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John Klima
Posted on Thursday, June 05, 2003 - 06:04 am:   

OK, we've talked a lot about movies on this board, so I thought I would start a thread to try and tie our literary bent into our love of film. This thread is a place to discuss favorite adaptations of literary works (there will be another thread for least favorite...). There are no restrictions; you can talk everything from Shakespeare and Anthony Burgess to Bob Kane and Howard Waldrop. Anything. If you have a predilection for video games made into movies, list those too (although they might be better suited for the least favorite thread). Even remakes of foreign films are fair play here. The only rule is that the film you are talking about if adapted from its original source.

Leaving an enormous amount of room open for discussion, I'll begin.

Here are two films that I feel are the most faithful translations of book to film that I have ever seen:

Rosemary's Baby
Deliverence

And, here are two adaptations that I enjoyed very much, but haven't read the source material (or if I did eventually read the source material, it was years after I saw the movie):

Bladerunner
Dune (David Lynch version)

What about you?

JK
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John Klima
Posted on Thursday, June 05, 2003 - 07:03 am:   

OH, just want to mention that I thought of this the other night when I caught part of the new Time Machine with Guy Pearce. It looked great, but I didn't watch the whole thing, sure that it was going to go all Hollywood effecty on me at the end. Last night, I watched most of the orignial Swedish INSOMNIA (fell asleep around 11:45PM and missed the end) and felt, wow, this is a great movie, I need to find it some time and tape it so I can watch the whole thing.

JK
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Robert Devereux
Posted on Thursday, June 05, 2003 - 08:46 am:   

Something I've thought about a bit is what films are better than the source books. The ones I could think of are

Stir of Echoes: books is OK, film is quite creepy

Lost World: meaning the BBC/A&E production. The book is fairly uninteresting, but the BBC production gave the characters more depth and introduced more interesting plots.

Lord of the Rings: I know a lot of fantasy fans would lynch me for saying this. I love the book, but it had a flaws that the films address. Too many characters in the book had no personality and no motivation beyond being heroic. The film gives them separate personalities and motivations. Plus, the fate of the world is a stake, but everyone takes such a leisurely pace in the books. Saving the world should be more urgent.


The most faithful adaptation to film I've seen was Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas. The black & white Haunting was also very faithful (and one of the few films that I found scary).

With regard to Dune, I saw it far before I read the book. I found the film an incomprehensible mess. Only after I read the book did the film make any sense, and I still thought it was terrible.


The original film of the Time Machine was fairly good, but the Guy Pearce one sucked.
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Chuck Hogle
Posted on Thursday, June 05, 2003 - 02:47 pm:   

Robert, I've got a noose tied up...though I do love the Lord of the Rings movies almost as much as the books.

I've never read The World According to Garp, but the movie was good.
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The Godfather
Posted on Thursday, June 05, 2003 - 04:31 pm:   

Jaws. The Princess Bride.
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ben peek
Posted on Thursday, June 05, 2003 - 06:20 pm:   

bringing out the dead.

there were some changes, mostly to the end, but i thought it was a good adaption of a book i thoroughly enjoyed and recommend to people. (i prefer the ending in the book, i believe.)

fight club.

it's not hard to have a good adaption of this, since i think the book was awful. just poorly written, in my mind. chuck (because i can't remember to spell his last name) needs some discipline when writing his prose, i believe.
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Rick Klaw
Posted on Thursday, June 05, 2003 - 09:31 pm:   

Here are a hnadful of fantastic adaptations:

The Maltese Falcon This is the single greatest literary adaptation of all time. Wonderfully cast and very faithful to the source.
Gone With The Wind
Jaws the rare one that is better than the original book
Fight Club Actually I love his writing. I wish I could be that lean.
Psycho The Hitchcock version, of course.
The Princess Bride
The Godfather I & II
The Exorcist
Rosemary's Baby
Silence of the Lambs
The Invisible Man The Whale version is the most faithful of all the Wells adaptations (though War of the Worlds might be a better film.)
Superman the first Christopher Reeve movie with the Mario Puzo script
Spiderman Love or hate the movie, it is a dead on adaptation of the comic book.
Ghostworld
Bubba Ho-tep Near perfect adaptation of the Lansdale novella

And then there is the list of great movies that are awful adaptions:

Blade Runner wonderful, atmospheric film that has little to do with the source material
Planet of the Apes The original with the Rod Serling script
War of the Worlds Well aliens do invade...
Re-animator and From Beyond both bear little resemblance to the Lovecraft stories, but are very good films.
Naked Lunch Croneberg's film has almost nothing ot do with the Burroughs' book, but I enjoyed it anyway.

There are more, but I'll stop there.

Rick
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Rick Klaw
Posted on Thursday, June 05, 2003 - 09:36 pm:   

Ah.. The Lord of the Rings. My feelings are in this subject are well known. I loathe Tolkien. I find his prose turgid and boring. I have tried both Fellowship and The Hobbit three times and have never finished either one. It just bores me silly.

The films I enjoyed a litle more. I found them both to be overlong, but much more enjoyable than the books.

Rick
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NoNamemous
Posted on Thursday, June 05, 2003 - 10:11 pm:   

I always get into fights when I talk about movies but:

Slaughterhouse Five

The Princess Bride

Fearless (added plus: starring Jeff Bridges)

Holes

I hadn't thought of Garp before reading the above list but I agree that one was swell.
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John Klima
Posted on Friday, June 06, 2003 - 05:45 am:   

I know they're not everyone's cup of tea, but I love the LOTR adaptations and the books. I'm also pleasantly surprised by the Harry Potter books and movies. I think the casting on the Harry Potter films was exceptional. If you've never seen it, the BBC Gormenghast was a lot of fun to watch, perhaps someone here can speak to how faithful it was to the original text (which I've not completed...).

