Sunday, July 15, 2012

Movies of books


Never judge a book by its movie.
           -- J. W. Eagan

My life is full of coincidences these days. I was *just* discussing this subject with a friend. She quoted something from Peter Pan, about Peter having nightmares, a surprisingly deep scene which I'd never heard of, and it didn't fit at all with the Peter Pan I knew from Disney. 
Similarly, if you have only ever seen James Bond movies and not read any of the books, you'll think it's perhaps very entertaining, but also quite superficial fluff action stories. But in the books it's actually quite different, there's sometimes a lot of pathos. At the end of one book he finally gets married, and his wife is gunned down while she's still in her wedding dress. I'm not sure I've seen all of them, but I don't think such a scene ever made it to a movie! 
An of course an egregious example: Battlefield Earth. The movie was just stunningly bad. They had changed everything. Mostly because technology and the budget was not up to creating very realistic ten feet tall aliens descended from wolves, the aliens did not look alien at all, and many other things. It was basically laughable. And it was a claustrophobic-feeling action movie, while one of the things I like best about the book (a very large book, for years one of my favorites) was the many stunning vistas that the author created, he had a unique talent for creating a feeling of space. (Not outter space, but mountain landscapes or big forests, etc.) 

Of course they are very different media, and often one just has to tell a different story. But it can be done well. For example I think the Harry Potter movies were perfectly adapted, though of course the stories had to be abbreviated, they had the exact feel of the books. 

19 comments:

Bert said...

Another nice adaptation, IMO, was The Lord of the Rings trilogy. I might be biased a bit here, because I was expecting such a disaster, I had such low expectations that I could only be pleasantly surprised. But still, I believe they really did great work. Can't wait to see The Hobbit!

Andreas Weber said...

You might want to watch "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" (with the "unknown James Bond" George Lazenby), especially the end. ;-)
And I disagree about the Harry Potter movies. E.g., the "Forbidden Forest" largely looks like a modern spruce monoculture, not like a wilderness. And they pretty much eliminated all classes - to me the movies don't at all feel like we're at a school.
The one movie where I liked the adaptation (might even prefer the movie over the book) was "Bridge to Terabithia".

Jes said...

Well, some of them were. The first three HP movies I thought were perfect adaptations, the best I've seen. After that, it was arbitrarily decided that the series "got dark", and I feel it lost some its humor. And some of them just felt really rushed, and they took so much out. Seriously how do make an 800 page book into a two hour movie?

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

Ya, that's the dilemma.

But the series *did* get dark, Rowling even said so to her publisher early on, that it would become so. I don't think the movies exaggerated that at all, if I'd been on the Good side going through the last three books I'd probably have killed myself from despair. They didn't have a horsefly's chance in a forest fire.

Jes said...

True, but I do feel they over-exaggerated that aspect of it. All that whispering and junk. One of my favorite things about the books is they're just plain fun to read, and I think a couple of the movies overlooked that.

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

Mmmm, you could be right.
Although the point where I almost lost interest was in the books, in the middle of book five. It was sooo long, and depressing, around the time when Harry was punished by writing which cut into his hand.

Jes said...

*shrug* Well, to each their own. That's not my main complaint anyway. My main complaint is some of the movies just felt rushed, like they were in a hurry to get from one scene to the next. The fourth movie probably covered the first five chapters in ten minutes. But to be fair, that's less of an issue when I haven't read the book the night before watching the movie. :P

Dave Nielsen said...

The Lord of the Rings movies weren't bad, just kind of blah. One thing that bothered me about them, and the same thing can be said for Game of Thrones, is that the armor has that "parade ground" look to it. The dwarf was also kind of a clown, which he wasn't in the book, and they got the Elves wrong.

I did enjoy them, I just feel no desire to ever see them again.

Dave Nielsen said...

1The first three HP movies I thought were perfect adaptations, the best I've seen.

I agree, and in fact the first movie was what got me to even try the books. The later ones were less successful not so much because they "got dark" as because they had to cut so much out of the increasingly massive books. Had Harry Potter been a bit less successful, the books might've been shorter. I'm not opposed to long books but these always felt a bit padded.

Pascal [P-04referent] said...

Many HP fans, including myself, felt that they shouldn't have cut off the epic Quidditch World Cup match from the 4th story. They surely could've done without that lengthy dragon chase in the Triwizard Tournament if they were short on time...
Agree with Jes: they overly darkened the feel of the later movies, and much of the humor was regrettably lost. Especially that mayhem scene in Order of the Phoenix, I LOL'd while reading it.
"Filch, don't stun them.
- Yes, Headmistress!", puffed Filch the squibb.


I believe Bond's marriage was in the one movie starring John Lazenby. I definitely remember Roger Moore, at the start of For Your Eyes Only, standing over the grave of Teresa Bond.

