Books To Film #1

I do like seeing people’s thoughts on books that they have read and how they feel about them when they are turned into films. In fact I almost took part in the ‘Read The Book, See The Movie’ challenge that quite a lot of people seem to have participated in. I do find though that if I know one of my favourite books is going to be turned into a film I almost instantly take a certain dislike to it, I am currently building some dislike for the film version of ‘One Day’ before its even finished being made. There is occasionally the flipside when sometimes you watch a film and it’s as good as if not better than the book like for example the first book-to-film I am going to address today which is…

…‘Eclipse.’ You will probably know that I have had rather a rollercoaster ride with Stephenie Meyer’s works, I didn’t like the first but then saw the film version of ‘Twilight’ and was completely hooked, in fact I rushed to see both ‘New Moon’ and ‘Eclipse’ on the weekends they came out. I cannot explain this compulsion and I am not sure how I feel about it, ha. I think because I found the book so slow and the fact the movie really started from about page 350 in the book (where all the action begins) I enjoyed it more. The humour in the third film is at the forefront which I really liked and there are some great comic scenes between Edward and Jake, but there is also the endless longing and Bella (Kristen Stewart looks exactly like mt Aunty Caroline did at her age – spooky) wandering about in trees almost looking for danger or driving around advertising in a Volvo through mountains. Having said that its good escapist fun, though why did they change Victoria? 7/10

I think possibly the most beautiful and cinematic film I have watched in some time is ‘A Single Man’ which is Tom Ford’s directorial debut and his take on Christopher Isherwood’s marvellous book. I thought the imagery and the way it set that period of time was just wonderful. Colin Firth was absolutely superb as George a man dealing with the loss of his lover Jim in a world where being gay is not the most acceptable of lifestyles. Julianne Moore as Charley (a drunken fellow Brit) absolutely stole the show for me though, every scene with her in it seemed to have certain energy, but that’s also down to characters as Firth had to play a more restrained role in George. I thought both of them deserved Oscars and Ford certainly did. I saw ‘The Hurt Locker’ and was soooo disappointed, this cinematically is just beautiful. 9/10

I will admit that I expected to utterly loathe the film version of ‘The Road’. In part because I thought Cormac McCarthy’s book was so devastating and so haunting I didn’t think anything could touch it and secondly because I didn’t rate the leads and don’t like films with precocious little boys in them (Sixth Sense anyone?) especially when they have a rather pivotal part. Yet I thought this was a great version, it was atmospheric, the road they walked was very like the one I envisaged and it both scared and moved me which I really didn’t expect the film version to do. The young boy was a superb actor too and I didn’t even get too irritated by Charlie Theron in the role, that was none existent and only hinted at in the book, as the mother either. 8/10

I think Tim Burton is an utter genius when it comes to films; in fact I was always a little surprised he never got his mitts on the Harry Potter movies. Sadly I just didn’t get on with his remake of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ based of course on the famous Lewis Carroll story. It was crazy and psychedelic enough, whilst of course being nothing like either of the stories more a mesh with all the popular characters. Johnny Depp didn’t shine for me like I expected him to as ‘The Mad Hatter’ and Helena Bonham Carter (or as the Savidge family call her Helena Bonkable Carter – think Bongy, Granny Savidge Reads husband, made that up years ago and still lives on now) was good but not amazing as ‘The Red Queen’ maybe he should stop giving his wife and friend jobs instantly and shake it up a bit as Anne Hathaway was ace as ‘The White Queen’. 6/10

Finally, and get read for me to be scathing, comes ‘The Lovely Bones’ which I thought Peter Jackson (who is normally so good) turned into a mediocre saccharine family drama when it should have been far darker. I am sure it made Alice Sebold a lot of money for adapting the book but it’s tarnished the memory of it for me and I just thought ‘sell out’, strange as I wouldn’t normally feel that way to an author. Rachel Weisz (again normally not bad) seemed unsure what she was meant to do with the role, Mark Wahlberg kept forgetting it wasn’t an action movie and Saoirse Rohan as Salmon was just to breathy and sunshiny even in death, a million miles away from her superb performance in ‘Atonement’. There were two great actors and those were Stanley Tucci who was perfectly despicable and Susan Sarandon as a wonderful drinking, forthright, sex talking grandmother who stole every scene she was in. I wonder if they only have her parts on youtube, if so just watch those. 3/10

And there you have it my first foray into books-to-film thoughts. Hope you enjoyed it? There will be more next week when I also look at film to TV adaptations (and not the new series of ‘Sherlock’ we have here in the UK). In the meantime let’s hear what you have to say about books to film? Have there been any that have done it marvellously, any that have appalled you, or any that shock, horror was actually better than the book?

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35 Comments

Filed under Books To Film

35 responses to “Books To Film #1

  1. I need to watch the Road. I have the DVD and everything but I need to be in the right mood to go through all that devastation all over again.

    Let the right one in has been the best book to film I have seen this year.

  2. Sophie

    You just cracked me up so much. I don’t like films with precocious children in them either! I always thought that made me an evil person. Glad to know I have company…

  3. gaskella

    So far I’ve only seen Alice of that lot above – Johnny Depp was not good, Hathaway was and HBC was goodish!
    I have no desire to see the Road (loved the book), or the Lovely Bones, but must see A Single Man.

