Five Movies You Should Read
The book is always better than the movie, or so they say. But some great movies were originally books. We all know about by Margaret Mitchell. And Gone with the WindThe Wizard of Oz by Frank L Baum. But there are actually a great variety of films that look as good, or better, on screen than they did between two dustcovers.
And then there are the stories that are simply so well told by both their orginal author and the director/screenwriter partnership that they can be enjoyed interchangeably. Or at least, by all audiences in either venue.
The following list will make great gifts (or even gift sets) for those hard-to-buy-for members of your holiday list. Or a great gift for yourself. Check them out, at your local bookstore or your library.
The Last Unicorn by Peter Beagle
I'm not sure anyone who grew up in the 80's missed this delightful animated movie about the unicorn who wonders if she's the last of her kind.
The animation is beguiling, if not up to today's standards, the story is charming, and the soundtrack is still pleasant. My daughter used to listen to the title song nightly. But what many people don't realize is that there's also a novel.
Unlike many book-to-movie translations, after reading the book we can still enjoy the movie just as much. Sure, there's more that could be in there. But it's a kid movie. And the book just has too much 'stuff' to fit into a two hour time frame. The book is written for adults young and old, it's a beautiful telling with plenty of humor and possible symbolism. (I like symbolism. My daughter says it's crazy and sometimes a unicorn is just a unicorn. Not a symbol of innocent times being chased by the red bull of technology...but I digress.) Schmendrick and Molly's relationship is a little more evolved in the book as well, but only a little.
This book should be added to everyone's to be read list. And it makes a great gift for the fantasy lover on your shopping list. It's appropriate for ages 12 and up or so.
The Princess Bride By William Goldman (or Morgenstern, depending on the edition)
"As you wish," is the stable boy's repeated sentiment when Buttercup has a request. And audiences everywhere swooned at the satirical swashbuckler that followed. Director Rob Reiner brought the tongue-in-cheek novel to life on screen, and did an amazing job breathing life into Goldman's work.
The novel itself was originally published as an 'abridged version' of a much longer narrative by S Morgenstern. Goldman presented himself as the editor and his editorial comments are found throughout the book (although there was no original). He also berates the publisher for editing out his 'original' scene and invites readers to write to the publisher if they want to read it. You can still contact the publisher for an updated email entailing fictionalized legal battles. this is one cult following that encompasses both literary and screen audiences.
You may remember loving the movie from the time you were about 10 on up. The book is great for reading aloud (after all, it's told as a narrative) for tweens and teens. Yes, you can get your teens to enjoy the family read aloud again...
Shoeless Joe by Ray Kinsella
"If you build it, he will come," Kevin Costner made history (or at least memories) as the Iowa farmer who started hearing voices and plowed under his corn field. The film is fondly remembered by fans, some of who still quote the mysterious voices.
But first, it was a book. This book actually translated fairly well to the screen. There is more information in the book, of course, but the movie version was clear. In the book, the author hunted down is actually Salinger. But of course, in the movie he's changed to Terence Mann. I'm not sure if that makes a difference to anyone, but it was an interesting side note for me.
I'm not sure if it's a must read, but it's definitely a must read if you're a Field of Dreams fan. And, like the other books on this list, it won't ruin your enjoyment of the movie in the future. However, although the movie is appropriate for kids, the book isn't likely to be enjoyed by kids under 14.
Bedknobs and Broomsticks by Mary Norton
Who doesn't remember and love Angela Lansbury as a bumbling witch? Well, before the "Murder, she Wrote" actress took over the role, Miss Price was penned by the beloved children's author, Mary Norton. The original version will delight young and old, and makes a wonderful bedtime read as you follow the adventures of Carey, Charles and little Paul. The book is told in two parts, The first summer that they meet Miss Price, and a few years later when they happen to be reunited.
When you're done, you can enjoy the movie. All over again. Both are totally appropriate for all ages, and can be enjoyed by the youngest of children as long as they're ready to listen to chapters.
The Ghost and Mrs. Muir
Any romance lover knows the allure of this movie. The crackling chemistry between Rex Harris and Gene Tierney is still sizzling. If you are one of those lucky people who can put yourself into the time frame of a movie, Mrs. Muir's strength and pride are amazing. And the bedroom scene is much more amusing.
But did you know that this classic black and white film was actually based on a book? I must say that I enjoyed the book just as much as the movie, but nothing will ever beat the charm of the original film. You can read this book and watch this movie as many times as you like...neither will ever grow old.
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