Recently saw Transformers 3. LONG movie, but all for the benefit of non-ending action and battle scenes, with a cornucopia of robot scenes and SFX. For an uncomplicated "action movie for big boys", they sure didn't get cheap with the budget.
Can't wait to read the movie's book! ;-)

Todd Bridges said...

Something that I wondered about in the Potter movies. They have students making out a lot but no one's banging anyone else. When I was in high school, and I think this is likely the same the world over, almost everyone was and everyone who wasn't wanted to. If Rowling wanted accuracy - and, like the writer of those Godawful His Dark Materials books - to outdo guys like C.S. Lewis she should've included at least references to students doing the nasty. Why didn't she? Sales!

Dave Nielsen said...

They surely could've done without that lengthy dragon chase in the Triwizard Tournament if they were short on time

Yes, I could have done without that dragon chase quite easily.

Pascal [P-04referent] said...

I know, Dave, but actually I was talking about the dragon that went after Potter's ass. Even nastier than the one that chased you that day... (BTW, how are these hind burns of yours?)

Todd, I suggest you google "Harry Potter fanfiction Psychic Snake". During that lengthy hiatus after Book#4, someone "wrote" the three last books (in equivalent size!)... and with the "growing adults" stuff unabashedly dealt with.
A bit less epic than the canons, but I actually enjoyed the bit when Harry time-travels to prevent his mother's murder. And his animagus training was rather interesting.
(Hah, I bet THAT got your attention! And these weren't even actual SPOILERS.)

Pascal [P-04referent] said...

I know, Dave, but actually I was talking about the dragon that went after Potter's ass. Even nastier than the one that chased you that day... (BTW, how are these hind burns of yours?)

Todd, I suggest you google "Harry Potter fanfiction Psychic Snake". During that lengthy hiatus after Book#4, someone "wrote" the three last books (in equivalent size!)... and with the "growing adults" stuff unabashedly dealt with.
A bit less epic than the canons, but I actually enjoyed the bit when Harry time-travels to prevent his mother's murder. And his animagus training was rather interesting.
(Hah, I bet THAT got your attention! And these weren't even actual SPOILERS.)

No, the real spoiler would be "Harry Potter, from the House of Slytheryn, gets sentenced for life in Azkaban". }:-)

I wonder whether MY own planned books can ever be made into movies. The second one will be quite a challenge, what with all the Domai-ish nudity and the fiction creatures. I'm thinking of Paul Verhoeven, he did something rather similar in Starship Troopers. What do you guys think?
The first one is already taking risks, what with the realistic kids regularly cussing or seeking out erotica in magazines.

Dave Nielsen said...

Pascal, your relentless schtick reminds me a lot of this guy

Pascal [P-04referent] said...

Wow, that Doctor colleague is good. Even Greg House doesn't have such awesome bedside manners! :-)

Note to self: yet another great series complete collection to get on DVD when I win the lottery.
But not too soon, mind you: better go easy on the ratpacking right now, chances are that I might change countries in the relatively near future. No joke. Lebanon's slowly falling to itsy-bitsy pieces. No Iraqi syndrome to be feared -yet!-, but that fat lady's steadily sinking, and the iceberg might tumble one fine morning. (What idiot once said that grease FLOATS?!?)

More on this when my latest blog post gets translated to English (I'm working on it). Long story short: thanks to the Syrian mess, our boundless national wisdom is attempting to hitch a ride on that same cattle wagon. (No, I DIDN'T mean "jump that bandwagon"! That would be way too classy for shtummie arabs...)

And to think my new hospital contract starts in a week... Might be my shortest job ever!
Especially if I (predictably) pull off such stuff on my anxious patients. Heck, the devil-may-care fun might be worth it!
"Don't worry, Mrs Kaputnik, while your husband's head injury is definitely fatal, I can assure you that all his other scrapes and bruises are insignificant."

Anonymous said...

Lebanon's slowly falling to itsy-bitsy pieces.

Hasn't it been doing that for the last 40+ years?

Pascal [P-04referent] said...

Actually, for the last 37 years, 3 months, 1 week and 5 days (give or take a few goats), but who's counting?

But never before were they such minute itty-bitties, especially in pieces tied... I mean "peace time"! It's getting real tough to keep them vaguely glued together these days.

Then again, I'm reminded of a similar medical condition in humans, called lepromatous leprosy. It can take many decades of losing random bits here and there before one actually does die from it, so... anything's possible. With enough bolts, stitches, demented cackling and high-voltage lightning enemas, the Country of the Phoenix might yet get up and stagger to the shocked and awed face of the aghast unbelieving world.

They once said that the bumblebee couldn't possibly fly, because "it's an aerodynamic aberration". Fluctuat nec mergitur, that's scenic Lebanon! ;-)

John Doe said...

I know I liked Let the Right One In a lot better than the book. What they cut out should have been cut by the book's editor.