Wednesday, June 13, 2007

I Can't Wait To See This

Have you read The Lovely Bones?

If you haven't shame on you!! It is unlike anything you have ever read before, I promise you.

I was very excited to see the film version is getting underway. I hope they don't screw it up. I hate it when a favorite book gets made into a terrible movie.

So, question of the day .....

What film do you feel best captures the essence of the book?

and ....

Which is the worst? The one that just pissed you off?

Worst first - Dune.

Great book.

Fabulous book.

Totally screwed up movie. I love David Lynch, but I have never forgiven him for that film.

As for the best, The Age Of Innocence.

They did just a terrific job of capturing the attitudes of the book. Every screen writer who wants to develop a screenplay from a novel should be required to watch this film.


Camera Obscura said...

The SciFi Dune miniseries wasn't quite so bad as Mr. Lynch's debacle.

The Shining. I wanted to rush right out of the theater and murder whomever the director was. It was just so totally not scary, and the book had me sleeping poorly for a week.

The LOTR trilogy did a decent job on the books, Tom Bombadil not withstanding.

Brave Sir Robin said...

Yes to all of the above!

Although, I did like The Shining (Stanley Kubrick), it was a different experience from the book.

Too bad the Dune Mini-series didn't have a bigger budget. The tone of it was great, but I would have liked more sweeping desert scenes.

The Red Queen said...

the Sci Fi Dune series was more true to the story of the book, but the David Lynch movie was pretty and looked more like what I saw in my head reading the books .

Granted, the cheese that Lynch stuffed into the movie was really gross- but Kyle Mclaughlin in a still suit was hawt!

The Shining was sooo much scarier as a book than as a movie.

For best I would say anytime the BBC does something to a Jane Austen book they nail it, not just with Pride and Prejudice but Persuasion as well.

Batocchio said...

My major in college actually had me focused a great deal on adaptations, and what made for good, bad and ugly ones. In many cases, it's a matter of what's more important, the teller or the tale. In stories where the way it's told is of key importance, the adaptation really tends to suffer. Also, most novels are simply too long for every moment to stay when adapted. Novellas often work better. But capturing the spirit of the original is really the most important, I think, versus the details. No film adaptation is likely to exceed the one you already have in your mind. Of course, there's definitely a special pain to seeing a book you love butchered.

Some unconventional adaptations, such as Kurosawa's Shakespeare films, Throne of Blood (Macbeth) and Ran (King Lear), are fantastic. I suppose it's easier for plays (Who's Afraid of Viriginia Woolf? is great), but some great theater pieces, like Equus, don't translate well because the horses become literal as opposed to being actors with masks, and the entire play depends on ritual, symbolism and a communal feeling in the theater. The "telling" doesn't translate.

I still haven't read To Kill a Mockingbird, but I know several people who praise it as an adaptation. The Pride and Prejudice miniseries also gets high marks from many folks.

They aren't many films that are better than the book, but I'd argue that The Silence of the Lambs is because it's leaner, meaner and tighter. Also, in the book Hannibal Lecter has power over Clarice Starling mainly because he's holding out on info he has that she needs. In the film, there's still an element of that, but there's a stronger sense that Lecter is divining stuff through sheer brilliance. Demme also taps into Hitchcock's make-the-audience-culpable-with-the-villain dynamic.

I'd suggest Jurassic Park: The Lost World is better than the book mainly because the book is so godawful, not that the film is great either. Crichton seems to have tossed the book off (and he even contradicts a key plot point of Jurassic Park – the T. Rex's vision suddenly isn't motion-dependent!). I've heard that Badge of Evil, which Orson Welles made into Touch of Evil, is a pretty bad, pulpy book, but normally it goes the other way.

A Clockwork Orange is more disturbing as a film than as a book, for what it's worth, although Kubrick didn't know about the final chapter dropped from American editions and also dropped the passage in the book that deals with the title. I've actually seen a great stage production that was more disturbing than the film! Anyway, I think all have merit.

I say this as a dedicated Tolkien fan from childhood (I've read The Silmarillion twice, for god's sake), before I'm flayed – in some ways, I think the LOTR films improve on the books. Tolkien remains great, one of the towering standards that all fantasy is and should be measured against. However, he was also an English professor who became livid about being edited. The books are in many ways him creating a world, and sometimes story and plot take a back seat. That's fine, because all the rich background is part of why we love him. I'd argue overall that the books and films compliment each other nicely and don't need to be in competition. However, let me offer three examples of great adaptation in the film of Fellowship. 1) The opening preface sequence is fantastic for conveying in very short order key information that most readers would only get from reading the appendicies. 2) When Elrond says, "I was there, Gandalf, 3000 years ago" or whatever, it's great because we believe
him, but Peter Jackson also shows us Isildur's refusal to destroy the One Ring. This sets up the stakes for the entire film, Aragorn's conflict throughout Fellowship and the rest of the series, and Frodo's main conflict, especially for his climatic scene at Mt. Doom. It's fine, fine stuff. 3) Saruman chanting to bring the storm down on the mountain. Gandalf remarks on the weather in the book, and we read about a voice on the wind, but Jackson shows us it in a stunning sequence, and plays beautifully between Gandalf and Saruman throughout that section and the film overall. He makes important themes present.

