Sunday, November 25, 2007

Books into movies

Interesting article in this Sunday's New York Times Book Review on how Hollywood is affecting novels.

Some worry that movies and the desire to have your book made into a movie negatively influences the writing, but Diane Johnson said screenwriting has helped her sense of structure.

And Tom Perrotta said, "Writing screenplays has the paradoxical effect of making me a more literary writer, much more conscious of what I can do in a novel that I can’t do in a script: the ease of a flashback within a flashback, how you can have immediate access to any event in your character’s life.”

A movie just came out about a novelist that I want to see: Starting Out in the Evening.

But movies made from books: Accidental Tourist worked well. I can't say I finished The English Patient, but I'm thinking the movie worked better than the book (don't hit me, all you readers who loved the book; I loved the writing, but I just wasn't compelled to finish). I liked Wonder Boys very much. I didn't like Perrotta's Little Children as a film, though I loved it as a book. What other movies translated well--or didn't?


Don said...

My favorite writer, Graham Greene, had a style which was intensely cinematic and he himself acknowledged the influence that film had on his writing style (it's also worth noting that he did a fair amount of screenwriting during the course of his career).

As for books which translated well to film, I think the best ones are those which don't become slavishly addicted to the book. The Harry Potter films, for example, did a good job of eliminating some of the byzantine structures of Hogwarts that are in the books. The World According to Garp chose one aspect of the book to focus on, which made for a stronger story than the book had (although I think it would be interesting to do another film of the book, focusing this time on Garp as writer rather than his reactions to the cartoon of feminism).

Judy Kay said...

I have an Amazon list of Books that are "Way Better than the Movie" and among White Oleander, House of Sand and Fog, and East of Eden I have listed The English Patient.

My Amazon lists:

Anonymous said...

I always found most of Steven King's novels translated well onto the big screen, and in some cases, the small screen as well. "IT", while a tv movie was really well done, plus Tim Curry played the evil clown/creature and was just perfect in the role.
"Shawshank Redemption" was also very well done as a movie.
also "notes on a scandal" which was such a awesome book was also a great movie! I could go on forever..books are always better because they have everything there, the thoughts of the characters, and movies usually have to cut out part of the story so the movie isn't a million hours long.
some movies end differently than books(even notes', which i couldn't quite figure out why, and that definitely takes something away that the book will always have.


Allison Johnson said...

Going back a ways, I think the Godfather movies were better than the book. Sophie's Choice was an amazing adaptation. Also, Ordinary People.

A more recent, and excellent adaptation is 3:10 to Yuma.

Chelsey said...

I disliked Little Children as well, but I never read the book.

I know a stunt person who just worked on the film for The Lovely Bones. I liked the book - until the end, and then I was really disappointed. I can't imagine how that will work as a film!

And I liked Fight Club, both the film and the book - the book more.


Nicholas Borelli said...

Having written 5 novels and 2 screenplays, I find the the latter a very limiting form. The adaptation of my first novel to the screen consumed 387 pages. The 12th draft is 140 pages. Cutting it was a tremendous chore. Still too long, but I'm no longer capable of cutting what I believe is the essence of the work. I hope some producer or director will do it for me.



deirdre said...

I love everything written by Alice Hoffman, but Practical Magic was a disappointing movie.

My coffee hasn't kicked in well enough this morning to help me think of any other movies or books yet. :(

avb said...

I tend to be a purist, but I do admit that I love The English Patient even better as a movie than a book. And I think To Kill a Mockingbird also worked really well. There was something about having the Elmer Bernstein score backing it up that made the translation all the more enjoyable. & Emma Thompson's Sense & Sensibility will also be close to my heart.

One of the worst adaptations of one of my favorite novels is Jay Cocks' Age of Innocence. I know what he was trying to get at, but it just didn't work. If you want to see a great movie about social class, rent Visconti's The Leopard.

madge said...

Here's a twist: lousy book and fun, fabulous movie: The Devil Wears Prada!