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.
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 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.
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.