Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Something From Nothing

I recently caught part 2 of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Long time readers of this blog might remember I was highly critical of book 7 after being a huge fan of the first 6. I am happy to say I think the movies, both part 1 and 2 improved on the flawed aspects of that last novel, so I'm hereby decreeing  that the movie Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows is better than the book. This place the story in rarefied company as far as I am concerned. Dang few movies can claim that status in my opinion but here are my top five movies that were better than the book they were based upon.

#5 One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest I saw the movie long before I read the book and I'm sure picturing Jack Nicholson jaded me somewhat, but truthfully author Ken Kesey's style of story telling simple did not work well for me.

#4 Sideways Again I saw the movie first. I enjoyed it so much I sought out the novel but the characters neurosis didn't come off as endearing on the page as it did in the hands of Paul Giamatti.

#3 The Shawshank Redemption I liked Stephen Kings version titled Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption, but the movie is one of my all time favorites. Technically a novella and not a novel I didn't realize until half way through this one that it was based on King's story and that I'd read it. Not until the poster came into play.

#2 Big Fish Again, I saw the movie before the book. I sense a trend.

#1 Forrest Gump I recently had a battle with a friend over this one.  Her claim is that both sucked but the super sugary sweet movie was too saccharine. I claim at least the movie made you feel good and the soundtrack was excellent. Reading the novel was pure torture for me and I lost track of the times I flung the book aside while exclaiming bullshit. I tend to avoid the top grossing movies and books. Reluctantly I usually get around to watching or reading them but not until the fad has passed. I actually read Forrest Gump when the movie was the big thing and for a while I thought the American public had gone mad but then I saw the movie and thought. "huh, that wasn't half as bad as I expected.

Okay so let's hear it, What movie/book did I forget? And a follow up. What is the best 1,2 combination of great book and stellar movie? Me? I'm going with Nobody's Fool by Richard Russo and starring Paul Newman.


Cloudia said...

I like these choices, Trav

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Sandra Cormier said...

I read The Princess Bride years ago, before the movie. I loaned the book out and never got it back.

When the movie came out, all the little nuances from the book rushed back.

Last month I bought a used copy to replace the lost one, and I'm reading it now. Except for some cut scenes and the Fred Savage angle, it stays true to the book. I can hear Inigo in my head as I read.

Rocketstar said...

Glad to hear that about HP, taking the kids this weekend!

Debra She Who Seeks said...

The movie of Bridget Jones' Diary improved on the book tremendously simply by making her two romances simultaneous instead of consecutive as they were in the book. The scriptwriters had a much better sense of how to make a plot dynamic than the author did.

Charles Gramlich said...

I did like the book "Deathly Hallows." I will definitely see the movie. LIked the first part of the movie.

jjdebenedictis said...

I've got two additions:

1) Blade Runner

The novella "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" was...interesting? But the movie was beautiful, brilliant, and had something powerful to say about what it means to be human.

2) Children of Men

It's almost not fair to make the comparison because the book and the movie are only vaguely similar. The book is literary and not to my taste, while the movie is one of the most potent works of art I've ever seen.

And what I said about Blade Runner being beautiful, brilliant and having something powerful to say about being human? Children of Men does all that, but ten times better.

G said...

Never really did either of what you did, only because I'm not a fan of movies being created from books.

Question for you though:

Did you ever read the follow-up to "Forrest Gump"?

Janna Qualman said...

Really? I didn't like Sideways. But I'll give you that Giamatti was genius, as he always seems to be.

I'm with you. A film can never fully represent its book version, and rarely are the movies better.

Travis Erwin said...

Sandra - I've never read or seen Princess Bride

G - No. The first was enough for me.

Angie said...

The Flame Is Love, a historical romance by Barbara Cartland. I came into romance through the historicals, but I didn't get into Barbara Cartland for whatever reason. When I saw this movie coming on TV, though, I was excited to watch it; even now, true historical romance movies are incredibly rare.

The movie was good, I liked all the characters (three main characters, two guys and a girl) and love the way it wrapped. So fine, Cartland must have some chops; I headed to the local used bookstore and found a copy. Read it. Good, good, good... the movie was much more true to the original than any other movie-from-a-book where I'd experienced both. Until the ending. O_O

Toward the end of the story, the Guy had made a huge mistake and acted like a dirtbag to the Girl because he didn't have all the facts. She stomped off and he stomped off in the other direction, and ended up talking to his brother, who hit him a few times with a cluebat. Guy goes "Yikes!" and hurries off to make up with the girl.

Okay, so far the same in both versions. In the movie, he finds her in her room, stomping around and muttering, throwing stuff into her suitcase. She sees him come bursting in the door and immediately starts yelling at him, telling him to go away, get out of her sight, she'd never marry him if he were the last man on earth and cetera. He has to do some serious grovelling to get her to even calm down, much less finally agree that okay, she'll forgive him the ONE time and they're engaged again.

In the book, which I read second, he goes to her room and finds that she'd thrown herself down on the bed and was crying her eyes out. As soon as he comes in, she looks up and is all, "Oh, I'm so sorry, I really-really did love you all along, you have to believe me, PLEEEEEASE marry me!" Which of course allowed him to be the Big Man and explain that yes, he'd talked to his brother and now he understood and forgave her. I think he might have muttered a bare "sorry" in there somewhere. She was all smiles, wiped her tears, and it's happily ever after.


Yeah. Book ending sucked rocks. I think it's telling, too, that the script followed the book almost exactly (which is unbelievably rare in a movie adaptation) up until the end. Obviously the producer/director/whoever put his/her foot down and absolutely insisted on changing the ending, and the movie is much better for it.


Bill Crider said...

Gotta say I love the novel version of CUCKOO'S NEST. Back in the olden days when I was a graduate assistant, we had a saying: "When all else fails, teach THE CUCKOO'S NEST." Students loved it, the graduate assistants loved it, and it was win-win all the way. That was years before the movie came out.

WordVixen said...

Mary Poppins. Definitely. And Princess Bride.

I really liked book 7, but I was just ecstatic that the movies (part one and two) were good as opposed to the monstrosities that they created for books 4-6. *shudder*

WordVixen said...

Oh yes! Debra's right- Bridget Jones (both the first and the second). I loved the books too- but I loved them as a separate entity. I prefer the movies, but in a totally different way.