Nathan Bransford, Author


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

What is Your Favorite Film Adaptation?

Despite the huge numbers of novels adapted for film, movies are rarely quite able to capture the magic of a book, even when the movie is really good. And it's easy to understand why: With the shorter format, it's tough to please both the purists and the casual viewers alike and provide the same depth of experience as a great novel. All the same, some of the greatest movies of all time have been based on books.

So what is your favorite book to film effort?

For me, The Godfather is an easy answer, but the movie elevated more than captured the essence of the book. The Shawshank Redepmtion is another one, but it's arguably easier to translate a novella than a full novel.

So I'd probably have to go with a novel and movie I loved in equal measure: The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler and the 1946 adaptation starring Bogart and Bacall.

What about you?






218 comments:

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Karla Nellenbach said...

FIGHT CLUB for me, it's one of the very few instances where the movie was actually better than the book

Netti said...

Hogfather based on Terry Pratchett's book. It's a British made for tv movie and is completely awesome!!!

Anonymous said...

The Godfather is a good one, but my personal favorite so far has been No Country for Old Men.

Excellent, excellent work. The fact that I am a squeeing fangirl of both the Coen brothers and Cormac McCarthy totally doesn't have anything to do with this, though. *snort*

Joseph L. Selby said...

Lord of the Rings. In many places, I think it out-performed the book.

Ted Fox said...

I really wanted to say "Mean Girls" since Tina Fey did buy the rights to a book to make the movie. But then she realized the book couldn't really be turned into a movie, so she had to make it spectacular on her own.

I suppose this is an embarrassing display of literary/motion picture knowledge, not to mention my taste level. But it's still not as bad as if I had said "The Notebook," right?

Diane said...

The Last of the Mohicians was incredible. The music, the scenery and Daniel in a loincloth... :O)

L.G.Smith said...

I liked the movie Gorky Park a little better than the book.

They also did a pretty good job with Lord of the Rings. I had few complaints.

Victoria said...

Pride & Prejudice 2005. Just like I pictured it with even better scenery.

Rowenna said...

Atonement. You know what nailed it for me? Besides the gorgeous cinematography and the stellar acting? The score. The typewritter-influenced score hooked me from the first frame. I don't think I've ever seen another film nab the spirit of a book--and a literary novel at that.

Anonymous said...

My favorite is simply the best of all time: Hands down, it's The Wizard of Oz. It's one of the greatest films of all time; an adaption that far outstrips its source material...in fact, it's not even close.

Andrea said...

I don't think the 'Fight Club' movie was better than the book, but on par.

Mine is 'Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas' --what a brilliant adaptation.

Rosie Lane said...

Blade Runner. I couldn't get on with its source novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, at all.

astrid paramita said...

Lord of the Rings. I love the book interpretation they are doing for the movie.

christine tripp said...

"Angela's Ashes" by Frank McCourt.
Perfectly beautiful book, same said for the movie.

Bittersweet Fountain said...

I'm going to go with A Little Princess (1995). I loved the book, but I love the movie even more.

Erin Bowman said...

I will second the mention of FIGHT CLUB. What a brilliant adaptation.

And I will also second THE WIZARD OF OZ. Years later, that movie is still incredibly amazing.

Hillsy said...

"Needful Things" perhaps.

Great performance by Ed Harris and for once the film didn't slip into the typical overblown Action ending and actually managed to improve on the book's finale, though to be fair that was a tad lame.

Anonymous said...

Lord of the Rings is an absolutely fantastic adaptation. It's definitely my favourite. I don't think it is right to say that it out performed the book in many places though @Joseph. However, it was a very well made film.
Film adaptations of books are usually not very good. But I think that LOTR fans would have been satisfied with the trilogy.
And I can't wait for The Hobbit! That should be another good adaptation of a fairly big novel.
And Nathan, I decided I had better click that link from Twitter. I wonder if you can guess who this is. Yes, the guy that tweeted @ you his response before he read the blog post.

Ara Burklund said...

Fight Club.

Subcreator said...

Easy. The Princess Bride. But that's no surprise since the author of the book, William Goldman, is an award winning screenwriter and he did the screenplay for the movie. He knew exactly how to adapt it perfectly.

Connie said...

The Charlie Kaufman film, "Adaptation," was genius! Not exactly an adaptation from novel to film in the true sense, but it still does involve the writer's struggle with adapting the novel to film. I guess it's complicated to explain (and watch!) but that's Charlie Kaufman for you...

LOTR was a pretty awesome adaptation as well!

Anonymous said...

Haunted, based on James Herbert's book. Saw the movie and thought, this is fantastic, went to read the book and I was actually disappointed - the movie had improved on the book! Not sure if that makes it a good adaptation or just a better story *shrug*.

Kathryn Packer Roberts said...

LORD OF THE RINGS. 100% They weren't purists, but got as close as they could, leaving out things that didn't need to be put in the movie.

Another great remake is THE PELICAN BREIF. I thought that was great and had an even better ending in the movie than the book.

Akari said...

The Princess Bride. What a brilliant movie. I could quote it all day, and not get tired.

Anonymous said...

Cider House Rules

Amanda C. Davis said...

Came here to say "Shawshank Redemption", saw you had it covered. Carry on.

Abby Stevens said...

