Forum Friday: Book vs. Film

Surely we have all watched a movie adapted from a book we enjoyed and either thought to ourselves, “Wow. They did that really well,” or “WHAT?!??”

Deviations from the original are only to be expected I think, but certainly some are more successful than others. I would like to open today’s forum to talk about film adaptations of books that have struck you– either for their loyalty or disloyalty to the book, the successes (or shortcomings) of changes made. Let us know what you liked and what you didn’t about the changes, cuts, or embellishments implemented in film, or what you respected/could appreciate as a storyteller even if they meant straying from the book.

I myself recently read Logan’s Run, and just watched the 70s film adaptation the other day. The degree of difference between the two was so steep that it altered the direction of the story and resulted in an ending entirely different from the one authors William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson originally envisioned. In fact, I have enough to say about book vs. movie on this one that I will be writing a separate post on it.

For now, tell us your take! …And enjoy some of the most popular results Google turned up for “book vs. movie”:

The Hunger Games
The Great Gatsby
The Lightning Thief
Never Let Me Go

8 responses to “Forum Friday: Book vs. Film”

  1. There’s two ways to look at this positively. One, it’s a retelling (different version of the same story). Two, books and movies operate in different time/space rules — one of which that your imagination has no budget or time limitations — so it’s an interesting to think about WHY the changes were made, and how it changed/preserved the story. Does it still hit the same emotional notes? Same jokes? Is a character likeable in the movie but not the book, or vice versa?

    1. Yes! Great point. When the film Logan’s Run started to diverge from the course set by the book I was admittedly critical at first, but then I started thinking about the reasons why certain changes were called for and I could appreciate the director’s decisions a bit more. It’s fun to think about how, in the same position, we might have endeavored to do things differently (and I emphasize *endeavored*, at least for my part…film is not my forte)! But more in my follow-up post to this.

      Thanks for a thoughtful response!

  2. The Captain Correlli’s Mandolin film adaption with Nicholas Cage has made me seethe angrily for years. Such a wonderful, wonderful book, and terrible, godawful movie.

    1. There’s one I’m not familiar with! Was there a particular element (a specific character or plot change, for example) that might have been responsible, or was the film just generally disloyal to the book?

      1. Generally just a vehicle for Nicholas Cage and Penelope Cruise, without much care about the story. The book is amazing and complex so it would be hard to make a movie out of, but… why such an awful movie 😦

        I didn’t like the Hunger Games movie much either. Mainly because they changed the ending where (SPOILERS) Katniss reveals she’s been exaggerating the whole in love thing, and Peta, though terribly cut, still supports her. Instead there’s an insipid, K: “I never want to go back.” P: “I do.” Cut to black… Tore a lot of the impact out the end.

        1. Yes…some books are so intricate they might be beyond the power of film or screen to adapt, or to adapt well, anyway, but probably as long as there is money in movies there will be people who try!

          I do wonder about the reasons for the changes they made to Hunger Games!

  3. I rarely watch films and haven’t owned a TV for years. BUT last Christmas I watched the 1935 b/w The Thirty Nine Steps and it was wonderfully evocative of the John Buchan novel that I’d read many years ago at school. ( I read however that the plot differed significantly).

    1. Isn’t it amazing when seeing a film adaptation can bring back memories of a story or book we’ve read, even years and years in the past? When I saw the more recent movie of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, I remember being amazed at my ability to remember/intuit what was going to happen next, and even marveling at portions of dialogue which, even after so much time, seemed for the life of me verbatim from the text!

      Even more impressive is when a film that has altered the plot to fit the format (as you were saying with The Thirty Nine Steps) can do this!

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