Weekly Geeks – Great Movie Adaptations

19Jul09

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This week’s Weekly Geeks asks:

With the release of Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince this past week, I thought it would be good to turn once again to movie adaptations. In March, with the release of Watchmen (using that as a jumping off point for discussion), I brought up the subject of worst movie adaptations. This time, I’d like to bring up best movie adaptations (not saying if the recent Harry Potter movie is or isn’t faithful to the book since I’ll be honest I haven’t read the book, but using the subject as a jumping off point for discussion).

So what are some of your favorite movie adaptations of books? Include trailers or scenes from Youtube if you’d like.

More oft’ than not, I think movies don’t live up to the books. Books leave so much to the imagination, whereas in movies, nothing is left to the imagination, which makes it still less enjoyable, as far as I’m concerned. For example, I think the hippogriff in the third Harry Potter movie (The Prisoner of Azkaban) looked more like a friendly dragon, than the deadly creature the book described.

If I had to choose my favorite movie adaptation, it would be Erich Segal’s Love Story. The movie starts off exactly as the book does:

What can you say about a twenty-five-year-old girl who died? That she was beautiful and brilliant? That she loved Mozart and Bach, the Beatles, and me.

While I can’t find a trailer for it on youtube, the main song on the soundtrack is equally touching and beautiful.

This is probably the only book that has almost reduced me to tears, and the movie did live up to its expectations.

Couple of others worth mentioning are Schindler’s List:

And, Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange. I did think the book was better here, though.

So, do you have any favorite adaptations? Do you find that you normally prefer books as well?

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24 Responses to “Weekly Geeks – Great Movie Adaptations”

  1. 1 rikkiscraps

    Oh, yes, a clockwork orange was really good. I loved Malcolm McDowell as Alex.

  2. 2 lahni

    I thought of Schindler’s List and although it was an important movie and book, I didn’t really enjoy either one of them, if you know what I mean? I was pretty young when I saw the movie and it was really disturbing for me.

  3. 3 Maree

    I hadn’t thought of Schindler’s List, but I haven’t read the book. A Clockwork Orange _ I’ve read the book but not seen the movie.
    Um.
    Happy Weekly Geeks :)

  4. I have to admit that I haven’t read or seen any of your pics – I probably should :o)

  5. @rikkiscraps : tell me about it. Did like the book more though – can’t explain why.

    @lahni : I thought it was a great adaptation – scary, and disturbing, as you say, but really well-made, and not hyperbolic as some of these things tend to get.

    @Maree : Time to do both? :)

    @Kristen : Probably :))

  6. I’m in two minds about A Clockwork Orange; I can’t choose between the film or book. I think, perhaps, the film just nudges in front but maybe that’s because Stanley Kubrick is one of my favourite directors.

  7. 7 Jodie

    I’ve been having trouble thinking of any good adaptations but Schindler’s List is a good one. The girl in the red coat is chilling.

  8. 8 Mish

    Hmm…I was pretty happy with the TV-movie of Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Mists of Avalon. The Hunchback of Notre Dame with Charles Laughton in the thirties was good too. Seeing Schindler’s List is enough for me, but I’d like to read Clockwork Orange.

  9. 9 unfinishedperson

    Quite a mix there, compared to other participants this week from what I’ve seen. Nicely done.

    I prefer books to movies most of the time. However, I can think of exceptions with Stardust being the most recent example.

  10. @uenohama : I think the book just edges it for me, just because I felt I got to know Alex better in it. Don’t get me wrong – the movie was fantastic, but… the book edges it, even if it’s by about an inch.

    @Jodie : It was an amazing touch by Spielberg though – it’s probably one of those things that will always be in your mind, long after some of the other scenes slip into the oblivion of your memory.

    @Mish : Should read Clockwork Orange :) I liked the Disney version of Hunchback of Notre Dame, but haven’t seen the 30s one. Not read the book either. I’ll keep an eye out for it.

    @unfinishedperson : Thank you. :) I haven’t read/seen Stardust, so… I was looking for a fun movie for the upcoming weekend, and think Stardust fits the bill!

  11. JURASSIC PARK!!! Loved the book and the movie. Also, Looking For Alibrandi the movie was great. I think I preferred the book with that, but it’s hard to hate a movie that stars Anthony Lapaglia

    • I thought of Jurassic Park, to be honest, but, I saw the movie when I was barely nine years old, and I read the book when I was thirteen or fourteen. I barely remember it, although I do remember enjoying both. I need to re-read/re-watch it.