GONE WITH THE WIND. Sure, they had to cut a ton out (even with it's 4 hour running time), but it captured the spirit of the book beautifully. When you can't remember which scenes were exclusively the book and which were exclusively the movie, I think the adapatation's done an excellent job. And Vivien Leigh as Scarlett is the best embodiment of a character I've ever seen.

Alan Orloff said...

Jurassic Park

patti said...

Believe it or not, my favorite book-to-film adaptation is "Holes" by Louis Sachar. I thought the movie was beautifully done, and managed to weave together all the complex parts of the puzzle in a way that was believable and fun.

And despite looking nothing like I had pictured Stanley Yelnats, Shia LaBoeuf is adorable.

Jude said...

Although in both cases the movie version were much lighter, I loved the movie adaptations of Practical Magic and Chocolat.

Rick said...

This is almost certainly going to make me sound like an uncultured he-baboon, but I love, love, love the most recent spate of Narnia movies. I would definitely say at least LLW and Prince Caspian, though I think with another viewing Dawn Treader will get added to that list.

The Pollinatrix said...

Adaptation, without a doubt. Completely brilliant and groundbreaking. I can't think of any other movie that actually enhances the experience of processing the book it's based on.

Yuenmei said...

Searching for Bobby Fischer, I actually like the film more than the book. The Princess Bride - I like the film and book for different reasons, but the film might win out out of sheer nostalgia.

Jenna Wallace said...

I liked TIME TRAVELLER'S WIFE. I thought it managed to capture the slightly dark feel, and did a nice job with the tangled lines of time.

hb_wichita said...

In most cases provided, the movie changed or altered something. Some aspect that didn't quite seem to be "literary" enough for the film medium.
I loved FIGHT CLUB the movie and also FIGHT CLUB the book. But I recognize their inherent differences.
With NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, the Coen brothers indicated that they basically went from first page to last. It's what they left out that was literary. The rest was pure cinema.

Richard Gibson said...

Another vote for Lord of the Rings. It seemed to me that the movies were made for lovers of the books, and despite the necessary changes I thought it amounted to the films closest to the books I have ever seen.

Jen Knight said...

Gotta go with Memoirs of a Geisha. LOVED the book as well, but the movie was just so visually pleasing. Now when I re-read the book, I can see the gorgeous images in my head. It's one of my favorite movies--even if they screwed up the end!

Istvan Szabo, Ifj. said...

L.A. Confidential, Blade Runner, The Godfather, The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo and it's sequels, Lord of the Rings trilogy, Schindler's List, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Empire of the Sun, they were all good and faithful adaptations. Sin City was also a professional Comic Book adaptation.

Adaptations which wasn't a movie, but was a series instead, although they were very faithful adaptations; Band of Brothers by Stephen E. Ambrose and Doctor Who: Human Nature by Paul Cornell and it's adaptation in Doctor Who Series 4, Episodes Human Nature and Family of Blood (DRW adaptation wasn't that faithful, but I still loved it's adaptation.).

And my personal favorite, which was far away from the original novel, yet I loved it; Second Variety by Philip K. Dick and it's movie adaptation, Screamers.

Matthew Rush said...

Easy: LOTR, Fellowship. It could be because of my own inner heart hype, but I'm okay with that.

I also watched The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo last night, and thought it was very well done. They actually skipped a lot of stuff that made the pace drag for me in the novel.

I haven't seen The Big Sleep, but The Godfather and The Shawshank Redemption are both excellent examples.

The Lemonade Stand said...

Lord of the Rings...but the extended versions. Not the theatrical cuts. They captured the importance of the relationships between the fellowhip much better with the added footage. Of course, that's just a geek's opinion.

Julie Nilson said...

Others have already said it, but for me, it's The Princess Bride. I have to admit that I saw the movie first, but then when I read the books, I felt like it paled in comparison.

btownbangles said...

Sense & Sensibility - almost impossible for a movie to be better than a classic, but I think Emma Thompson and Ang Lee outdid themselves, I never get tired of watching it.

Also, as many have said, Lord Of The Rings.

Ishta Mercurio said...

I can never pick a favorite. But I absolutely love Atonement, The Wizard of Oz, and Fight Club.

Stephanie {Luxe Boulevard} said...

For me it is the 2009 Masterpiece Classic version of Wuthering Heights. I think I've watched it four times since it came out. It is a bit different in how the story is told, but for logical reasons I think. The importnant thing is Catherine and Heathcliff, and they did a phenomenal job with it.

Kevin said...

Two off the top of my head are Fight Club and Lord of the Rings

Gina Barlean said...

I thought Where the Wild Things Are was beautifully done. Simon Birch was wonderful. True Grit was splendid! What about TV? Remember Little House on the Prairie? That was books I read as a child coming to life in the most perfect of ways!

Frank said...

For me it'd have to be Lord of The Rings and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. When a movie is based on a book, I never try to compare them because they're two different formats [and I think that a movie shouldn't try to be exactly like the book]. So, yeah...

Heidi said...

No one is going to say Twilight? Well, I'm not going to either.

I have to go with Fight Club.

But I also want to give a shout out to the Bourne movies. Not quite as clever as the Ludblum books, but fun and entertaining.

