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:
- 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?