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Friday, July 15, 2011

Books to Movies: One of these Things is Not Like the Other One …

One of the world’s great debates (right next to all that existential mumbo jumbo) revolves around whether it’s better to read the book before watching the movie, or watch the movie before reading the book. BUT what if the book and movie are so drastically different that it’s impossible for one to spoil the experience of the other? Have you ever experienced such an event?

“No,” you say. “It’s not possible, Steve. Books and movies aren't that different. Stop asking us these crazy questions.”

Crazy? Oh, I think not.

Allow me to introduce, JUMPER, by Steven Gould.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the book, it’s a story about a young man named David Rice who discovers he has the ability to transport, or “Jump” instantly from one location to another, anywhere around the globe. Chaos ensues.

I watched the movie a few years ago when it first came out and loved it. Then recently I read the book and loved it too. BUT the two are not the same. In fact, I imagine 20th Century Fox considering the purchase of the movie rights and saying, “Hmm, I love the Jumping aspect of this book, but I’m not crazy about the rest.”

This isn’t a rant. I’m not angry about the big bad movie company changing the author’s story. Like I said above, I loved both versions. If I had to pick which I liked the best, I’d give the trophy to the book, but it would be a close race.

I know most movies deviate from their book counterparts to some degree (*Cough* Harry Potter *cough*). But if you know any books that are completely (or at least significantly) different from the movie versions, leave a comment below.

Oh, and FWIW, I highly recommend reading JUMPER. Steven Gould is a wonderful story teller.


Ben Sloan said...

I used to get worked up about movies ruining books, but eventually I realized you just have to accept them as different stories to be accepted independently. I think of them as the same story or character as played out in different parallel universes.

Most of the COMPLETELY different book/movies I think of are ones where they basically just stole the title and/or author's name for exposure. Everything from the old school Poe ripoffs (The Pit and The Pendulum, etc) to the more recent Lawnmower Man, from which Stephen King sued to get his name removed. The Running Man is the same. Kubrick's The Shining is very different from the book and is fantastic. Fight Club is the one instance where I think the movie improved the book by changing the ending. I Am Legend was ruined by changing the ending for the film.

I'll stop there. I could rant for a good while, haha.

S.B.Niccum said...

Mmm...The first one that jumps out at me is The Count of Monte Cristo. I can't remember the names of the actors to tell you which version of the movie, but it came out...5 + years ago. I loved the movie, I loved the changes, they felt natural and very 21st Century. But it was not like the book (one of my all time favorite books)
S.B. Niccum
Author Website
Author Blog
Chicks In Lit Blog

Melanie Stanford said...

I agree wity Count of Monte Cristo- that movie is a lot different from the book. Also, some of the movies based on Nicholas Sparks books are quite a bit different. And I read P.S. I Love You after loving the movie and that was way different too.
I always try to separate the two. If I've read the book first, I try not to let it bug me when they change things in the movie. I treat it as a completely separate entity. Especially Harry Potter!

Steven Whibley said...

@Ben - That's a lot! I have long had Fight Club on my 'to read' list and now that I know it's different than the movie my curiosity is peaked.

@S.B. Niccum - I agree with you about Count of Monte Cristo. That's one of my favorite books and, actually, I quite liked the movie but it is different. I wonder, if they had made the movie version of Edmond Dantes as needlessly cruel as he was in the book, if people would have been turned off.

@ Melanie - I agree. I think they need to be viewed as two different entities. That way you can sit back and enjoy both.

Thanks for the comments, guys.

Donna K. Weaver said...

There are some movies that absolutely trash the books. My most hated adaptation is "Starship Troopers". Loved that book; it's one of my favorites. I often wonder why they even want to make a film from a book if they liked so little of it.

One film series that's different from the books but made great movies anyway is the Bourne series. I was miffed at first at how much they changed it, but the movie really did work once I just forgot it was based on the books.