I also really enjoyed Eugenides' The Virgin Suicides as a film. I would love to see an adaptation of Middlesex.

Laurie said...

The BBC's Pride and Prejudice (1995)

Obviously it could do more as a 5-hour mini-series than a normal movie can. Mostly I feel it captured the essence of the book and Jane Austen for me. I was sorely disappointed by the 2005 version. It was so condensed that even I, having read the book and seen the mini-series multiple times, had trouble keeping up with it. And it was just plain wrong in places. They took a lot of creative license with it. As I've seen mentioned elsewhere, it may have been a good movie, but it wasn't Pride and Prejudice.

Colin Firth is, and will forever be, Mr. Darcy for me.

dwkazzie said...

It's not my favorite film (but it's in the top 10), but Die Hard, which was based on a novel from the 1970s called "Nothing Lasts Forever, was the best book-to-film adaptation I've seen.

The movie was VASTLY superior to the book. it's been about 20 years since I read it, but I remember not caring for the book's main character that much.

Jenny said...

I thought The Green Mile did a really good job...considering the episodic style of the novel--six parts, etc.

Though I definitely give 10 points to Pride and Prejudice & Sense and Sensibility. Jane Austen should be proud of her adaptations.

And Abby's spot-on with Gone with the Wind. Vivien Leigh is still Scarlett O'Hara for me.

abc said...

Darn, this is hard. I'm going to cheat. Also, I haven't read any of these books. I couldn't get through A Clockwork Orange, but the Kubrick movie is, of course, fracking amazing!

Love to pieces A Room with a View.

And also, Roger Michell's movie of Jane Austen's Persuasion is so beautiful and heartbreaking and I'm pretty sure the movie version of my personality (which isn't exactly beautiful and heartbreaking, but...).

Trailer? Sure.

http://imdb.to/hYPIfc

M@ said...

Children of Men took a ponderous, slow-moving religious allegory by P.D. James and made it into a gripping, stunning movie. Goes so far beyond the book, it's almost unfair to compare them.

And Trevor Nunn's Twelfth Night is a model of how Shakespeare should be adapted for film, especially his comedies.

The Personal Assistant said...

shawshank redemption

Mariam said...

Okay, a literary war-theme for me: The Chocolate War (John Glover is creepily fantastic as Brother Leon)and The Milagro Beanfield War (quirky, intelligent, thoroughly Robert Redford)

Julio Vazquez said...

For me it's a toss-up between The Green Mile and The Exorcist. Draw your own conclusions.

Cynthia said...

I also couldn't get through Clock Work Orange. Bizarre movie too. My vote has to go to 1) The Lord of the Rings 2) Gone with the Wind and 3) The Wizard of Oz as well.

Anonymous said...

The Devil Wears Prada.I think it's actually better than the source material.

Charli Armstrong said...

The 1997 version of LOLITA.

Kyle said...

The Island on Bird Street was a great film: a really sweet, melancholy meditation on the Warsaw ghetto from a small boy, honest where it needed to be and wryly sentimental where it didn't. I saw it at a film festival when it first came out, and I was so impressed by it that I found and read the original book at the library as soon as I could. I didn't find it as good - much too sentimental and fantastic. I felt the movie had more gravity and realism, as hard as that is to believe.

Kaitlyne said...

My first thought was the Shawshank Redemption as well. I actually prefer the movie to the original story and it's one of the best movies I've seen.

That being said, I do adore Fight Club and it's one of the few movies I pick up periodically and just rewatch. I haven't read the book yet, though, so I don't know how well it fairs as an adaptation.

Emily White said...

The Lord of the Rings and The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe (newer version) are my favorites.

Jenn B said...

Breakfast at Tiffany's

Tony Patti said...

Catch-22, which was remarkably faithful to what could be considered an unfilmable book. Heller said that he wished he had included one of the scenes in the movie in his book; it was that good at capturing his tone. Unsurpassable.

Josef Von Sternberg's Crime and Punishment is another example of superhuman ability to capture the tone of a book without being able to reproduce it and all the interior monologues. It has faults, but the opening shot of Peter Lorre as Raskolnikov graduating, is masterful,everyone in the class is in silhouette, a mass of black figures, and the only illumination from the front are the glaring white dangling hands of the future murderer.

http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=482897446454

Hogglepot said...

THE PRINCESS BRIDE hands down. the movie perfectly captures the essence of William Goldman's abridgment, and as an earlier commenter points out, he was a screenwriter and knew exactly how to do it. that and the casting was flawless.

THE LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy comes in a close second, and i agree with an earlier commenter, the extended versions, not the theatrical cuts. and of the three LOTR films, the second one is the best book to film, even if the third is my favorite.

Elle said...

Yep, Lord of the Rings for me too.

And in second place, I might go for Mrs Doubtfire, which is one of those movies that is far better than the book, in my opinion.

Stacy McKitrick said...

Wow - no one mentioned TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD (Guess that makes me OLD). I loved both the book and the movie.

Stephanie@thecrackedslipper said...

First: The 2005 Pride and Prejudice with Keira K.
Second: Cold Mountain. I still get the chills when I think of the battle scene at the beginning...the soldiers pressed up against the wall of mud...nothing has ever conveyed the reality of war in such a messy, anonymous, heart-wrenching way for me. Renee Z. was amazing, and Jude Law said it all without saying much of anything.

