Thursday, July 1, 2010


Have you ever fallen in love with a wonderfully written book, only to be devastated by a movie version thereof? This has happened to me more times than I care to count. Too often a literary masterpiece is completely ruined by its movie version. What’s worse, though, is that people who disliked the movie refuse to read the book… because the movie sucked! These same people then go on to talk smack about the book which they never touched, thinking they are qualified to speak on the subject because they’ve seen the disaster of a movie. This never fails to get on my nerves.

When you ask someone “Have you read this book?” and they respond by saying “No, but I’ve seen the movie”, couldn’t you just happily bash them over the head with the book in question? I certainly could have if I didn’t have such vast respect for words in print. When will some people learn that you simply cannot compare the two?!

One of my favourite books is Nicholas Sparks’ A walk to remember. I have read this book more times than any other, and it quite simply never gets old. The movie version is pretty good, but not as good as the book. Too many important details of the book (big and small) were altered in the movie version. There was one change that especially saddened me. My favourite moment in the book is when Jamie gives Landon her Bible. In the movie version she gives him her mother’s old notebook, but not before joking “Don’t worry, it’s not a Bible”. Was that really necessary?! And the best part, the irony of it all is that the movie version of A walk to remember does not even feature the walk to remember!!! It is the most remarkable moment in the book when Jamie gets up out of her wheelchair and walks down the isle towards Landon. That is the walk to remember! She is sick, weak and tired, and even though it takes quite a while, Jamie walks down the isle. In the movie, she’s perfectly fine and practically dances down the isle. A walk to remember? Not quite! (I do feel the need to mention, though, that I love Mandy Moore as Jamie and Shane West as Landon. They really brought this incredible love story to life, and I enjoyed watching him help her make all her wishes come true) All in all, the movie version is respectable, but I would still encourage you to read the book instead of watching the movie.

The book

The movie

Then there’s The Wedding Date by Elizabeth Young. The only thing the book and the movie have in common is the title. In the movie Kat hires Nick (in the book they're called Sophy and Josh), an escort, to pose as her boyfriend at her sister's wedding. In the book he was never really an escort! Why make a movie based on a book if you’re going to change every little thing? Based on the novel by Elizabeth Young? I don’t think so. I’d be insulted if I were Liz! Well, okay, to be fair the book was initially called Asking for trouble and was changed to The Wedding Date after the success of the movie, so it's not quite fair to just bash the movie for changing things.

The book originally

The book now

The movie

The only movie I have ever seen that was an excellent (and I do mean excellent) adaptation of the book is the 2004 movie version of William Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice starring the very talented Al Pacino as Shylock. What a performance that was! His deliverance of the celebrated "Hath not a Jew eyes" speech is one of my favourite moments in movie history. I ardently adore this adaptation. Sadly, this can’t be said of most movie adaptations of beloved literary works.

The book

The movie

If I were to start describing the differences between movies and the books they are based on, this blog entry would never end. I do believe that my three examples have made my point. The book and the movie might be similar. The book and the movie might be different as night and day. In a rare case, the movie might even do the book justice… but you will never know if you watch the movie and never read the book.

Don’t get me wrong. Even though I am usually disappointed by a movie adaptation of a book, at the end of the day I am grateful for movies inspired by books. Many a movie has made a person go into a bookstore looking for the book a particular movie is based on. Maybe they even ended up buying more than one book! J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series and Stephenie Meyer's Twilight saga are recent book series that have made children rush to libraries and bookstores after the success of its movie versions. If a movie inspires only one person to pick up a book and discover the magic of reading, then that movie is alright with me… even if it does butcher the original (in my humble opinion).

My point, my friends, is this: Never judge a book by its movie.

Happy reading!

1 comment:

  1. The upsetting thing is that the authors have no input on how their creations turn out when they hit the big screen. So many times they've been interviewed after a bad movie release, saying that they ASKED the director to take the movie in a particular direction but he knew better and completely deviated from the original story. There's nothing they can do as they sell the film rights to any idiot who claims to be a producer.

    From my point of view, I get equally angry when they start doing a game/movie/comic book conversion, from one to the other. They destroyed Daredevil, massacred The Hulk, and turned Spider-man into a sissy; the only passable film was Iron Man. Any video game based on a film is also known to be just as dismal. WHY can't people get it right?

    There's a German director named Uwe Boll who is INFAMOUS for his awful game-to-movie conversions. House of the Dead, Bloodrayne, Far Cry and Alone in the Dark have all received scores below 10% thanks to this moron.

    I promise you this: if I ever write a best-seller, the only people allowed to direct it will be Peter Jackson and Steven Spielberg. Maybe Jon Favreau.


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