in random

abominable movie adaptations of books (via Kottke)

Jason Kottke has a list on his blog today of movie adaptations of books and which he has seen/read.

Personally, I have had too many horrible experiences of movie adaptations almost obliterating the beautiful mental imagery I had of favourite books.

So, who wants to make another list with me of movies adaptations where warnings should be given to anyone who has actually *read* the book that watching the movie will irrepairably alter their relationship with said book.

I’ll start: 1. The English Patient, 2. Possession, 3. Oscar & Lucinda ,4. Portrait of a Lady
Bring it on. (no, not the movie. That’s a call to action)

  1. Horrible adaptations:

    1984
    Catch 22
    Short Cuts
    The Long Goodbye
    The Great Gatsby
    Gangs of New York
    The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy
    The Bonfire of the Vantities
    Clockers
    Romeo Juliet (Baz Luhrman)
    High Fidelity
    Spy Game
    84 Charing Cross Road
    Total Recall
    The Name of the Rose
    Schindler’s List – Speilberg’s sentimentality is unbearable!

    Every adaptation of Thomas Hardy, ever,

    and of course, “Risk”. :(

    Adaptations where the movie improved on the book/story:

    The Right Stuff (Sam Shephard, yum)
    The Shining
    The Bourne Identity
    2001 – tedious tedious book, interesting movie
    Duel – not so great story, great directing debut
    Jaws – not terribly interesting as a book, very well directed film
    Gone With The Wind
    The Princess Bride
    Goodfellas
    The Verdict – bland story, elevated by Paul Newman
    Cool Hand Luke – ditto
    The Big Sleep (1946) – incomprehensible plot, but Bogart and Bacall!
    The Treasure of the Sierra Madre – more Bogart, from an unremarkable novel

    Movies where it wasn’t an improvement, exactly, but where the movie was suitably indelible all on its own:

    The Last Picture Show
    A Clockwork Orange
    One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest
    Pride and Prejudice (2005)
    All The President’s Men
    Wuthering Heights (1939) – Larry Olivier and Vivien Leigh, and has the grace to only tell the first half of the story
    The Unbearable Lightness of Being (really nowhere near as good as the book, but has some suitably impressive moments, and the advantage of tres gorgeous young Daniel Day Lewis).
    The Comfort of Strangers (1990)

  2. that’s an outstanding list, Rachel, and from what I’ve read/seen, I pretty much agree with you.

    Although, I have a bit of a soft spot for Short Cuts. (Didn’t know it was a book tho’)

    I notice you picked last year’s Pride & Prejudice over the Colin Firth (aka BBC) edition. Brave choice. (I know, v. Bridget Jones of me to bring that up… ah, and there’s another book/film… appalling, improvement? heh. No one will admit to reading/seeing it, I’m sure.)

    For me, Unbearable Lightness of Being belongs in the top (crapola) category.

    Now, where’s Melissa? I was sure she’d have strong opinions on this topic…

  3. “Short Cuts” was adapted from a series of Raymond Carver short stories. What’s interesting about Carver isn’t the events he writes about, so much as the *way* he does it.

    Although “So Much Water So Close to Home” is pretty good so far as the events side of things goes, and has inspired a whole bunch of other people to write songs and movies. Wow, that’s an astonishingly great story.

  4. Also, yeah, you’re right about “Unbearable Lightness of Being’ being fairly crap. It’s just that I have a terrible, terrible weakness for Daniel Day Lewis at that age. ;)

  5. One combination I’d put into your third group is ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ – the movie took a slice of the book, and turned the focus around a little, but I thought captured part of the essence of the Chie’f story, and was a hell of a movie on it’s own (OK – I’ll admit I’m a Nicholson fan!)

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