    I’ll be reading New Moon soon, and have the DVD lined up to watch after reading the book – I’m a bit behind with Twilight, although I am a huge vampire fan as you know.

    • A Single Man is very good, I have to say I would urge you to give The Road a whirl – it worked for me.

      You do love your Vampires, I only have Breaking Dawn on a free e-reader I got so am refusing to be drawn to it unless see it at the library.

  4. Loved Eclipse! I thought it was better then the previous two films. Such a fun film! I have A Single Man on my ‘films to watch’ list. I’ll probably read The Road before I watch the movie – not sure if that is so wise, but its what I usually do. As for The Lovely Bones, well, I hated the book, so I’m not even sure how or why I wound up watching the film. And lets just say I regret wasting my time watching that film – it was just awful! Definitely a movie I would never recommend.

    Great reviews of films!

    • I liked Eclipse, New Moon remains my favourite so far, I think because of the revealing of the werewolf plot.

      I really liked The Lovely Bones, and thought The Almost Moon was rather good too, the film… Vile.

  5. I, too, saw The Road rather recently and was just as reluctant. The prose was so vital to the emotionality conveyed as well as the immersion of the reader that the medium of film could not have done it justice in my mind. At the same time – it was good. The parts that made me cry in the book didn’t do much for me on film, but the parts I “enjoyed” in the book were gut wrenching experiences on film. For that alone I have to say I was glad to see it.

    Eclipse as a film I adored for pretty much all the reasons you stated. It was fun, good action, the chemistry between actors excellent and all with the benefit of not having to read Meyers’ prose (although Eclipse was much better handled than Twilight).

    Lovely Bones scares me. The book was pretty good (I’ll never forgive the author for the last line an editor should have taken out) but not so amazing as to whet my appetite to re-experience the story in another medium. The cast does sound interesting, however, but I’m still strangely not intrigued.

    Good to hear your thoughts, Simon. 🙂

    • Kimberley you bring up a really interesting point that actually was part of my thoughts on The Road and didn’t include but fully concur with you on. I thought my reactions to the film were very different to the book, both very good (book is better I can’t lie) and emotional but in completely differing ways.

  6. Deb

    My first disenchantment with books-into-film was with GONE WITH THE WIND, which I read (and reread and reread) multiple times during my teens. When I finally saw the movie (pre-VCR days, during a re-release in the 1970s), I was appalled not only by how many major characters had been cut (including two of Scarlett’s three children), but also by how the movie had completely reconfigured the dynamics of the book so that it became the rather saccharine love story of Scarlett and Rhett rather than the story of Scarlett’s requited but unconsummated love for Ashley.

    Over the years, I’ve developed a thicker skin about beloved books becoming movies, but it’s still hard to see favorite books become less than I imagined on the silver screen. My advice: If you love the book, think twice before you see the movie–or be prepared to be disappointed.

  7. Bet

    I thought The English Patient movie was better than the book, and I loved both. I feel the same way about the Anne of Green Gables series.

    One of the most disappointing film adaptations I’ve ever seen was “Simon Burch” which is supposed to be based on John Irving’s A Prayer for Owen Meany. I don’t even see why the film even pretended to be based on that wonderful book (one of my top 10 all-time favorites, BTW).

    A recent adaptation that I enjoyed was the BBC production of Small Island. It had been a while since I read the book, but it seemed to be accurate in conveying the feeling and plot.

    • I loved The English Patient film, but alas have never read the film and must. I haven’t seen the film for years so least it wont be in the forefront of my mind when reading the book.

      I havent read any Irving and have three of his blinking big books on the TBR so really must, maybe one should go to Brazil with me in December.

      I loved the Small Island adaptation apart from the ending which wasw a bit amaerican and lets tie up everything and make it saccharine, I expect more from the Beeb than that!

  8. Eva

    I completely agree w/ you re: The Lovely Bones!

    I tend to avoid movies based on books, unless I a) haven’t read the book and don’t intend to or b) felt ‘meh’ about the book and thus don’t care if it gets destroyed. 😉

    • Your two reasons for watching films used to be mine, somewhere though they just came a cropper along the way. In my next post on this will be discussing how weirdly one film made me want to pick up a series I have been quite anti.

  9. Out of your selection I’ve only seen The Lovely Bones and Eclipse (the latter of which I’ve just reviewed over on my blog)….I’m sooo glad I’m not the only one who noticed and was slightly bugged that they changed Victoria!

    I’m a big fan of adaptation, watching and creating, as it is this subject that I specialised in when studying performance at uni. I tend to rush out to see any adaptation of my favourite books…not that I always love them. I’m not one for this ‘faithful’ to the book thing because I don’t believe a film can ever be a book, they’re different and thats why we love them. Personally I enjoy seeing a different take a story. However sometimes a story for me suits being a book or a film better in that case I’ll have a favourite between otherwise I will enjoy both versions.

    • I don’t understand why there was the Victoria change, maybe they didn’t think people would notice?

