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The Book Turned Into Movies Genre

Updated on June 10, 2009

Angels & Demons Trailer

Angels & Demons Book

Reading Movies

Watching 'Angels & Demons' the other day got me to thinking about the books that I have read that have become movies.  It is a commonly held belief by readers that movies are notoriously worse than the the books they stem from.  In some instances, they seem to be getting better, but usually in the world of big-budget films.  For fans of the original literature, sometimes every miniscule change is taken bashed repeatedly into brick walls for all to hear.  When we saw HP: The Sorceror's Stone the first time, my cousin gave us a disertation that lasted the rest of the Thanksgiving holiday on what was missing or changed from the novel.  And while it's been some six or more years since that first one came out, I expect the same will happen with the next release.   So what does make the book better than the movie?  Or, in rare cases, the other way around?

For most avid readers, the general rule of thumb is read the book before you watch the movie.  That was actually a rule in my house growing up!  But I have noticed that the few times I stumbled on the book after seeing the movie, I usually liked the move even after reading the book.  I think that it has a lot to do with not having the same expectations.  But there are also different ways that this Book-Movie cycle occurs.

Interview With The Vampire--Anne Rice

Movie Cover. Image from Google Images.
Movie Cover. Image from Google Images.

Bridge To Terebithia

Book Cover.  Google Images.
Book Cover. Google Images.

10th Kingdom

Book and Movie Cover.  Google Images.
Book and Movie Cover. Google Images.

Virtually Identical

One particular book I attempted to read after seeing the movie was 'Interview With a Vampire' by Anne Rice.  The movie starred Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, Kirsten Dunst, and Christian Slater.  I found I couldn't read it.  Perhaps, later, it would have been better, or reading it now when it has been so long since I've seen the movie.  When I attempted to read it, though, it was practically identical, verbatim.  It made the book boring.  That was the first time that I realized that the movie did not have to perfectly reflect the book!  Another book that seemed to find great similarities in the movie, though it had been quite a long time since reading it, was 'Bridge to Terabithia'.  In this case, knowing the ending in either case ruined the effect for the other.  Well, a little.  It still got to me.  However, this was a much better option, either having read it first or put much distance between the reading and the viewing was much better.  Another side category that fits here is the book that actually came from the script of the movie.  'The 10th Kingdom' did this.  Of course it makes it much easier to see the movie before reading the book, if you are the type to line up first for the movie release (or tv mini-series release).  This experience offered credence to the distancing concept since I read it a year or so after watching it and enjoyed the book, though not as heartily as one might expect.  I do think that books written from scripts lack a certain depth that is hopefully provided by the actors.

What The....?

My greatest disappointment of all time (in regards to books and movies) must be 'Ella Enchanted'. The moment I heard that Anne Hathaway would play Ella, I knew problems were brewing. Don't get me wrong, I like Ms. Hathaway as an actress. But anyone who had read Levine's novel knew that she was the wrong one to play the lead. Then they started playing around with the tired, repeatedly used "Uncle Kills King and Acts as Regent" game. What was so incredibly disappointing in this instance was that the original book seemed beautifully primed for a movie. What was left when the studio was finished was completely unrecognizable except by name, curse, and general Cinderella theme.  Additionally disappointing, and somewhat embarrassing, is that I probably would have liked the movie without the book.   Ms. Hathaway has done this before, her break out movie "The Princess Diaries" was not recognizable as the original book.  Luckily for me I read the book after the movie, thereby appreciating both.

Ella Enchanted: Characters, Setting, Context, and Message all were lost in the movie...

Different, But Recognizable

I loved 'Pay it Forward' as a movie.  I also loved it as a book.  My mom didn't much like the movie, saying it strayed too far from the book, but I disagree.  Although the character backgrounds changed greatly, the underlying theme, and the major important bits and pieces were still there.  It gave me the feeling of the other without being a repeat.  So far, I find this to be my preferred version.  My all time favorite book is among this genre, 'The Princess Bride'.  For those of who havent' had the opportunity to read it, turn off the computer, go to your nearest book store, purchase it and read it immediately.  And DO NOT skip the intro.   Okay, that said, best book ever.  One other teensy commonality between these two books/movies is that I read the book after having watched the movie.  I'm certain it makes a difference, but know that the devastation of doing it the other way would not have had the severity of the ruination of Ms. Levine's book.

Stubborn Readers!

Okay, okay, I know most of you will hold on tight and fast to the golden rule of "read the book first!".  I know, because even with the evidence before, I still feel compelled to read before I watch.  And still you will bang your fists into the air and say "Wrong!  All wrong!".  I'll be doing it with you.  But, nonetheless, maybe you'll think about it before completely condemning the poor movie.  Unless it is "Ella Enchanted", then you don't need to.  It was "Wrong!  All wrong!".


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