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Old 12-06-2009, 08:36 AM
43,986 posts, read 44,110,272 times
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What movies do you think were well-translated into movies? And which were not?

I think they did a great job of making Stephen King's The Stand into a movie, although it was really a miniseries. Same with The Green Mile. Another is Apollo 13. The book was originally titled Lost Moon.

The worst job I've ever seen of making a book into a movie was The Prince of Tides. I saw the movie, thought it was pretty good, and then a friend of mine said, "uh-uh, read the book." I did, and then I was completely angry with Barbra Streisand, who made the movie as a showcase for herself.

The book is one of best stories I've ever read. The movie is about one-eighth of the book. The title character does not even APPEAR in the movie!
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Old 12-06-2009, 09:38 AM
Location: locus amoenus
1,804 posts, read 2,855,459 times
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I think that Death In Venice was well-translated and I love the movie (my favourite movie ever, quite possibly), although it's more of a supplement to the book than a really faithful adaptation. Also, La Pianiste did a good job adapting a complex novel. The Company of Wolves was a great, evocative mixture of a couple of tales in Angela Carter's The Bloody Chamber.

One adaptation I've never bought is William Wyler's Wuthering Heights. Whilst I believe that he did a wonderful job adapting Henry James in The Heiress and John Fowles in The Collector, I can't understand what he did with Emily Brontė's beautiful novel. I thought Laurence Olivier was a pointlessly sanitized Heathcliff, neither his looks nor his acting even remotely suited for such a role (he was very handsome though). Also, the romance part was too... Harmless. I guess that movie needed to be done at a different time because the plot is actually quite delicate and the hero is a very villain-y one, but none of the subsequent adaptations have fully satisfied me either. Ralph Fiennes was a good Heathcliff many years later, but the movie per se was so-so.
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Old 12-06-2009, 10:03 AM
Location: The Midst of Insanity
3,225 posts, read 5,831,883 times
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Good books=good movies:

Children of Men
The Tin Drum
Angelas Ashes
Johnny Got His Gun
A Clockwork Orange
All Quiet on the Western Front
A Tree Grows In Brooklyn
A Cambodian Odyssey (movie The Killing Fields)
Requiem For a Dream

I don't think Stephen King is good writer, but I thought his short story "Children of the Corn" (the written story) was a genuinly creepy one. The movie was atrocious, and nothing like the actual story.

I can't think of anything where the movie was better than the book. Children of Men comes close.
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Old 12-06-2009, 11:58 AM
Location: long island ny
4,573 posts, read 3,335,683 times
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The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri was a brilliant read. The movie, on the other hand, by Mira Nair was a mere disappointment in my opinion. It was hard to follow, you literally didn't know what was going on..and only because I read the book, did I finally start to figure out what was happening. The introduction to the characters seemed non existent, and the film was too rushed to even get a grasp. I just couldn't get 'Kumar' out of my head wanting to go get whitecastles...what a poor obvious(?) choice of main character. I thought the placement of rap in the movie was a bad choice...not unless your head bangin with the homies in the bronx...it just didn't seem to fit.
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Old 12-06-2009, 09:10 PM
Location: just here
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I immediately thought of Stephen King when I saw this thread. I thought Misery was pretty well done & also Pet Sematary....maybe even The Shining as well.
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Old 12-06-2009, 10:09 PM
Location: Matthews, NC
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Misery worked well as a movie partly because the story was fairly simple to translate to screen. A lot of stories are just too complex to work as a movie. Misery was basically two people in a cabin for the entire story.

Sorry to disagree, but Pet Semetary was terrible, IMHO. The Shining was a good movie but far removed from the book. In the book, he slowly descended into madness. In the movie, he was clearly demented from the start.

I thought that the first Chronicles of Narnia movie worked pretty well. With a story like that one, it could have easily been a lot worse.
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Old 12-06-2009, 10:27 PM
Location: Austin, Texas
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As far as fairly recent books-into-movies, I thought the Coen Brothers did a superb job of bringing Cormac McCarthy's "No Country For Old Men" to the screen. Being a huge McCarthy fan, I know that his writing style often makes it difficult for movies to do justice to his stories, as is witnessed by the terrible flick "The Road." Same can be said for "All the Pretty Horses."
Another bad book-to-flick translation in my opinion was "The Soloist." The book was a true story written by L.A. Times reporter Steve Lopez, who one day discovered a homeless man playing a two-stringed violin on the street. Turns out the guy was a former Julliard student and child prodigy. Robert Downey Jr. played Lopez and Jamie Foxx played the homeless dude, Nathan Ayers. Two great actors, but the movie was flat and formulaic, and obvious Oscar bait. It just didn't work.
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Old 12-07-2009, 04:38 AM
Location: on an island
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Good job:

Into the Wild

To Kill A Mockingbird

Fried Green Tomatoes


Grapes of Wrath (loved Fonda's "I'll be there" speech)

The Reader

Cider House Rules (Irving wrote the screenplay)

Also, Irving's The Door in the Floor (Irving's A Widow For One Year;Jeff Bridges should have received an Oscar)

Better than the actual book, it elevated the material:

Lord of the Rings (the movies were rather long, but the books were downright bloated)

The Godfather

The English Patient (I know, everyone else *hates* this movie with the heat of a trillion suns, but I liked it, and disliked the stream-of-consciousness novel)
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Old 12-07-2009, 06:48 AM
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The worst ones i can think of are Davinci Code and Angels and Demons. Great books terrible movies.
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Old 12-07-2009, 07:33 AM
Location: on an island
13,363 posts, read 38,737,737 times
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The Power of OneIt wasn't terrible, but it just couldn't convey everything the book did. Maybe it would have been better as an HBO mini-series.

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil I liked the actors, but I just didn't get that spooky black magic feeling--something was missing.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas (live action, not the animated version) Some things should just be left alone

More good ones:

Adaptation - based on The Orchid Thief. This is some wacky material, but I liked the book as well as the movie. Definitely takes you to another place.

Where the Wild Things Are Not perfect, but ambitious and creative, and the emotional core of the book is superbly realized onscreen.

Sometimes it seems like the better the book, the harder it is to make it into a good movie. It is almost as if weaker source material better lends itself to film.
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