Books……and then come the Movies. Part One.

So, my last little blog was about the tv shows inspired by books and how they can often be disappointing. This week my thoughts turned to movies and that is a huge subject. So much so that when I started writing this blog I knew that one post wasnt going to cut it. So this will be in several parts over several days. When a movie is made based on a popular novel, the pitfalls are huge. That old saying “You can’t please all of the people….” springs to mind. No matter how true to the source material they are, no matter how much thought goes into the casting, someone, somewhere will say – “well it wasnt nearly as good as the book and they left this bit out. Oh and this bit.” I know. I do it myself. And of course, some movies are so far removed from the books they are supposedly based on, that really you wonder why they even bother saying it IS based on that book. When it works though its terrific – those characters you have come to know and love pop off the screen and its sheer brilliance – in reality however my own opinion is it more often fails to live up to the reading experience than not. Occasionally, to be fair, it improves on it. My problem I believe is I tend to cast in my head if I’m reading a good book – and rarely if ever does the casting director agree with me! Who else does that? Come on, admit it, I KNOW you do. So lets look at a few…


I’m going to start with Stephen King. OF COURSE YOU ARE I hear those that know me well cry, who else? For years I watched every adaptation of a King novel going – both in the television and movie format. I despaired I really did. In fact until recent years “The Shining” was the only film I enjoyed – and we all know how much Mr King hates that adaptation, and it really doesnt do his novel justice. But hey, Jack Nicholson – can’t complain about that! He was scary. The book was scary. So ok we’ll let them get away with that one. Mr Kubrick was a genius. None of the others ever came close to capturing the sense and feeling of the books. Even “Carrie” which really tried its best. Then. A Miracle. That miracle was one Mr Frank Darabont. Any King fan will know the story “Rita Hayworth and The Shawshank Redemption” and what a completely great little tale it was. But it WAS short. Mr Darabont and his crew took that little story and turned it into one of the most amazing movies that has EVER been made, let alone a book adaptation. Expanding the story, imagining a life, that movie is uplifting and awe inspiring and I have yet to meet a person who didnt like it, most LOVE it. Pure joy. Then, Mr Darabont obviously knowing he was onto a good thing,  took on “The Green Mile”. Originally published as a series in 6 parts I remember being desperate to get my hands on the next instalment – another tale of Prison life but with the old King twist, this was absorbing and heart wrenching in equal measure. Now of course you can buy it in novel form and read it start to finish – but back then you had to wait. I was interested to see the adaptation and wow. My God. Whoever decided that Tom Hanks and Michael Clarke Duncan should play the leading roles MUST have read the book. Readers, you remember the description of John Coffey from the book? Isnt Mr Duncan perfect? Everything pretty much about that adaptation was. Perfect. Finally (so far) for Mr Darabont, another short King tale – The Mist. With this adaptation he was completely true to the story……..until the end. Well. If you have read it you know that there is zero chance of Mr King’s ending satisfying most movie going fans – so what happened? Well. If you’ve seen it you know. How many gasps of shock do you think rang out around Cinema’s  everywhere when that was being shown? I’m guessing a lot. I know when I saw it everyone literally cried out. The tension was palpable. And I bet not many of us slept well afterwards…

So. There you go. Hopefully you will take my advice – watch the King adaptations that are GOOD and leave the rest for heavens sake. Just for me.



I’m going to talk about one more set of books today – extremely popular novels that were made into extremely popular films. In this case I ADORED the films and hated the books. Hey, sometimes it does work that way you know! Vampire fans unite – Team Edward or Team Jacob? Well Team Jacob all the way for me! Yes its Twilight. The craze that swept the world, lovers of the books united to make these some of the most popular movies ever. And I LOVED them. Visually they were stunning – the casting was superb and all of them put their heart into it. Whereas in the novels the constant gazing into each others eyes and periods of time where absolutely NOTHING happened drove me crazy, when transferred to the visual medium they became much more emotive. It helped of course that the movie was peppered with good looking young people who were easy on the eye – even the villains – but still I felt this story much more when engrossed in the films than I did while reading the books. Not that the books were bad, don’t get me wrong…well loved by teenagers and adults alike, they were easy reads but too drawn out I felt. The movies took some poetic licence – the finale to “Breaking Dawn Part Two” was amazing – heart stopping action that had everyone on the edge of their seats. In the books it was a much more stagnant ending – which worked beautifully in novel form but might have been slightly boring in visual form. So no, I was not fond of the books and admittedly (sorry Twilight fans!) I skipped a lot of pages and didnt appear to miss much. In the cinema I lived every moment with Bella – superb storytelling and superb camera work made for a great cinema experience.



Ok thats your lot for today. In “Part Two” I shall be talking about “When good books go bad” …those film adaptations that have caused controversy in the reading world when well loved characters get mangled in the pursuit of riches and it seems as if no-one has really given TOO much thought to the fans. Hey. It happens. Now of course, if  authors sell their book rights they can’t really be expected to worry that much about what happens to it next. Or can they? A point for discussion I believe. Prior to writing my next piece I would be VERY interested to hear opinions on that. SHOULD an author TRY and ensure that at least a nod is going to be given to those readers who have been faithfully following them, sometimes for years, before a movie adaptation is made? Or is it very much – ok you can use my idea and do what you want with it. If you are an author OR a reader, please do leave me a comment with your opinion – and perhaps an example of an adaptation you have loved or hated. I’m going to end with two words. Jack Reacher.

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2 Responses to Books……and then come the Movies. Part One.

  1. I’d add Misery to the list of King movies done well.
    I think it would be nice if an author could have some say in how a movie turns out, but in reality I think most of us would probably be too star-struck to have any real influence. A movie is such a different beast, with so many people involved. Very different to one writer at a desk with a laptop.

  2. E. L. Lindley says:

    Don’t even get me started on Jack Reacher! I agree with you completely,Liz, that the problem is we cast the characters in our head when we read. I also agree with your verdict on the Twilight books. Like wise with True Blood, I love the series but couldn’t get into the books at all.

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