Turning a book into a film is a difficult task… clearly. Books based on movies are some of the most notoriously ridiculous and/or bad, because if the book has a large fan base, that means it has a very critical fan base as well. However, sometimes filmmakers succeed and make movies that are actually better than the books they’re based on. Think I’m kidding? Keep reading to find out my picks.
1. American Psycho was originally a novel by Bret Easton Ellis. However, it’s the film adaptation starring Christian Bale that everyone thinks of, right? That’s generally a sign that while the book is good, the movie does an amazing job of transforming the story into something that’s gripping in an almost different way.
2. Fight Club was, and is, a very popular novel by Chuck Palahniuk. The novel was published in 1996 and the movie was released, starring Edward Norton and Brad Pitt, in 1999. Even though only three years separates book from movie, they might as well very completely different works. There are legions who love both the book and movie; those who love only the book; and those who worship the movie. Fight Club has become such a cult favorite that underground fight clubs actually exist. I think that’s a sign of a great movie, personally.
3. The Help was just released this summer, to a lot of rave reviews. I read the book shortly before I saw the movie and, while I enjoyed the book, I thought the movie was better. Why? I found Skeeter to be more likable and I preferred the way things were ordered in the movie. Plus, I found the movie more emotional and relatable. For whatever reason, The Help was a great movie made from a pretty-good book.
So what is it that these movies have in common? Personally, I think great movies that are based on books inevitably take the story and, instead of trying to regurgitate it 100 percent accurately on film, try to make something new out of it; they don’t change when it’s not necessary and they keep the message of the story, but they reorder it to make sense on film and change scenes to allow characters to come alive. There are huge differences between the two mediums — books and films communicate ideas, characters, and scenes very differently. When it comes down to it, it’s up to filmmakers to know the differences there and to alter them, invisibly, in a way that makes a great movie.
What do you think? What other movies can you think of are better than their book counterparts?