Monday, March 01, 2010

Monday Movie Meme: Book vs Film

Molly is beginning to wonder if there are actually any original screenplays anymore because it seems that everything is either a re-make of an existing film or based on a book. Sometimes the movie comes off better than the book -- more often that is not the case. It likely depends upon which you came across first. Share on your blog movie versions of books and your take on them, linking back to The Bumbles. And don't forget to visit your fellow participants!

Heather has been wondering the same thing as Molly, if there is really such a dearth of quality scripts in Hollywood these days that they have to remake every movie ever made, even when there was absolutely nothing wrong with the original. Heather also had a film lit class in college, in which students read a number of works ranging from classical to contemporary, then watched the movies based on them. Here are a few she remembers.

* The Accidental Tourist (1988) -- Based on the book by Anne Tyler. I loved the book, the movie (Geena Davis, William Hurt) was okay. Not a five star movie, but definitely a lot better than most movies based on books.

* Hamlet by William Shakespeare -- "Gertrude, do not drink!" I've read and then seen multiple versions of Hamlet. We read it in HS, then saw the play performed at APT, starring Randel Duk Kim (pre-Matrix). It was phenominal! In Film Lit we read the play, then watched two of the many movie versions, The 1948 version staring Laurence Olivier, and the 1990 Mel Gibson rendition. Other than the invention of Technicolor, there wasn't much difference between scripts. Both were quite good.

* The Grapes of Wrath (1940) -- Based on the novel by John Steinbeck. Great Depression-era novel. The movie version did not disappoint. How could you possibly go wrong with John Ford and Henry Fonda?

* The French Lieutenant's Woman (1981) -- Based on the novel by John Fowles. This was quite an original "telling" of the story. Instead of a straight-forward movie based on the book, the script was about two characters (Meryl Streep and Jeremy Irons) who fall in love while filming a movie based on the novel. I thought it a fresh, original idea.

* One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975) -- Based on the Ken Kesey novel. Who could forget this "crazy" cast of characters that included Jack Nicholson and Danny DeVito?

* In Cold Blood (1967) -- Very faithful to the chilling true story as told by Truman Capote.

This is definitely a topic that could be discussed ad infinitum, but I'll be kind and stop here. *g*


The Gal Herself said...

Ah! The Grapes of Wrath! I'm still moved every time I hear Tom give that, "I'll be there" speech.

Alice Audrey said...

This is one of the reasons I'd rather be a novelist, even though my writing lends itself to screen writing. That, and not too many people pay attention of screen play by lines.

hmsgofita said...

Oh yeah! I haven't seen a lot of those. I've seen Grapes of Wrath and both the book and movie are haunting. Hamlet is always a classic!

Here's my post

kaye said...

a lot of movies there I haven't seen, I have read a few of the books though.

The Bumbles said...

I loved The Accidental Tourist - the book. I still remember the cover with that winged armchair. The movie was well cast I think. Not as good as the book - but like you said, a good try.

Tim King said...

Filmmakers have been adapting novels and short stories to screen for a long, long time. Ditto remaking old movies. Some of my favorite classic films were actually remakes of earlier films. (Yours probably, too.)

And modern filmmakers do not always rip off earlier work. But the ones who do seem to get noticed more, probably because the earlier work paved the way for easier, more effective marketing. When Dear John comes out in theaters, the movie studios have to do much less work promoting it (because of the novel that came before) than when a completely original film comes out.

In fact, looking back at a post on my own blog from around Valentine's Day, most of my favorite romantic movies were either remakes (e.g., The Lake House, Waterloo Bridge), or based on a book (e.g., A Good Woman), or are original but unknown indie films (e.g., Broken English, I'm Reed Fish). It's not that the completely original films don't exist anymore; it's just that by the time they build up a fan-base (if ever), they're not "new" anymore.