Sometimes, I've like the movies better than the book. Though I can only say that about a handful. One was "Jaws". The book got things complicated with Brody's wife having an affair with Matt Hooper the oceanographer and hints about the mafia. The movie, as a simple tale of man against beast, was fabulous.

The Golden Eagle said...

I, Robot. I love the book by Isaac Asimov--but the movie? One of the main characters doesn't (as far as I can remember) exist in the book, the other MC is different, and they only kept small details of the book's plot. The book, too, is more strongly based on logic and deduction, while several points made in the movie just confused me. I'm not a fan of it. :P

I'll have to check out Jumper!

Jeff King said...

I am firmly in the camp of those who like to read the books before the movie… books reach me at a deeper level emotionally I couldn’t handle they story broken down into a two hour reflection of the tale.

But in the reverse, I know what happened in the parts that were cut to fit the story into the time restraints of a movie… so I enjoy the movie better for it.

Milo James Fowler said...

I'm pretty sure the recent Gulliver's Travels with Jack Black was nothing like the book -- except for the little people. I saw The Princess Bride many times before reading the book, and I'd have to say the book's better only because it has room for so much more hilarious stuff in it!

David Powers King said...

I felt pretty much the same way about Jumper, book and movie. I do try to read the book first, If I can. Adaptations--not an easy thing.

I gave you a shout-out on my blog. :)

Sarah Pearson said...

I used to read Jodie Picoult books and the one that they filmed (My sister's keeper I think) had such a different ending that I think it totally ruined the point that Picoult was trying to make.

Usually I don't mind too much, I get that time is limited on screen but I'll admit to getting wound up sometimes :)

Julius Cicero said...

Hello, new follower. I found both The Thing movies different from the story, Who Goes There. While they were different, they were all three of them terrifically done.

Steven Whibley said...

@Donna - The Borne movies are among my favorite, I only just started in on the books but I was spotting differences right away. I haven't read Star Ship Troopers, but mostly because I wasn't a fan of the movie. It's now on my "to read" pile, thanks for the rec.

Steven Whibley said...

@Golden Eagle - I wasn't a big fan of I Robot (the movie) either, but now I want to read the book. I think that's often the problem: If you watch the movie first, and they don't do it justice, you don't pick up the book.

@Jeff - I think you're right. I don't mind when the movies leave out bits and pieces if I've read the books, because I know what happened. It's like a scavenger hunt to spot all the differences during the film.

@Milo - Okay, the Princess Bride is easily one of my favorite books. The movie was pretty funny, but the book is hilarious.

Steven Whibley said...

@David - I'm glad I'm not alone with my JUMPER thoughts. Also, thanks for the shout-out on your blog. Much appreciated.


Steven Whibley said...

@Sarah - I too try to be forgiving to movies, it can't be easy to cram a story into 2 hours. It's only when they deviate and fail that I get the hackles up. I wondered for the longest time if the last harry potter movie was getting made into two parts because they couldn't tell the story in 2 hours or because they wanted to milk a bit more $ out of the fans. (As a huge HP fan I just wanted more, so it didn't matter what the motivation was ... I was just curious ;) )

@Julius - I've read THE THING (A long long time ago), but I haven't seen the movie (either of them - I didn't know there were two). I'll have to re-read it and then check out the movie.

~Charity~ said...

I've always preferred books to movies. I am trying to teach myself to appreciate the two as completely separate entities, which is proving difficult! If I had to choose just one story where the book and movie were drastically different it would be Prince Caspian. What really ticked me off were the character changes. I don't want to give out any spoilers, but suffice it to say I was angry (and I mean angry!) for months after watching the movie the first time.

Ellie Garratt said...

Personally, I prefer to read the book first. When I do see the movie, most of the time I end up disappointed, either because they have made considerable changes to the story or the director's vision of the story just doesn't match mine.

The worst example for me was Marley and Me. The book is about Marley, yet the film seemed to be all about Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston. Worse than that they mess around with timeline. I only watched half the movie - I couldn't bear to see any more!

Ellie Garratt

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