ASSOCIATES (2014, March, v. 20, no. 3)

Feature

Books made into films. Which one/s do you think are good, OK and not so good?

To Kill a Mockingbird has always been a favourite of mine both as a book and as a movie. I think the movie was true to the book and captured the time and place well. The casting was excellent, it was like the book was written for Gregory Peck to take the part of Atticus Finch.

Jennifer Johnson
Guilford Young College

Books to movies that I think are great across the board:
1) The Exorcist
2) Ghost Story
3) Brokeback Mountain
They remain faithful to each other.

Waide Riddle
West Hollywood, Ca.

I think the first Hunger Games film was very well done and enjoyed that as much as I enjoyed reading the book. I have not seen Catching Fire yet so I can’t comment on that one, though I have read all three books in the trilogy.

I also think the Harry Potter films were as well done as the books.

Linda Lemery

GOOD books into films
Life of Pi
Little Women (1994 version)
The Help

NOT SO GOOD
The Scarlet Letter (1995)

Jacki Betsworth
DeWitt Wallace Library, Macalester College.

I would have to say the 2009 film adaptation of Alan Moore’s graphic novel, The Watchmen. It was an excellent adaptation considering the length and complexity of the material. Great acting, great directing, the script stayed faithful to the story almost verbatim save for the ending. Alan Moore has often stated his disdain for Hollywood and in this case, his anger may be justified: the movie ending seemed more fitting than the original. Although creativity points can be given for Mr Moore’s “alien squid” ending in the book, it seemed random in context with the rest of the storyline.

Kim Barbato
Gould Law Library, Touro College.

2 books that I thought we poorly made into movies were City of Ember and Eragon.

City of Ember and its sequels are such powerful books and I didn’t feel the movie captured the essence of the book and I felt it was “cheesy” in some aspects. I thought it was a low budget movie for a book that is really good.

Eragon had the special effects, a good cast, followed the book to a certain extent, but then the movie ended completely wrong and would not segue correctly if they were to make a movie of the next book in the quartet. It was very disappointing.

Lori Salotto
Middleboro Public Library

The best movie adaptation: The Hours (Michael Cunningham) because I cried just as long during the book as I did at the movie. Ask anybody that was there.

The good movie adaptation: The Birds (Daphne du Maurier) because one does not enhance the other but both in their own right are thought-provoking.

The worst film adaptation: Lord of the Rings (JRR Tolkien) because it obliterated forever my mind’s rendering of Middle Earth.

Julie Mielke
Serials Assistant
William Mitchell College of Law
St. Paul, MN

My favorite film of all is Cold Comfort Farm which I think is better than the book though the book is enjoyable. The book, The Rabbi’s Cat, one ofy most favorite of all books, is more enjoyable than the film though the film has wonderful music and, since the book is a graphic novel, the film is great in that there are all these scenes you see as separate panels in the books and in the film, they move continuously!

Helen Chuckrow

If I’ve read the book or seen the film, I usually regret following up by seeing the film or reading the book. Films necessarily condense books. They can make a mediocre book better than it is, or a great book a shadow of itself. Or stories can be changed beyond recognition.

Dr Zhivago – beautiful film about two star-crossed lovers. Then I read the book. Our “hero” turned out to be just another serial womanising sleazebag.

Bridget Jones Diary – very funny film, the book not so. In the book, the film jokes were padded out by a lot of waffle and unfunny situations.

I love Ian Rankin’s books. If film includes TV, the second Rebus series had the main character extremely well cast in Ken Stott but the stories were barely recognisable.

Margaret Callinan
Library Technician
Austin Hospital
Heidelberg VIC

Too easy. Gone with the wind was a great book & a great movie.

Erica Mayhew

I love the Harry Potter movies. I also love the Lord of the Rings movies, both the recent trilogy as well as the earlier animated version of the first two books. All three of these did a wonderful job of adapting well-beloved books to the big screen.

Jennifer A. James

I thought I would put a nomination forward for the book to movie. The Help was a wonderful adaption from book to film. I had read the book long before it became a movie so had many concerns about how it would turn out. I love movies almost as much as I love books and was delighted when The Help was so true to the book, I was not disappointed and I did not think it disrespected the book or the author.

Allison Winchester

The last four films I have seen have been ‘based on’ true events – and three followed books. Not sure if the other, ‘American Hustle’, has a book and I am not interested in reading it – the only thing that I found fascinating about this movie was how, after finding none of the characters sympathetic and being quite bored for most of the way through the film, towards the end I suddenly started to be engaged and care about what happened. Pity it didn’t happen earlier but intriguing that it did.

Of the other three, I have subsequently read books that preceded two. I don’t know how available the source book for ’12 Years a Slave’ is and I am not entirely sure I want to read it, but I was totally engaged by the movie. Pretty grueling watching it though.

The two films that I saw, and then read the books on which they were based, ‘Philomena’ and ‘The Railway Man’ were both excellent films and it was interesting to find, on reading the books, that in both cases, the book was a ‘starting point’ for the film; that not all that is in the film is to be found in the book.

