10 últimas páginas. El padrino, ambos merecen la pena, y a mi personalmente Forrest Gump me pareció mucho mejor el libro que la película, la película un palnfleto americano muy edulcorado, el libro una mordaz crítica, con un humor mucho más ácido que la peli. Ejemplos hay muchísimos, el señor de los anillos, un trabajo excelente en la adaptación al cine, igual que la guía del autoestopista galáctico…

      1. Interesante. A mí la novela sólo me pareció aburrida en las dos o tres discusiones en latín que Umberto Eco decidió no traducir ni con una nota al pie. Por lo demás, me pareció muy buena (y una buena adaptación). La guía del autoespita galáctico coincido en que fue una buena adpatación, aunque creo que aun así no llega al nivel del libro. El Padrino no me lo leí, pero le tengo ganas al libro. Un saludo gatoweb!

    2. A mi la adaptacion de la Guia del Autoestopista me pareció aburridísima, no me esperaba que fuera tan buena como el libro ni de lejos, pero tan poco tan mala.

      Otra pelis mejores que el libro: Reporte Minoritario, Total Recall. Cualquier película basada en cuentos de Philip K. Dick.

      El Señor de los Anillos, la versión cinematográfica es impresionante, pero el libro es aún mejor.

      De acuerdo acerca de Dune (malísima la peli) y La Naranja Mecánica (muy buenas y muy distintas las dos). Los demás ejemplos no puedo opinar porque sólo vi o lei una versión, o ninguna de las dos.

      Algunos ejemplos de libros que superan a la adaptación en cine que se me ocurren ahora: Farenheit 451, 1984, El Conde de Montecristo, Harry Potter.


      1. A mí la película de la Guía del Autoestopista tampoco me pareció TAN mala (no llega al nivel del libro, eso sí que está claro). En cuanto a Philip K. Dick, parece haber cierto consenso con sus novelas. Se ve que tenía buenas ideas pero no era muy bueno narrándolas.

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