Monday, September 15, 2014

Monday Musings: Film Adaptations of Books

Do you get excited for the Film Adaptations of your favorite books? 

Did you think that The Giver movie was maybe a little too "Hollywood" for your liking?

Whether we like that our favorite books are turned into movies, they tend to do well. Otherwise, why would Hollywood keep taking the hottest books for source material. I personally don't mind when a great book gets made into a film. It's not like they made the movie and therefore the book is suddenly no longer available. Just because the story has been interpreted in a new medium doesn't negate the original source material. If you hate the film then just don't pay attention to it anymore, just reread the original book that made you fall in love with the characters and story in the first place.

I think that as long as we don't expect the film adaptation to be 100% like the original book story then we won't be as disappointed. We have to acknowledge that a 2-hour movie cannot include everything from our favorite 500-page novel. And we also have to know that some of the more subtle story points cannot be interpreted well onto the screen. But that's alright, because a good story is always a good story. Even a bad film interpretation can't take that away.
(And let's not forget the great movies that we got out of some of our favorite books: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Lord of the Rings, The Hunger Games)

I also often hear conversations about how Hollywood is becoming lazy with the fact that most of it's movies are based on books and comics and remakes of older classic films. However, there are a lot of old movies that were based on books, we just didn't know it:

Who Framed Roger Rabbit was based on Who Censored Roger Rabbit? by Gary K Wolf.

Mrs. Doubtfire was based on Anne Fine's Alias Madame Doubtfire.

Forrest Gump was based on Forrest Gump by Winston Groom

Die Hard is based on the 1979 book Nothing Lasts Forever by Roderick Thorp

Cruel Intentions was based on Les Liaisons dangereuses by Choderlos de Laclos (published in 1782)

Goodfellas was based on the 1986 novel Wiseguy by Nicholas Pileggi

Stand by Me based on The Body by Stephen King

Blade Runner came from Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep

Starship Troopers was based on the 1959 book Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein

Field of Dreams was based on Shoeless Joe by W.P. Kinsella.

Shawshank Redemption was based on Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption by Stephen King

Do you like the movie adaptations of your favorite books?


  1. I almost universally love film adaptations of well written novellas like The Body and Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption. They're probably my favorite page to screen adaptations because the film makers have room to add details and nuance instead of stripping it away.

    In actual novel or book to screen adaptations, it's more of a crap shoot. No adaptation is going to be 100% faithful (unless it's a Pride & Prejudice mini-series, lol) but sometimes it's like the filmmaker doesn't understand the spirit of the book.

    The pivotal thing is whether the screenwriter is still telling the same story. You can leave out details here and there and still stay true to the characters, plot and themes. As long as they remember they're adapting the format and not the actual story, everything will be fine.

    My biggest problem with film adaptations and the thing that I find pretty much unforgivable? White-washing. When a studio takes a character that is very clearly not white in the book and casts a white actor, that will generally ruin the film adaptation for me every time.

    1. Ani, you bring up great points. I agree, if the film makers don't understand the heart of the original source material then they will ultimately fail in the movie adaptation. A story is not just plot or even all just about the characters, it is the heart and if that is missing then it's not the same story.

      I also agree, the whitewashing of stories is a huge no-no in my book. It's why we have #WeNeedDiverseBooks in the first place. So, it sucks when our wonderful diverse characters get white-washed in the film adaptations.

      Also, love your point about novellas, I didn't even think about that, but maybe that's why those stories are so fun to watch. The new interpretation of short stories is always fun to see. :)