JK
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Jason Erik Lundberg
Posted on Friday, June 06, 2003 - 08:19 am:   

I thought both of the HARRY POTTER films have done a good job so far of putting in as much of the books as they could, but still making the films cohesive and independent. FIGHT CLUB actually does a better job of the story than the book did; Palahniuk has said himself that he actually hates the prose in that book now, that it would be much different and a lot less clunky if he was writing it now. I thought Frank Darabont did a gorgeous job with both THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION and THE GREEN MILE.
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Chuck Hogle
Posted on Friday, June 06, 2003 - 11:40 am:   

I heard that the ending of Fight Club the movie was much different from the ending written by Palahniuk. (Not to mention the gratuitous splice of male genitalia.)
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John Klima
Posted on Friday, June 06, 2003 - 11:48 am:   

I hated the ending of the FIGHT CLUB movie. I thought it was gratuitous Hollywood bally-hoo. We can't have a movie without 'splosions! Otherwise, I liked both the film and the book.

JK
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Jason Erik Lundberg
Posted on Friday, June 06, 2003 - 12:28 pm:   

Yeah, the ending of the book has the fuses screwing up and not blowing up at all, and the narrator/Tyler ends up going to a mental institution, surrounded by loyal followers anxious to see him get better. It's a much more ominous ending in the book, that it could all start over again. But I like the movie ending too, where Project Mayhem succeeds and sends the debt record of the country back to zero, causing a fundamental shift in the economic world. And the penis shot is in there as a nod to Tyler's work as a projectionist, that he might be up in YOUR movie theatre controlling what you see. There's a warning at the beginning of the DVD that works the same way. Jim Uhls took great pains with the screenplay to get the feel of the book without doing a direct transfer, and Palahniuk liked it that way.
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ben peek
Posted on Friday, June 06, 2003 - 08:20 pm:   

john: i didn't think of the end of the movie in that way at all, the be honest. i thought of it as project mayhem succeeding, but also, a kind a visual metaphor about everything exploding around him (the narrator), but how everything came good out of that. didn't think of it as hollywood at all.

plus, it had that pixies song, where is my mind, which i love.
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Robert Devereux
Posted on Sunday, June 08, 2003 - 10:00 am:   

I haven't read the source material for these, but I did enjoy the films:

Cemetery Man: based on an Italian comic book. I'd like to read the comic.

Institute Benjamenta: based on Jakob von Gunten by Robert Walser.

and someday I'll need to read Street of the Crocodiles (the short film was wonderful).
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Chuck Hogle
Posted on Thursday, June 12, 2003 - 02:03 pm:   

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Obviously a literary classic, and an excellent movie as well.
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Chuck Hogle
Posted on Thursday, June 12, 2003 - 07:14 pm:   

Also, there's the movie "Gettysburg", which was based on The Killer Angels. Both book and movie are great, and the movie does a really good job of including all of the book's storylines. It's a bit long by modern Hollywood standards...but all of it is interesting and entertaining.
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peterw
Posted on Friday, June 13, 2003 - 01:50 pm:   

JK, I'm in accord with your assessment of Gormenghast. The movie was quite faithful to the book as far as i can remember (it's been many years since I read it). The casting was near perfect, no hyperbole intended. Lady Groan looked exactly like Peake's sketches of her, Dr. and Irma Prunesquallor were likewise exact matches. Rhys-Myers, the actor who played Steerpike was a bit too old to play the part, however, but this was not a significant detraction. The one problem I had with it was the lighting: I felt that it should have been infused with a dark, dank, misty pall (or something); the daylight scenes seemed a bit out of place.
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Chuck Hogle
Posted on Sunday, June 15, 2003 - 04:07 pm:   

This is slightly off-topic, but Happy Father's Day.
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Liz Williams
Posted on Monday, June 16, 2003 - 01:08 am:   

Also thought reasonably highly of GORMENGHAST, which is one of the all-time great unfilmable books, IMO. Like the Lynch version of DUNE, I thought it was a very brave try.
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John Klima
Posted on Monday, June 16, 2003 - 10:10 am:   

Well, I'll have to pull GORMENGHAST off my shelf and compare some day. Once I get caught up on all the other amazing books the people from this board are publishing. Can you all do me a favor and stop for one year and let me catch up?

Anyway, there are three Stephen King adaptations that I liked. While I think Mr. King has done very well for himself and there is no need for a good movie version of his books, so many of them were so awful. It was nice to see that someone could make a decent movie from what I consider good source material.

MISERY
SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION
GREEN MILE

I know in another thread there are people trashing the King prison movies, but that's ok, I still like them. They were the first DVDs I bought.

JK

N.B., there are two things I want to address. First, I think Mr. King has suffered from success and lack of editorial guidance for past few decades. Second, I do not consider Kubrick's THE SHINING a mere adpatation since it most decidedly looks like a Kubrick film before it looks like a Stephen King story. I need to go back and re-watch THE SHINING as I was disappointed in my first viewing of it (more than 10 years ago) at the liberties the film maker took with the story.
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Jeffrey Lyons
Posted on Monday, November 29, 2004 - 02:12 pm:   

Not so much a movie but the late 1970's UK TV series "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" was pretty darn close to the original book.

Nonameous stole my thunder. I was going to say "Slaughterhouse Five" was a fabulous adaption.

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