Travis Erwin said...

I liked the movie version of Nobody's Fool by Richard Russo and while I disliked Forrest Gump as a book, the movie wasn't too bad so I'd give it kudos for turning an annoying read into a pleasant viewing experience.

Anonymous said...

oh, THE SHINING... or LOTR.

Juliette said...

I just read and watched True Grit (2011) in the same weekend, and loved both. But the winner has to be The Lord of the Rings.

Loree Huebner said...

A River Runs Through It, Somewhere in Time, and Gettysburg from The Killer Angels are among my favorites.

Of course, The Godfather, Pride and Predjudice, Gone With the Wind, and The Lord of the Rings get a nod too.

I read The Time Travelers Wife, but did not see the movie on advice from a friend who told me that I would be disappointed after reading the book.

Raquel Byrnes said...

I'm HOPING its Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. *fingers crossed*

Simon said...

The English Patient. A beautiful untangling of the book.

Beth Pontorno said...

I agree with Jude who said Practical Magic. And although the movie hasn't been released yet, I have high hopes for One For The Money because I love the Stephanie Plum series. Fingers crossed.

K.L. BRADY said...

Roots
BBC version of Pride and Prejudice
Bridget Jones' Diary
The Godfather.

Not necessarily in that order.

Ted Cross said...

While Shawshank Repemption and LOTR (I mean, who thought anyone would be able to even come close to doing justice to that?) are great, my hands down favorite is Blade Runner. Yes, I know it isn't much like the story (which I like but don't love), but it is simply the greatest movie ever in my opinion.

Diana said...

LOTR, the movie was a lot better than the book. The screenwriters injected tension into the plot which is what makes it better than the book. The books read like a history book, they went here, they went there, this happened, that happened, no tension whatsoever in the books.

Ted Cross said...

Princess Bride was terrific also!

Laura Riley said...

Mine is a toss-up between The Princess Bride and Rebecca. I know the ending changed in the movie of Rebecca, but they still captured the fear and tension in the house so beautifully.

Geoff said...

I'd have to say Fight Club for sure. I couldn't finish the book (nothing against Palahniuk). I also found Prince Caspian to be a really, really solid adaptation.

And for kicks I'll put Chris Nolan's Memento, based of the short story Memento Mori by his brother Jonathan. I've never read the story but Memento is my favorite movie ever, so there ya go!

Ted Cross said...

Ack, I can't forget One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. I'd say The Godfather also except that I haven't read the book. Even so, it MUST be a great adaptation.

lora96 said...

Fingersmith by Sarah Waters (although it was a bbc adaptation not theatrical release) was luminous and exquisite.

The Kenneth Branagh/Emma Thompson Much Ado about Nothing.

Top one ever, though, A River Runs Through It. I saw it when I was twelve and it made me so aware of storytelling and the visual impact of film. Gorgeous.

John Jack said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
D.G. Hudson said...

Frank Herbert's DUNE is my pick, as the movie stuck to the original quite a bit.

They(the studio) created a great rendition of the gigantic spice worms and made me feel the heat of the desert and smell that addictive spice. I never tire of watching it. The actors chosen fit the characters perfectly too, in my mind.

Most of the time, the further the film strays from the original, the less I like it. I'm one of those purists - don't mess with the author's vision.

Wednesdays are my favorite day on this blog - it's always interesting reading.

John Jack said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Marsha Sigman said...

I'll give you Shawshank Redemption because it was awesome but The Green Mile is my favorite. It was nearly a flawless adaptation and who beats Tom Hanks as a main character?

I heard a rumor that Stephen King consults on the set of every film so maybe that's why his stay more in line with the novel.

Ria said...

A few people have already mentioned The Princess Bride, and I have to agree with them. Everything about the movie is better - the characters are better developed, the plot is more coherent, the ending is more satisfying.
I've watched the film at least 100 times, while I've read the book once, and don't intend to read it again. I think that says enough.

D.G. Hudson said...

@Ted Cross: I love Blade Runner too, it's one of those movies that stick in your mind, but I never read the book. Science fiction gets my vote every time.

John Jack said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Scott said...

Diane's got it right. Last of the Mohicans (1992) by Michael Mann takes the stilted, decrepit, yet beautiful Cooper material and makes it into a vivid and alluring world of adventure.

I'll also agree with the LOTR fans, it was a very faithful adaptation that also took chances on "movie-fying" the story in just the right ways. Book still wins, but the movie is rock solid.

Eliza T said...

Hunt for Red October

Stephanie Barr said...

The original TV miniseries of

pambelina said...

Big Fish. I actually love the movie more than the book!

John Jack said...

Ray Bradbury's Farenheit 451 for its portrayal of audiovisual technology's corruption of book culture, for its portrayal of popular mass culture's majority rules tyrrany over individual entertainment choices, for its portrayal of society and government's addiction to and consequent ursurpation by big business revenues, for burning books.

And they made the novel into a screenplay, the very medium the novel cautions is an opiate for the masses. Go full circle. Burn movies. Take back the personal power to choose.

Really, though, novels and their screenplay adaptations and vice versa are companion works for me. Hand-in-hand they enhance each other. And their differences in intepretation and delivery make for different entertainments.

Kate Larkindale said...

