Tuesday, November 30, 2010

What Books? The Movie Is Better Than The Book

What Books? The Movie Is Better Than The Book

I have a new feature called "What Books?" I have so many book memories from my childhood. Different books touched me in different ways and had came to me at important times. I plan on running this feature every other week and featuring books that I love(d) for different reasons.

Right now, a lot of the topics and books that come to mind feature books that I liked when I was in elementary and middle school more than books I liked in high school and later. So there is more of a middle-grade focus.

See prior editions of What Books? here:

Favorite Not-Super-Popular Book Series
Favorite Ghost/Scary Stories

Please feel free to contribute your own favorite books in the comments or post similarly on your blog and link to this. If people like this feature as it gets going, I think it might be a fun meme.

Today's edition:

What movie did you think was better than the book? Everyone always says that the book is better than the movie. This is usually for good reason. For example, consider The Golden Compass or Cheaper By The Dozen (Steve Martin version). Both were substantially changed, in what I think were bad ways, from the book. Even movies that I enjoy, like the Twilight and Harry Potter films, pale in comparison to their book versions. The flaws in a book-adaptation movie are largely understandable. You can't bring all the lovely details from a book into a film without making it five hours long and five hundred million dollars. Also, a reader has an image in her head of what the actors look like, speak like, and act like. It's inevitable that at least one of the characters in a movie version won't fit the version in the reader's mind.

Very rarely, despite all the perils of movie adaptation, you find a movie that you actually like better than the book. Perhaps it is extremely loyal to the book or perhaps it adds a twist that works better than the book. Or perhaps you saw the movie before reading the book, so it shapes your thinking about the work.

Anne Of Avonlea:

Kevin Sullivan is a genius. He's turned several beloved L.M. Montgomery books into movies or TV shows, including: The Story Girl and The Golden Road (Avonlea TV show) and Jane of Lantern Hill. He is best known for his adaptations of Anne Of Green Gables, Anne Of Avonlea, and Anne: The Continuing Story. Anne Of Green Gables is a fabulous movie with a loyal adaptation and perfect actors (especially handsome Gilbert Blythe). Anne: The Continuing Story was interesting, but not nearly as good as the prior two. Too much time had passed and the script varied too much from the plot.

Annd Of Avonlea the movie actually combines Anne Of Avonlea, Anne Of The Island, and Anne Of Windy Poplars. Characters are both added and omitted. Major plot points, such as Anne's teaching, are changed drastically from the book. There are so many reasons this should be awful, but I loved it. I love seeing Anne teach at Kingsport. I love the character Emmeline Harris, and her prominence to the story. The unlikely friendships with Katherine Brooke and Pauline Harris are also fascinating. I love the development of Anne's relationship with Gilbert and the addition of the dark and handsome Morgan Harris.

Despite my love for the movie in general, I think the real reason that I preferred the movie version of Anne Of Avonlea over Anne Of Avonlea, Anne Of The Island, and Anne Of Windy Poplars is that I saw it first. I didn't read the books until I was in college. By that point, I'd seen the movie multiple times, and it shaped my opinion of the books. It's amazing how influential the order of viewing/reading can be.

A few other movies that I liked as much or better than the book (also because I saw them when I hadn't read, or hadn't read for a long time, the books):

The Secret Garden

A Little Princess


Little Women













What movies have you liked better than the book? Why do you think you preferred the movie?

22 comments:

  1. I think Practical Magic was better than the book. The movie was more exciting and the characters had more personality imo.

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  2. The movie of Forrest Gump was soooooo much better then the book. I read it after I'd seen the movie and I couldn't believe it was so awful.

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  3. I have to agree that The Secret Garden and the Anne of Green Gables movies were both very well done. I also enjoyed the Disney series, Avonlea, way back when. I too, saw the movie/television show before reading the book.

    I didn't even know Forrest Gump wa a book!

    I would add Born Free to the list. It's quite old, but the movie is tons better than the book.

