The Book is ALWAYS Better!

Cover of "The Scarlet Letter"

Sirius? How can I forgive you?

I’ll just let you know right now, I read The Huffington Post everyday. As an aspiring journalist, this embarrasses me, since HuffPost isn’t exactly the most credible, professional, or even copy-edited place on the web to get your news, but it updates constantly and satisfies my basic need to get the day’s headlines. That, and it has a “Books” section, which I link to frequently. So, if you’re annoyed by the reposting, too bad!

Yesterday, HuffPost released a list of “7 Worst Film Adaptations,” with videos for each entry. Here they are!

  1. The Scarlet Letter (1995) with Demi Moore and Gary Oldman
  2. Fever Pitch (2005) with Drew Barrymore and Jimmy Fallon
  3. The Time Traveler’s Wife (2009) with Rachel McAdams and Eric Bana
  4. I Am Legend (2007) with Will Smith
  5. Dune (1984) with Kyle MacLachlan
  6. The Cat in the Hat (2003) with Mike Myers and Dakota Fanning
  7. A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004) with Jim Carrey
          I’ve seen #1, 3, and 7, and I completely agree! I haven’t read The Time Traveler’s Wife, but the movie was depressing, confusing, and lacking chemistry. I don’t know how accurate it was, but the ending left me with that “Well, there’s a couple hours I’ll never get back” feeling.
          The Scarlet Letter, however, was so horrible you can’t help but crack up, which is why it’s mocked all the time (most recently in last year’s modern adaptation, Easy A, with the adorable Emma Stone). Hawthorne’s novel is one of my favorites: his writing is complex but beautiful, and the story was so moving. Let’s just hope Demi Moore in a bathtub was enough to stop him from rolling over in his grave!
          Last on the list, I read all of Lemony Snicket’s books, and loved their sinister, mysterious stories. I thought the movie’s casting was fine, but their attempt to combine the first three novels was the most unfortunate event of all, and I’m just glad they were smart enough not to make more sequels.
          I always take the side of the book, but I also look forward to their movie counterparts, with the hope that the magic of the words will be just as stellar on screen. And there are some great adaptations out there: Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter (except #3), Fight Club, The Godfather, The Princess Bride, among others.
          But there’s one that didn’t make the list which definitely should have: The Golden Compass (2007) with Daniel Craig and Nicole Kidman. I wrote a scathing review on BridgeToTheStars.Net, which no longer exists on the site, but here were my main complaints:
  1. Hollywood’s cowardice in not addressing the religious themes. In case you didn’t know, the author Philip Pullman is an atheist–GET OVER IT! In his modern re-telling of Milton’s Paradise Lost, Pullman mocked the Catholic Church and its teachings on original sin and puberty. But since the producers were scared of losing profits and Kidman is Catholic, what fans got was a watered-down version of Pullman’s exquisite fantasy tale, which I think is so much worse than no movie at all.
  2. The director. Chris Weitz? Really??? The same guy who made American Pie??? For shame…
  3. Everything else that was left out. All the real violence of Iorek’s fight, the inaccuracies with the characters, and–of course–the ending. I won’t spoil it, but fans know exactly what I’m talking about!
          Maybe one day, someone will correct these massive wrongs and live up to Pullman’s best work. But until then, I’m going to return to pretending this abomination never happened.
          What other movie adaptations make you cringe? Any that surpass the books? Send me your rants!!!
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8 thoughts on “The Book is ALWAYS Better!

  1. Its hard to disagree with your analysis. But for what it’s worth there are three that weren’t as good as the book, but close and that captured the authors purpose fairly closely. “A river runs through it.” It’s damn hard to duplicate Maclean’s writing on the screen, but Redford came real close. “Message in a bottle.” I’m a Sparks fan and I thought this was well done (Thanks to Robin Wright’s portral of Theresa Osborne) And more recently “Water for Elephants” was well done. My human has a book that is being discussed for a movie and something akin to “The Scarlet Letter” is his fear!
    Sandy
    http://www.sandysays1.wordpress.com

  2. Don’t bother reading The Time Traveler’s Wife. You said the movie was depressing and confusing? So was the book. (I reviewed it on my blog.) The only reason I didn’t give up was because my roommate loved it and she wanted so badly for me to love it too…but I just didn’t. I can’t speak to whether or not it was better than the movie, since I haven’t seen it, but I can say that the book is not worth the week or so I spent on it…or the money I spent on buying it.

  3. Aw, I actually really liked The Time Traveler’s Wife (and haven’t read the book). I thought it was one of the sweeter, more genuinely romantic films that has come out recently, and the concept of a guy who spontaneously time-travels is a really cool one!

  4. Great discussion going here – The Time Traveler’s Wife is one of the best books I’ve ever read. I can understand how the movie was hard to watch if you hadn’t read the book. Give the book a chance, though.

    I agree on The Golden Compass. The His Dark Materials series is so fabulous, deep, and complex. Though I don’t agree with everything in the books (or rather, the views behind the books – I’m not Catholic, but am Orthodox.) they are some of my favorite books, and I was really disappointed in the movie. And I assume they are not going to make the last two movies with all the negative press.

    Two others that I can think of: The Hours and Holes.

    Hey, are you on twitter?

    • No, I’m not on Twitter–yet. I know as an aspiring journalist, I should be! But thanks for reading!

      It seems that there’s mixed reviews on The Time Traveler’s Wife! Of course, I shouldn’t judge too much without reading it. But I’m glad you were still able to appreciate The Golden Compass. If you like Pullman and would like to read a series that doesn’t focus on religion, check out his Sally Lockhart series.

      Now, I actually liked The Hours and Holes, but I’ve only read the second. But I wasn’t too picky in sixth grade! 🙂

  5. Pingback: Top Ten Favorite Film Adaptations of Books | Book Club Babe

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