There are two that come to mind right off the bat. The Sweet Hereafter (book by Russell Banks, film by Atom Egoyan) and Rumble fish (book by SE Hinton, film by Francis Ford Coppola).

I also have to say Winter's Bone is a fantastic adaptation. Just as good as the book.

Susan said...

TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD!

kathrynleighaz said...

I have to agree with Subcreator and say The Princess Bride! Andre the Giant makes everything bigger and better :)

Dawn Simon said...

DAVID COPPERFIELD (BBC version with Daniel Radcliffe)

The Red Angel said...

My answer to this is definitely "Lord of the Rings." More often than not, the book wins over the movie, but in this case I really think that the LOTR movie trilogy was even better than the book series.

"Little Women" is also a pretty awesome film adaptation, though I'm not sure I would go as far as to say it was better than the book.

~TRA

http://xtheredangelx.blogspot.com

Candice.Abraham said...

I don't think anyone has chosen this one yet, but a few weeks ago I just watched the film adaptation of NEVER LET ME GO by Kazuo Ishiguro. It's amazing. It captures both the mood and pace of the novel. I often think the pacing in film adaptations is what is most lacking (probably due to time constraints.)

Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley and Andrew Garfield are superb in their roles.

I really suggest everyone goes and sees this movie and reads the book!!

Stephanie McGee said...

Lord of the Rings.

Linda Penney said...

The World According to Garp is my favorite film adaptation of a book. It masterfully integrates the characters' literary works into the screenplay and the casting of Glenn Close and Robin Williams as mother and son was a stroke of brilliance. Works on every level and is every bit as good -- or better -- than the book.

LadySaotome said...

I'd have to say Inkheart by Cornelia Funke. It's probably the only movie adapted from a book where I actually prefer the changes they made at the end.

Anne R. Allen said...

A lot of great films here. I think I'll have to agree with Gone with the Wind. Way better movie than book.

Worst adaptation? Pay it Forward. Kevin Spacey as a black man? Really?

MJR said...

I liked the movie WUTHERING HEIGHTS more than the novel (the classic 1939 version with Laurence Olivier). I loved the movie SIDEWAYS (but enjoyed the book too)...I thought the movie version of REVOLUTIONARY ROAD was good and it got me to read the novel (even better...)...

Mystery Robin said...

The English Patient - *ducks*

Mira said...

Fun topic, Nathan.

My favorite is - hands down - the Wizard of Oz. A sweet book, but the movie was a masterpiece adaptation - it added depth that wasn't in the book.

I also prefer Charlie the Chocolate Factory (the one with Gene Wilder) to the book. Sweet and magical. But Dahl wrote both, so kudos to Dahl.

As a LOTR purist - someone who read the books over and over growing up - I'm afraid I didn't like the movies that much - they left out important parts and changed important story lines and characters. But they did bring the story to the general public in a respectful and lively way, so A+ to Jackson, in my book.

tericarter said...

BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN, though it's a novella, is to-the-letter true to the book. NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, though I think the Coen Brothers didn't quite capture the Sheriff's angst, which is the whole point of the book. I'm admittedly obsessed with THE GODFATHER I and II, so much that when my husband hears the music playing he knows the TV will be tuned there for the rest of the weekend afternoon --- and it plays about every other weekend. Poor husband. ;-)

Suzie F. said...

LOTR and A Little Princess (Alphonso Cuaron's version)

E.Maree said...

The Shining is my number one adaption.

Sarah said...

I'll throw in another one for:

A Room With a View. Maintains the spirit of the book, including much of the original dialogue, but you get wonderful performances, a great score, and beautiful views of Italy. Love it!

Aaron Morris said...

THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE

THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE

WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE

HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER'S STONE

Kristine Overbrook said...

For me it was the first Harry Potter movie. It totally brought quiddich alive. Lord of the Rings is a close second.

I liked Fight Club, but I didn't read the book.

They need to make the Dragon Riders of Pern into a movie.

Kate said...

I'm going to second LA Confidential and No Country for Old Men. Two of my all time favorite movies/books.

But I also really like Out of Sight (yes, with J.Lo). I'm reading the novel right now (Elmore Leonard) and I think the movie really holds up.

Also, the Colin Firth P&P. Classic.

Shelby House said...

Fight Club. The book and the movie were very similar, the movie even featuring dialogue that comes word-for-word from the book. It took its own gritty view and style (not that Palahniuk's wasn't, but there's only so much you can do visually with a book) but retained the same plot (with minor changes at the resolution, and excluding stories that were not vital to the story). I think that's what a film adaptation should be; a true retelling of the book itself, while taking advantage of the fact that you can actually SEE the events taking place. I love the book and the movie.

I read "No Country for Old Men" AFTER I saw the film, and I loved them both. They did leave a few things out in the movie that I think would have added to the story. Silly Ethan & Joel.

Jayme Stryker said...

I agree with what has been repeated several times. Fight Club the movie rocks, the book...eh, shrug. I probably would never have picked the book up if I hadn't watched the movie.

Sommer Leigh said...

Do graphic novels count? I'm a huge fan of the adaptations for Watchmen and Sin City.

Also: Stardust by Neil Gaiman and Baz Luhrmann's version of Romeo and Juliet

Robin said...