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  4. I adored both The Secret Garden and A Little Princess! I could go for watching those right now:) I definitely agree on The Secret Garden, that book was a little slow for me and I enjoyed it onscreen so much more. I never read A Little Princess. Love this feature Alison!

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  5. The Colour Purple was the first film to come to mind - far better than the book I thought. Then as I've just finished reading and reviewing A Christmas Carol I'd have to say that I prefer the movie versions to the book and especially A Muppet's Christmas Carol

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  6. Few will agree with me, but I prefer the Lord of the Rings movies to the books. Also, I'd re-watch Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix multiple times over before even thinking of diving back into the book.

    ~Brooke

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  7. Maybe not BETTER, but at least as thought provoking was Revolutionary Road. Read the book (which was wonderful) and then see the movie (which was amazing). What a great experience!

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  8. I definitely agree with you on The Secret Garden--I love the movie, the book not so much.

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  9. I really enjoyed the book/filmcomparison of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. I still haven;t decided which one I like better, but it was a great story and phenomenal film as well.

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  10. I have seen Anne of Green Gables a million times. My nieces and daughters love it too! Great post and I totally agree with you!

    ~Jen

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  11. I think I might like that version of Little Women better than the book, too (of course, I hadn't read LW at the time either).

    The most perfect book-to-movie adaptation is 1995's Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth though. It has the advantage of being six hours long, so it can cover all the same ground the book does. I think I watch it five times a year at least. I think of it as a companion to the book (which I had read before seeing the movie). It makes me love the original even more.

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  12. I can't agree on Anne of Avonlea, but that's because the book has been a favourite long before I even knew there was a film. I do love the first two films, but the books win for me. The Princess Bride is a film I like better than the book, and as someone mentioned above, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - I don't enjoy reading the book as the Umbridge character is so prominent and so horrible I can't even enjoy hating her. She's still nasty in the film, but it is less of a chore as it is much abridged from the pages and pages of the book.

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  13. I definitely have to agree with you on The Secret Garden! I also loved A Little Princess as a movie much more than the book :)

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  14. I love The Anne films but I adore Road to Avonlea even more. I'm getting the last box set for Christmas and I think i'm going to cry when I've finished the last episode!
    The Little Princess film is a wonderful adaption but I love the book equally :)

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  15. Mines are the Lord of the Ring movies, Anne of Green Gables and the first Bridget Jones movie which was hilarious and I used to watch it all the time.

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  16. Good choices! I love, love, love the Anne of Green Gables movie (though the book was really good, too, the movie IS Anne to my mind). The Secret Garden, Little Women, and A Little Princess all make my list too. These were all phenomenal movies.

    I also agree with Brooke and Jenny N. about The Lord of the Rings. These movies made the characters come alive, and I found Tolkien's writing to be a little...detached?

    Add me on the list for The Princess Bride, too. The book was good, but the movie is awesome.

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  17. I personally liked The Lovely Bones and It better then the book. Also, a little off topic but the tv show Vampire Diaries is way better then the book series :)

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  18. I've never read the book but I consistently hear from others that Fight Club the movie is better than the book. Also, I have to agree with what other people said above: I definitely liked the LotR movies more than the books.

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  19. Great question, there are 3 immediates I can think of and I also think the books were great but movie WOWSA fantastic, Silence of the Lambs, Notebook and Fight Club.

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  20. Your right, fun post and comments.

    I definitely agree with Anne of Green Gables, Fight Club, LotR, and The Color Purple.

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  21. I agree with The Boy in the Striped Pajamas and Bridget Jones's Diary (#1) - but Lord of the Rings and Order of the Phoenix. Scoff! Poo! Get the heck outta town.

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  22. I agree with Bridget Jones's Diary and I also have to include The Devil Wears Prada. The book made the main character way too whiny and awful that by the time I was done with it, I literally threw it into a recycling bin. HATED it, but I still adore the movie.

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