      I haven’t actually heard of Looking for Alibrandi ’til right now. Haven’t seen much of Anthony LaPaglia either. Think he did appear in a few episodes of Frasier though?

      • 13 Mish

        I believe it was shortly after the movie’s release that I tried reading Jurassic Park, but I just couldn’t get into it. It’s one of the few books I gave up on.

  12. 14 Mish

    Clockwork is on the list. I want to re-read Hunchback, it’s been a long time. The best line from the 30’s film was Laughton as Quasimodo looking up at the gargoyles and saying, “Why couldn’t I be made of stone like you?”

    • Ahh! I wonder that same thing so many times… then I wonder what would happen if I came alive like Pinocchio (yes, I know, he was a wooden puppet, but… you could have a stone puppet as well!), and then my imagination runs away with me… I should watch the movie.

  13. I think Rosemary’s Baby is equally good as a book and a movie. I haven’t read it, but I imagine that The Godfather is better than the original. And I wonder why it is that I have no desire to ever read a Tom Clancy novel, but enjoy the movies made from those books, especially Hunt for Red October.

    • Hmm, that’s interesting – no desire to read the book of a movie you enjoy… only because, I’m the complete opposite. If I enjoy a movie, I have to dig out the book (if I know the book exists). For instance, I saw the latest Harry Potter on Wednesday, and then dug out the book to re-read, despite the fact that it’s my least favorite in the series.

      Godfather – I haven’t seen the movie, but the book was wonderful!

      • 18 Mish

        teacherninja, I’m with you on enjoying Clancy films but having no interest in the books. It really depends on genre and the author though. Thinking of books I read specifically because of the films… the Princess Bride because the film is a long time favorite (glad I read it, movie’s better) and Rod Serling’s New Stories from the Twilight Zone because, hey, written by the mastermind himself.

        uncertainprinciples, the Godfather is a great film, and a classic. Haven’t read the book though. Reading books after seeing movies is a case by case basis. Queued up, I have Coraline because I like Gaiman’s writing, Michael Ende’s the Neverending Story because it’s a long time favorite film and a friend already screened the book for me, and more recently, A Clockwork Orange because of all the recent discussion and it’s just wacky enough to catch my interest.

      • I’ve been eyeing Coraline for ages. Really wanted to see the movie as well. Was one of those things that didn’t happen. Thing is, I can’t decide if I should read Coraline or The Graveyard Book first.

        I’m going to try finding a copy of The Princess Bride.

      • 20 Mish

        I liked Coraline so much I watched it twice in the theatre. For me to even go once is a lot. Tough choices. Both are in my queue.

        Princess Bride was a fun read, and for me, more enjoyable because I heard and saw everyone/everything from the film.

  14. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to finish a weeklygeeks post about my favourite book adaptation: Brideshead Revisited (the tv-series, of course)!

    I just wanted to say that I never ever want to see or read Love Story again. It made me too sad :(

  15. 23 deucekindred

    Hmmm usually the book is way better than the movie but then I believe that some films are good companions to the book. No Country for Old Men is one. Another is To Kill a Mockingbird. I also think Notes of a Scandal is an excellent adaptation.

    As for a Clockwork Orange I’ve got a lot of mixed feelings. The fact that Kubrick didn’t realise that there are two versions of the book already bothers me a bit. In a way the film loses it’s meaning for Alex truly learns how to be good through growing up. But then there’s a lot of style and it’s visually how I imagined the book to be. I just love the coloration of Alex’s house.

    The only two films which I thought were better than the book was Louis Malle’s adaptation of Raymond Queneau’s Zazie dans la Metro and David FIncher’s interpretation of Fight Club.

    I think a good adaptation is one which keeps to the spirit of the book. I place Mary Harron’s version of American Psycho (Brett Easton Ellis) and Danny Boyle’s Trainspotting (Irvine Welsh)

    • I agree with your first statement right there – book is way better than the movie most of the time. I haven’t seen No Country for Old Men, To Kill A Mockingbird, and Notes of a Scandal. I do love all three books though, so maybe I should change that. I thought the movies would ruin perfectly amazing books for me.

      Other than A Clockwork Orange, I haven’t seen/read any of the others in the list, although Fight Club has been on my wishlist for a while, as has Trainspotting. Thanks a lot for the recommendations – I’ll probably be buying some books/seeing some movies soon!! :)


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