Hopscotch.

ARJules said...

I have to agree with some of the comments above:

Shawshank - one of my faves!
Pride & Prejudice (BBC Version) - Again, it was mentioned that it is easier to do a book justice with 5 hours.
Princess Bride - Who DOESN'T love that movie??

Someone mentioned To Kill A Mockingbird. It's my favorite book of all time. Maybe that's why the movie isn't my favorite. They did a great job on it, but just not my favorite adaption.

Katherine Hyde said...

Another vote for The Princess Bride. It's actually better than the book--it's the Good Parts Version.

Mr. D said...

I agree with most answers here. But I want to say one that hasn't already been mentioned a kazillion times, or even once. So I won't say Godfather, LOTR, GWTW, Fight Club, or Wizard of OZ.

(And thanks, D.G., for saying DUNE! And a nod to Sommer Leigh for saying Sin City and Watchmen!)

No, I'll be the first and maybe only one to mention: From Russia With Love. That was the quintessential James Bond.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes I don't do both sides of a story and choose only book or only movie.
They are truly different forms for storytelling.

I admit some of my favorite movies, I can't comment as to the adaptation as i didn't read the book when the movie was complete for me.

But some stories beg for all of their "versions" and forms.

As for adaptions true to "first" form:

The Princess Bride is wonderful. Yes.

True to "complimentary form" (i.e. it adds to the fullness of the story, characters, setting, etc.):

Dracula
Frankenstein
Twilight

(Horror films in general do this)

heather said...

For sure, Like Water for Chocolate. I always hate movie versions of books, except this one.

salima said...

The Princess Bride! Fight Club! And, to my great and happy surprise, Where the Wild Things Are.:)

Julie said...

To Kill a Mockingbird. Gregory Peck is Atticus Finch!

Nicole Marie Schreiber said...

I loved the adaptation of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. It is still my favorite of the series (both in book and movie form).

Michael Offutt said...

Sin City

Kasey said...

I was actually just watching this one today and I would have to say To Kill a Mockingbird with Gregory Peck. Amazing amazing movie. A masterpiece really.

Bryan Russell (Ink) said...

Oh, yeah, Shawshank Redemption has to to be up there.

Also:
No Country for Old Men
The Princess Bride
Wonder Boys

And, I must admit, I think all of Grisham's stories are better as movies than as books. He can tell a story, but his writing and characters can be pretty wooden. Good actors can give those characters some life, and a good director's interpretation makes the prose irrelevant.

Bonnie said...

Mystic River

Anonymous said...

Forrest Gump or Fight Club.

amethyst said...

pride and prejudice (the Keira Knightly version)

Gina said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Eve said...

Memoirs of A Geisha...there is so much detail in that book and I thought the movie did a fantastic job portraying it. It's one of my favorite novels and I bought the move...a rare event for me :-).

Jeni said...

I love the film adaptation of BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA. Cried my eyes out.

mary-j-59 said...

Whale Rider - a beautiful adaptation of a beautiful book. The interesting thing is that, if you read the book, you'll find it quite different from the movie in some ways. But the core of the story is the same, and comes across wonderfully.

LOTR - I'm just not sure. I love the books so much, and love them so well, that I could not help being angered at some of the falsifications in "Return of the King", though I loved both "Fellowship" and "Two Towers" and found much to admire in all the movies. The books are better, though.

I am strangely fond of Spielberg's "Empire of the Sun", though I think it does soften the original material a bit, and I also love Winona Ryder's recent "Little Women". But I think "Whale Rider" wins.

robinC said...

Pride and Prejudice. Love the BBC version but when I don't have 5 hours, the 2005 version is pretty darn good too - even though major plotlines are all but dropped. Visually, it's a beautiful movie and the score is captivating. The scene where Darcy(Matthew Macfadyen) first professes his feelings to Elizabeth(Keira Knightly) and she shuts him down...wow...fraught with very yummy romantic tension. The supporting cast is excellent too. Highly recommended.

Austin James said...

I'd have to go with Misery - Wonderful book in it's own right, and Kathy Bates gave me nightmares for weeks as a kid.

Perri said...

"The Prestige". It's quite different from the book, but it works really well. The film makers changed the plot in was that (although less complex) heightened the drama.

Worst adaptation: "The Quiet American". Hated it beyond words. I just had to get that off my chest.

Heidi said...

Girl With A Pearl Earring, from the book by Tracy Chevalier. The film is such a visual feast - beautifully lit and shot, a true ode to Vermeer's artwork. The sexual tension is palpable and haunting, even if Colin Firth's hairpiece was a bit distracting. But a gorgeous film.

Great subject, by the way, Nathan! Love reading everyone's picks.

Elisabeth said...

For feature films - Emma Thompson's 1995 adaptation of Sense and Sensibility. As all feature films do, it trims and alters ever so slightly to fit the running time, but it's a beautiful movie and captures the spirit of the book perfectly. Also, the classic western Shane is one of the best examples of book and film complementing each other that I know.

For miniseries, of course you can't beat the BBC Pride & Prejudice. But another terrific adaptation is BBC's 1994 version of Dickens' Martin Chuzzlewit.

You know one movie I liked better than its book? Mary Poppins! The book just seemed rather strange to me, but the film is great.

