Books to Movies: Three Great Screen Adaptations

See It Here! The Movie Is Better Than The Book!

Title: Terry Borton, Magic Lantern Showman  Attribution License : Photographer: Magic Lantern Shows
Title: Terry Borton, Magic Lantern Showman Attribution License : Photographer: Magic Lantern Shows

Make That "3+ Great Screen Adaptations"!

Up until recently, it has pretty much been a given that when a movie is made from a book, the book would always be better, and the movie would pale by comparison. These days, this is no ,longer the case. I don’t know what to attribute this to. Perhaps screen writing has become a more serious profession. Perhaps instruction in screenwriting has improved. Perhaps both. Whatever the reason, the result is a happy one, at least for those of us who enjoy movies. In the past year, I have seen three movies that outshone the original books in stellar ways. In the case of the first three movies listed in this article, I would definitely recommend just seeing the movie and skipping the book.

I am adding a few more Book-to-Movie reviews at the end of this article. Be sure to check them out!

The Prestige

Christian Bale and Michael Caine are just fabulous in this magical mystery movie that will keep you guessing until the end. The difference in quality and level of interest generated by the movie as compared to the book is just staggering!

Well, first of all, anything with Christian Bale is bound to be better than anything without him. Aside from that, when comparing the book, The Prestige, with the movie, it is almost as if the book were a rough draft and the movie the finished product. The movie, starring Christian Bale, Michael Caine and Hugh Jackman. Is tightly knit, tense, clever, and lovely to look at. It is well constructed. All the loose ends are tied up, everything is explained, and the ending is satisfying and just.

By contrast, the book by Christopher Priestly, is rather disjointed. Throughout the book, it is difficult to understand the logic behind the magic or the events - if there is any. Characters seem rather cardboard. The ending is illogical and trails off rather than coming to any sort of conclusion.

Both book and movie are about two young magicians who compete with each other to master the best illusions ever. One has a secret trick up his sleeve that allows him to beat the other, hands-down every time. This drives the second magician to distraction and literally around the world looking for a way to devise the best illusion. His quest takes him into a dark and bizarre world.

A Mediocre Book

A Great Movie

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A Wonderful Movie

A Pretty Good Book

In Her Shoes

This movie staring Toni Collette, Cameron Diaz and Shirley McClain is just lovely. It closely examines the relationship between two sisters and the grandmother they never knew after the suicide of the girls’ mother. The two sisters come to realize why they have grown to become so different from each other.

The older sister, Rose, has become isolated and parentified, while the younger sister, Maggie, never grows up. The knowledge of their mother’s mental illness and the guilt that has plagued their grandmother and father helps the young women realize what has gone wrong in each of their lives. Events are logical, and the story moves along at an interesting and engaging pace.

The book, by Jennifer Weiner, is quite good, but again, it is somewhat illogical. Events occurring in the book don’t make sense and are not believable. For example, Maggie, who is illiterate, teaches herself to read by hiding out in a closet on the Princeton campus for months. In the movie, this entire event is changed to have Maggie working in a nursing home while living with her grandmother in an active seniors community. There she befriends a retired professor who teaches her to read. This is a happy and logical change that makes the movie much better than the book.

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A Fantastic Movie!

Thanks! :)

I hope you will remember to rate this HUB (just above the COMMENTS section) and LIKE/TWEET it (just below the title).

Julie and Julia

There is absolutely no comparison between the book and the movie. The part of Julia Child is beautifully acted by Meryl Streep. The character of Julie is likeably and sympathetically portrayed by Amy Adams. Events are light-hearted, funny, and yet give us insight into the life of the complicated and larger than life, Julia Child. In special features, Julia Child’s relatives seem to be pleased with the movie, and I think Julia Child, herself, would be flattered and pleased.

By sharp contrast, the book is simply unreadable. Julie is a foul-mouthed, unlikable character. Events consist of one drunken, failed attempt to Master the Art Of French Cooking after another. If you enjoy reading about self-centered, apparently mentally ill alcoholics blundering mindlessly through life, you will enjoy this book. Otherwise, skip it. I put it down halfway through, as I just couldn’t tolerate another word. Julia Child found Julie Powell’s blog and project to be disrespectful. All I can say is, if the blog was anything like the book, I can certainly see why. The author seems to have just attached herself to Julia Child’s name for the purpose of making some money, and she has succeeded. Clearly, I do not recommend this book, the only redeeming feature of which (in my opinion) is a fine movie version.

Copyright:SuzanneBennett:May 19, 2010

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A Great Movie!

A Fair Book...

Forrest Gump - 1994

I re-watched this beloved classic for Thanksgiving this year! It is so well-known that I don't think it needs much of a description. As we all know, Forrest Gump , the story of a man of limited intelligence who manages to be party to just about every event that might be meaningful to a baby-boomer, is touching, funny, well-done, and moving - a solid 5 Stars, all the way! This charmer belongs in everyone's private collection.

What you may not know is that the book is rather dull. It has been years since I read it, but it is definitely one of the first examples of the movie being much, much better than the book. Apparently the author did not agree, because in his sequel, his version of Forrest gets a bit testy about the way the character was treated in the movie; however, I am sure that he is the only one who feels that way!