      I agree with you that a film can never be the book and sometimes that rule stops me from seeing such films, other times it encourages me to see those films too.

  10. No, no, no, Simon, you can’t loathe anything Viggo stars in. It is not permitted. Like you, I have my dander up about One Day, just knowing that Anne Hathaway is starring in it. She may end up OK, but I don’t agree with that casting AT ALL. There are some really great classics on film (Gone With the Wind, Rebecca, Pride & Prejudice/Colin Firth in a wet white shirt) but one that I was mesmerized with was The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.

    • Hahahaha, I do like and admire you passion for Viggo lol. I have heard reports (from the set – can’t say how) that actually Hathaway is proving to be incredible. We will see…

      Hitchcock’s Rebecca is marvellous, cannot disagree with you there. The Converted One would as spent most of it asleep!

  11. Loved Alice even for all the points at which it did not mesh with Carroll’s story. The look of it, the focus upon Alice’s muchness all left me enchanted.

    What has not worked recently for me was the most recent film adaptation of Brideshead Revisited although Emma Thompson was wonderfully icy. Just kept thinking of Jeremy Irons and company and how charmless this seemed in comparison.

    • I am not sure why Alice didn’t work for me as really it should have, I just wasnt smitten sadly.

      I thought Emma Thompson was owonderful in that film too… the rest not so much although the film coming out did get me to finally read it!

  12. Helena Bonkable Carter! Hahaha!!! The husband loves that one!

    I love this feature. I always like comparing books and movies. I agree that Alice just didn’t quite do it for me which was heartbreaking since I adore Burton and Alice. I just felt like it was a bit too cold. Nobody really captured my heart in it — except maybe the Bandersnatch.

    It’s very late at night so I can’t think of recent book/movie pairings that I liked or didn’t. Maybe I will come back later!

  13. I’m not automatically against film adaptations, but I do find it easier to try to think of them as separate things altogether. The film version of The Road was surprisingly decent, as you said, but felt a bit draggy, which the book never did to me. Definitely some truly terrifying moments though.

    The pap shots I’ve seen on the shoot for One Day don’t look half bad, actually! Not that I’ve read the book yet, but I have a certain amount of trust in Anne Hathaway… http://laineygossip.com/One_Day_book_review_.aspx?CatID=0&CelID=0

    • Thank you for that link Lija, that has actually just made me feel somewhat better about the movie, though in my head she looked nothing at all like an Hathaway and more like Josie out of Big Brother, random but true.

  14. mee

    Thanks to direct my attention to A Single Man, it sounds fab. I’ve read and watched The Road and Alice. Both are great visually I thought, but not spectacular. (I dislike The Road the book and absolutely adored Alice in Wonderland the book.) I’ve read The Lovely Bones and would like to see the movie (even though you said it’s bad. I’m still curious.) I’m staying away from Eclipse. Unlike a lot of people, I’m always interested to see the movie adaptation of a book and I don’t really care whether it’s bad or good. I mean of course I hope it’s good, but I’m not too disturbed when it’s bad. It takes different skills to adapt a book to a big screen and there’s no fixed path. Working in movie industry I feel that I can really appreciate the efforts. Oh a film that I thought was possibly better than the book is Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Big girl crush on Audrey Hepburn!

    • A Single Man is wonderful, its just the way you glide and pan over the beautiful setting and everything, oooh its good.

      Breakfast at Tiffanies is indeed a very good film you are right, I loved the book more though its got a darker edge.

  15. Like you I actually enjoyed the first Twilight movie more than the book. I haven’t seen Eclipse yet, I can’t quite convince my boyfriend to go along with me 😉

    As for Alice in Wonderland, I enjoyed the movie a lot more than the book: I never really understood or liked it. But I agree that it would be nice to see more surprise casting in his movies.

    • I thought the book was barmy and so was the film, in fact Burton did capture that well but it all left me rather ‘meh’ which is a shame. Maybe it was because of the Disney link he dumbed it down a bit.

  16. winstonsdad

    don’t think any good books have been made into great films now bad books make better films I have a love of throwaway films like da vinci code but would never read the books ,to kill a mockingbird maybe stands as a great film and book ,all the best stu

    • I would agree with you on To Kill A Mockingbird, the book is amazing and the film is very good too.

      I loved Angels and Demons as a throwaway block buster and what was even better about it was I didnt have to read the book lol.

  17. This never fails to interest me. As a rule, if I’ve read the book, I usually try to avoid the film (last year I stayed well clear of The Lovely Bones!).

    I recently read My Sister’s Keeper, and then made a point of watching the film for my blog – I could not believe how different the story was from the book! But then just after Christmas I watched Fantastic Mr Fox (Wes Anderson) – which I thought was fab.

    This year I’m anxious about the release of The Great Gatsby (Baz Luhrman) film (which might be released in 3D), and As I Lay Dying (James Franco) film, which is one of my favourite books, and impossible to adapt!

    Great post 🙂

  18. chatebooks

    I think the issue of whether to read the book first or watch the movie first will rest solely on the reader. I personally prefer reading the book first than watching the film version. https://www.chatebooks.com/blog-never-judge-a-book-by-its-movie

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