Doris Fleck said...

Both The Big Sleep and The Lord of the Rings trilogy had some of the same things going for them - directors and screen writers that wanted to keep as close to the book as possible.

And then there was the magical casting for both films. Especially with Lord of the Rings. I along with dozens of my friends all had specific ideas of what the characters should look and act like. Jackson seemed to nail it on almost every count. I have interviewed dozens of fans about this and few of them have major problems with any of the casting (I didn't like Sean Austin as Sam until my brother told me he was exactly the Sam he had imagined).

wry wryter said...

Frank Capra's, It's a Wonderful Life, based on a short story not a novel.

Life changing.

Anonymous said...

For elevating, I'd say a tie between There Will Be Blood and Silence of the Lambs.

For capturing, probably Lord of the Rings, but I also liked To Kill a Mockingbird a lot.

-Salom T.

Aimee Bea said...

Fight Club or P.S. I Love You. The latter was not a very good book in my opinion, but the movie is one of my favorites!

Tim Riley said...

Oh man, great topic! I love Michael Chabon's Wonder Boys, and the movie is spot-on.

MsJWoodard said...

The Color Purple.

The movie was so and book were excellent. They did a great job of keeping the movie as the book was written almost word for word. I was shocked. Most of the time the combine characters, delete scenes and add scenes. Not this time, great job.

Sheila Cull said...

Every book that I've read that winds up a film, not surprisingly, is a delightful read.

That's why I say, "No thanks, I'll pass, the movie'll ruin it."

Nancy Kelley said...

I generally enjoy film adaptations more if I watch them before I read the book. That was the case with Lord of the Rings, which gets my vote. After falling in love with the films, I decided to read the book.

Now... well, I still love the films. The cinematography and score are beautiful. However, I have issues with some of Peter Jackson's interpretations. When I watch the movies, I mutter things like, "Elrond would never do that," and "Going into the West is not the same thing as dying!"

P.A.Brown said...

I think the one that came closest to capturing the books has to be The Lord of the Rings. That was a complex story and it was stunning.

In more down to earth novels to movies, L.A. Confidential. I love the movie but confess the book is not the easiest to read.

Nicole Zoltack said...

Definitely The Princess Bride. I loved the movie (saw the movie first.). After I read the book, I loved that too. Both are just perfect. I wouldn't change a thing in either.

daniel t. radke said...

Fight Club and Fear and Loathing are two of my favorite movies, but I'm not sure they can beat out the massive amount of epic that LOTR brings to the table.

Danielle La Paglia said...

THE PRINCESS BRIDE is my favorite. The Godfather and Gone With the Wind did excellent jobs, too, but TPB is just awesome.

Dara said...

Lord of the Rings. Definitely.

Tricia said...

FORREST GUMP. The book was funnier. The movie had the advantage of the awesome soundtrack.

Jean J. said...

TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

Tricia said...

I think it probably has to be 'Gone With the Wind', because I enjoyed the film as much as the book, but I have two runners-up: 'The Dead Zone' and the big surprise which was 'The Time Traveler's Wife', because I dreaded it so much, and when I eventually steeled myself to watch it, and expected that I'd be criticising it non-stop, it was pretty much perfect.

Sharon Axline said...

To Kill a Mockingbird - best ever!

R.D. Allen said...

Lord of the Rings! 8D

Falls Apart said...

Hostage is the only movie that I liked better than the book. The bad guys were actually sympathetic. I loved it!

Joy N. Hensley said...

I'm going to jump on a different train and say a television series I like better than the book. And, really, I'm an 8th grade English teacher so you have to give me a break.

But, for what it's worth, I think The Vampire Diaries show is WAY better than the books. I mean, in so many different ways that I can't sum it up in a comment and will henceforth write a blog post about it.

Mallory M. said...

Ooh, tough call. Still, Lord of the Rings wins. Just a general rule for me.

Second place: Stardust. I actually liked the movie version much better than the book. That's the only movie I can think of that breaks the rule, since I'm usually an incredibly staunch purist.

Backfence said...

Friendly Persuasion.

Gone with the Wind.

Ride with the Devil Book: Woe to Live On)

To Kill a Mockingbird.

Jen said...

I'm with Rowenna - Atonement.
And it's all about the typewriter noises.

It was one of those books that you read, love, and cringe when you hear there's a movie coming out... I love being proved wrong!

Also, Lord of the Rings. Just because of the scope of the scenery.

Carolyn B said...

"Winter's Bone" by Daniel Woodrell is my favorite. The movie was nominated for best picture award this year, even though it was a little independent film and not too many people had a chance to see it. The book is dark, gritty, and realistic. I didn't think a movie could do it justice, but it was perfect.

Deb said...

Since you're going to disqualify my first choice (The Body/Stand By Me), because it's a novella, I'll go with Fight Club. But I disagree that a novella is easier to adapt. Despite the ease the length creates, many novellas have not been adapted well, which tells me it's still a fine, fine art. (And since we're on the topic of the Bachman books, I'll point to Running Man as a particularly horrible example of a novella being adapted to screen.)

Anonymous said...

Probably Coraline.

Joy N. Hensley said...

Here's my Vampire Diaries post if anyone's interested:

Nicole L Rivera said...