After seeing ‘Philomena’ I was so interested in finding out more about it that I couldn’t wait to get to the shops to see if the book was available, but immediately bought the e-book – which I really enjoyed, but now wish I had bought the actual book because I would like to be able to recommend and lend it out [something that is not so easy with e-books] as it is well-written, enjoyable and extremely interesting. I think those responsible for the film made a good choice about what they put in it, as it would not have been as intriguing or compelling if they had just filmed the book, which was more about the life of Philomena’s Lost Son, rather than her search to find him, but I was pleased to be able to find out more about his life.

The film ‘The Railway Man’ does follow the book more closely but the film makers have selectively high-lighted and ‘interpreted’ events to better convey the effect on Eric Lomax of what he experienced. It had the effect for me of the book complementing the film; of ‘rounding’ it out. I found watching the film quite grueling in parts and was amazed when reading the book that Lomax managed to live a relatively normal life afterwards, despite the lack of support for returning soldiers, especially those who endured torture and extreme deprivation.

So both of these movies get a tick but I think that is largely because I saw the movie first and read the book later. Possibly this is always the best order – reading a book is a ‘partnership’ between author and reader with the reader supplying their own experiences and making their own interpretation; so if the film makers have a different reading, or, for dramatic purposes, ‘reinterpret’ the book, the viewer who has read the book before seeing the film may be disappointed.

Judy Allan
Library Technician
Legal Aid Western Australia
Perth WA

Good : The Lord of the Rings & the Hobbit 1 & 2
I was quite impressed with how they managed to pull out a coherent story out of very difficult detailed material that engaged you through three films. I went in expecting a lot of changes as you expect with Book adaptations and was very pleasantly surprised.

Okay ?:
None come to mind at the moment. I usually go in with the attitude that they can’t film the book cover to cover as written and there are going to be changes to make it flow and engage the audience.

The Ugly : The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Gouge : The film “The Secret of Moonacre”
This was and is still my favourite book. Was very disappointed in the film. To many changes for modern audiences for my taste. Would be a lovely story for people who had not read the book.

Fiona Young
Library Technician
Allens
Brisbane QLD

Two of my favourite Hollywood book adaptations are The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and The Book Thief. I think they brilliantly captured the essence of the original books and even managed to improve certain aspects. However, in my opinion, nothing can compete with BBC book adaptations miniseries.

Joanna Curtis

I don’t recall ever seeing a movie made from a book that was as good as the book. The pictures in my mind were much better than those on the screen.

Diann Cullen
Cataloging Technician
Boulder Labs Library
Boulder, CO

One of my all-time favorites books made into a film is “To Kill a Mockingbird”.
I believe that despite changing some of the story the film stayed true to the book.
The portrayal of a court battle for justice in a small southern town as seen through the eyes of a child is moving and timeless.

Wilma L. Reeder
Serials Manager & Government Document Technician
Snowden Library – Lycoming College
Williamsport PA

Oh my goodness, what a good topic. And I spent way too much time thinking about it.

Movies-from-books that are good (well, decent):

A – A+
Gone With the Wind: The costumes, the scenery, the fire: All totally excellent. The choices made for actors/actresses: not at all bad. Scarlett & Rhett are great, Melanie & Ashley not so much, but not sure who might have been better. The book takes me away; the movie sweeps me away.

Scarlett: Pretty much a ditto. I really liked both.

The Help: The actors/actresses were well chosen and did an excellent job. Places were true to the story and the story true to the book.

Movies-from-books that are not-so-good:

F
Atonement: The scenery: Gorgeous. That’s the A or A+. I had not pictured, when I read, the house to be that gorgeous, the grounds so lush. It was a wonderful plus. The cast: Kiera Knightly did a great job, as did James McAvoy. The young Briony was fine. All Good.

Bad: Vanessa Redgrave is ‘way’ too fine an actress and person to play the old Briony. Redgrave is one of those actresses at the stage in her life/career where it is not always possible to get around being who she is to be someone lesser.

(The same situation more recent is Oprah Winfrey in Butler. All goes along just fine in the story of a poor young black man who gets hired in the White House (The White House!) until she walks on screen. We’re into him, who he is, his situation, then all of a sudden – “Wait a minute – he’s married to Oprah Winfrey???!!!???”)

Worse: Atonement the book leaves the central message to one’s imagination. What might a 1930s-era young man, British, say to his love if he were to throw all caution to the winds? I’m frankly not sure, and when reading the book, didn’t spend a lot of time worrying about it, other than to know whatever it was, was surely a word of its time and place. The movie suffers no such delicacy. He used a word immature, rude and uneducated males of the current proud-of-ignorance generation use and the producer/director of the movie. That word is shared with the audience as easily as tea is poured from the silver service, degrading the movie.

My Sister’s Keeper: This was the first Jodi Picoult book I saw/read, and it captivated me. She took a heartrending situation and made it human; she exposed sides of a dilemma I’d not thought about.

Then they made a movie about it, trivialized the whole thing and Changed The Ending. How low can moviemakers sink? I am waiting now for the next revision of Romeo and Juliet, in which the couple marries and lives happily ever after.

Jeanette Skwor
Cofrin Library, Serials Dept.

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