I have only one complaint about Forrest Gump , and I have had it since I first saw the movie in the theater over a decade ago. This is the movie that made me a real Gary Sinise fan. Gary Sinise acted circles around Tom Hanks in this movie, and he should have won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar rather than just being nominated for it.

That's all I have to say about that!

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Comments 21 comments

sabu singh profile image

sabu singh 6 years ago

Thank you for this insight Justmesuzanne. Truth to tell, I have not seen or read any of the selections. Shall do so soon.

justmesuzanne profile image

justmesuzanne 6 years ago from Texas Author

Thanks, Sabu! Enjoy! :)

Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 6 years ago from The Ozarks

Suzanne, I'm glad you found some examples where the movie is better than the book. What is The Prestige about? I've never heard of it before.

dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

I have not seen these movies or very many others lately. However, it does not surprise me that in some cases the movie might be better. If the book is not more than ordinary than a good screenwriter should be able to improve it. Often classics come off pale in movie form because the original work is a classic and cannot be improved upon.

justmesuzanne profile image

justmesuzanne 6 years ago from Texas Author

Aya, I think you would really like The Prestige. I think anyone would. It's about 2 magicians during Victorian times competing to best one another. It's devilishly clever and will have you guessing right down the last frame!

Dahoglund, that's a good point. In the past, movies from books were made from classics or at least really great books that everyone had read. Today, the books made to movies are more "seed" books that become popular because of the movie. Additionally, screenplays of really good books are becoming better because the author (Steven King, Amy Tan) insists on being involved and maintaining creative control.

BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 6 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

Good points here about authors being involved in the SP - because I have seen way too movies from books that were just embarrassingly bad. One example is the book "Q and A" which was excellent and such fun - and then turned into "Slumdog Millionaire" - which I found a westernized disgrace. UGH!

In your response you mention 'seed' books - and that is all so true - and '2012' is an example of such a book which is floating around because of the movie.

What an interesting way to do a movie hub. I'll look for "Prestige" - you do great creative movie hubs. Thanks so much!

justmesuzanne profile image

justmesuzanne 6 years ago from Texas Author

Thanks, BK! I have been so busy the last few months that I haven't written much. I am trying to rearrange my schedule and get back into it. I will look for the book, Q & A. I didn't think much of Slumdog Millionaire. :)

Maryanne Maguire profile image

Maryanne Maguire 6 years ago from Santa Monica, CA

Totally enjoyed Julie and Julia movie. Very entertaining and well done.

justmesuzanne profile image

justmesuzanne 6 years ago from Texas Author

Thanks, Maryanne! Yes, I thought so, too! :)

billyaustindillon profile image

billyaustindillon 6 years ago

I have seen Prestige and Julie and Julia and I have to agree both excellent movies and adaptations - though I haven't read Prestige myself but your review covers it nicely :)

justmesuzanne profile image

justmesuzanne 6 years ago from Texas Author

Thanks, Billy. Yes, I wouldn't really bother with the book if I were you! The movie is much, much better! :)

billyaustindillon profile image

billyaustindillon 6 years ago

Thanks for the tip suzanne :)

justmesuzanne profile image

justmesuzanne 6 years ago from Texas Author

My pleasure! :D

KenWu profile image

KenWu 6 years ago from Malaysia

From the three, I have only watched The Prestige and I definitely give it a five star. Never know that it was adapted from a book. And from your comment, it seems that the movie is better off than the book.

Well, perhaps In Her Shoes could be my next watch.

justmesuzanne profile image

justmesuzanne 6 years ago from Texas Author

Thanks, Ken! I'm sure you will enjoy IN HER SHOES. Toni Collette is like Christian Bale in that anything she appears in is bound to be bettered by her presence!

PaperNotes profile image

PaperNotes 5 years ago

Sometimes, it is frustrating to watch a film when you are expecting it will be just like what you have read from the book. This is because there are some books, probably the fantasy and fiction stories which are difficult to portray in movies. Good job!

justmesuzanne profile image

justmesuzanne 5 years ago from Texas Author

Thanks, yes, but it does seem like they are getting better and better at writing good screenplays.

toknowinfo profile image

toknowinfo 5 years ago

Excellent hub on this topic. I was disappointed in the movie version of DaVinci code compared to the book. It is frustrating when you don't see what you expect. I liked your hub very much. Rated up and useful.

justmesuzanne profile image

justmesuzanne 5 years ago from Texas Author

Thanks, yes, I was also disappointed in the DaVinci Code. I really like Audrey Tatou, but there seemed to be no chemistry between her and Tom Hanks. Also, there were a number of areas in the book that I felt were weak, and they just translated into the movie exactly as written in the book. I felt the screenwriters missed an opportunity to improve the pacing and logic of the story.

Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 2 years ago from Houston, Texas

I had not read any of the books but did see Julie and Julia and Forest Gump. I liked both of them but truly LOVED Forest Gump.

justmesuzanne profile image

justmesuzanne 2 years ago from Texas Author

Yes I have Forrest Gump on VHS tape! I watched it not long ago. It's a classic in the movie that made me a Gary Sinise fan for sure.

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