Harry Potter. They do a great job of capturing the world and the warmth of the books even though things are changed a bit.

Anonymous said...

To Kill a Mockingbird

Anonymous said...

Howard's End

Rebecca said...

Howard's End was spectacular, but my vote goes for "The Joy Luck Club." It was a fine read, but I had no experience to begin to imagine the scenery and the culture of the mother's lives in China.

Becca C. said...

I like the movie of The Princess Bride waaaay better than the book. And Ghost World is my favourite movie of all time - but it was originally a graphic novel. Still.

Magdalena Munro said...

Into the Wild.....what a phenominal film

Lynda Young said...

Chocolat was better as a movie simply because the ending was better (oh, and there was also Johnny Depp to sigh over), even though the book is beautifully written.

Orange Jeep Girl said...

The Princess Bride and Sahara

Anonymous said...

Stardust

Carol Riggs said...

As everyone has echoed, The Princess Bride, Wizard of Oz, and Lord of the Rings, but I do love the 2005 Pride and Prejudice with Keira Knightley and Matthew MacFadyen. Sigh. :) Or the 1995 Frances Hodgson Burnett's A Little Princess, anyone?

Anonymous said...

The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Brilliant. Silence of the Lambs. Manhunter (based on the book Red Dragon by Thomas Harris). Shane. Forrest Gump. Psycho. Blade Runner (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, philip K. Dick). Sophie's Choice. the Thing (Who Goes There?). L.A. Confidential. Stand By Me. Dances With Wolves. The Last of the Mohicans. Die Hard (Nothing Lasts Forever). The Princess Bride, From Here to Eternity....okay, I over did it...but what the hey.

Laurie Boris said...

My favorite adaptations are The World According To Garp and The Accidental Tourist. Third nod goes to The Secret Life of Bees.

KSCollier said...

HARRY POTTER of course. All the HARRY POTTER movies are fabulous. In my opinion they brought the books to life even moreso. Great read and great watch, and I enjoyed them all.

mbdcares said...

Only one other person said it, but I agree Jurassic Park. Truly the only the movie that improved my imagination's picture of Michael Crichton's words. However, now I must see Fight Club. Thank you again, Nathan for another thought provacative post.

mbb

Alyosha said...

What about musical adaptations? Wicked was head and shoulders above the book!

Shell said...

The Princess Bride. I quote both book and movie with equal relish.

I love LOTR and watching it 'live' was a dream come true. However, some of the changes didn't sit well, and that soured it just enough to bump it out of first place. Aragorn never doubted himself. He always knew who he was. Even so, I can't wait to see The Hobbit!

Anonymous said...

Joy Luck Club

Jazzo said...

Rosemary's Baby is not only the greatest adaptation of novel to screen, it is also the greatest film ever made.

Jazzo said...

Followed closely by Jaws.

Rosemary's Baby is the book. Jaws is one hundred times the book.

Lynn Oldenburg said...

The Virgin Suicides is my number one. I think it perfectly captured the tone of the only book I've ever called "haunting."

The Princess Bride might be better than the book.

I loved the Time Traveler's Wife, but I also love love loved the book and was kind of determined to like the movie, so I may be biased.

And you didn't ask but my least favorite adaptation? Anything by Asimov.

Leila said...

As the biggest consumer of chocolate on the planet, I have to say that seeing Charlie and the Chocolate Factory bought to life was awesome. The Gene Wilder version that is (agree with Mira). When I found that book as a child it completely captured my imagination. Seeing it's translation was magical. And, ahem, I still have the DVD of the Gene Wilder version, which my kids now love and enjoy.

I also really, really liked Forrest Gump and the Wizard of Oz.

Jillian Audrey said...

Breakfast at Tiffany's
Stand by Me
Into the Wild
Twilight Saga

I know, quite a mix I added!

Anonymous said...

The animated Charlotte's Web

Marion said...

Patti, you beat me to it with HOLES. Also, for everyone who said TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD--Duh! Why didn't I think of that? LOTR & NARNIA did what couldn't be done. They were almost as good as the books plus imagination. Books beat movies on those. As for TV adapatations, I loved BLEAK HOUSE with Diana Rigg as Lady Dreadlock--I mean Deadlock. Have to admit I haven't read the book. Waiting to be ready to get seriously depressed.

Elie said...

Harry Potter, esp. Prisoner of Azkaban.
Alan Rickman as Snape is perfection in all the movies.

Em-Musing said...

The Bridges of Madison County.

Anonymous said...

American Psycho. A book that seemed unfilmable turned into a decent film.

Rick Daley said...

Stand By Me, from Stephen King';s novella "The Body"

The absolute worst adaptation was Tom Clancy's THE SUM OF ALL FEARS.

Scott Marlowe said...

The Green Mile is up there on my list, but so is Marley & Me by John Grogan. I have 2 dogs, one aging and the other not too far behind, so it was a preview of what's to come for me and my wife with those two. I saw the movie before reading the book; it's the only book I've immediately bought after seeing the movie. Highly recommend both to anyone who likes/loves dogs.

MBee said...

To Kill a Mockingbird is one of few adaptations I feel stands up to the book.

Tiffany Hawk said...

The Painted Veil. The plot is the same, but the outcome in the movie is so much deeper and more beautiful. Not to mention the landscapes.

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