None of that's to say that Jackson's flawless (I'm less convinced about the elves at Helm's Deep), and I respect criticisms of him, but let's be honest, we fanboys and girls got incredibly lucky. They were going cut the films down to two originally, cut two hobbits, maybe turn Sam into a girl to give Frodo a love interest! Instead, we got an incredible fanboy director who dedicated his every waking moment to doing the films the best he could. They certainly exceeded my expectations, and I believe they're landmark cinema apart from any value as adaptations. Much of the cast is fantastic, and Jackson nailed so many key moments – Eowyn and the Witch King, Gandalf's death, Boromir's death… There's a real sensitivity to all the characters, but Boromir's speech in Lothlorian about wanting to please his father and longing for Gondor comes to mind. Many small sequences would be gems and centerpieces in their own films, but there are so many in LOTR it's easy to take them for granted.

Anyway – sorry for the long comment – I do need to read The Lovely Bones before the film comes out, but Jackson and Weisz are good news!

Anne said...

The [LOTR] books are in many ways [Tolkien] creating a world, and sometimes story and plot take a back seat.

I agree wholeheartedly.

And count me as one of the people who adore the BBC Pride & Prejudice

Brave Sir Robin said...

Anyway – sorry for the long comment

Heck no! That's what this is all about.

I am in complete agreement that Silence of the Lambs was a better film than book. Your point on Equus was right on as well.

celticfeminist said...

I'll second or third the BBC Pride and Prejudice as full on nailing the book. And I'll add their version of Bleak House as well. It was brilliantly done.

I also thought the LoTR movies were fantastically wrought. Though I can't really compare them to the books, since I can't seem to slog through them, no matter how much I try.

I can't really think of a movie off the top of my head that pissed me off because it ruined the book.

I can say that I saw The Green Mile before I read the book and it was the first time I was profoundly disappointed in the original book vs. the movie. Then again, King is either hit or miss for me. The Green Mile was a definite miss.

Gourmet Goddess said...

I actually really liked the Lynch Dune - the long-ass version of it though not the short version. I think a lot of people didn't like it because it was a bit camp and a bit disco and the novel is all very serious. But I personally like my religious narrative and enjoy it with a bit of camp and disco, so it worked for me :)

Then again, I also liked Costner's The Postman, as long as I reminded myself that it was not Brin's The Postman and that there was no possible way to film Brin's The Postman and be faithful to the novel. Once I accepted the movie as just another post-apocalyptic sci fi film, I enjoyed it as another popcorn flick.

The best film-adaptation for me was The Princess Bride. I had read it years before the movie came out and was so excited and not a bit disappointed. I also enjoyed O Brother Where Art Thou? as an adaptation of The Odyssey.

The Red Queen said...

Oh yes- bleak house was fab! And I forgot about O Brother Where Art Thou . I also liked Adaptation which was supposed to be about a book by Susan Orlean but wasn't.

Camera Obscura said...

Dittos w/ folks who thought the film were more understandable than LoTR itself. I have great patience with most books, but I had picked up Fellowship three or four times and put it back down halfway through the first chapter. But after the first movie, I could finally sit down and read the books. I guess I just don't think like Tolkien (pbly a good thing...)

I'm about the same way with Clancy's Jack Ryan novels. The movies are fine (or they were, until they decided Jack needed to be a young guy) but I skip all the techno-junk in the novels. And I'm a computer scientist married to a guy w/ two degrees in aero engineering, so it's not like I can't understand it. It's just bor-ring.

Brave Sir Robin said...

I used to love Clancy and then two thing happened.

His novel became more and more filled with techno-military acronyms to the point of ridiculousness, and I found out he was a right-winger.

I just can't read him anymore.

That being said, the sum of all fears was a much better book than the movie.

somewaterytart said...

Robin, I think we are riding the same mental wavelength today. Really- it's creepy.

1- I am engrossed in The Age of Innocence right now, and will probably finish it tonight. It is truly lovely and wonderful and I can't put it down.

2- Ever since a friend told me there was a movie version with Michell Pfeiffer and Daniel Day Lewis, I keep picturing them in the roles and thinking how perfectly cast they are. I'm going to rent the movie as soon as I'm done- so excited!!

3- Just now I was sitting by the pool reading it, thinking for no reason about The Lovely Bones, and how it might be time for a third reading soon, and how much I liked the dad character, and when the hell is the Peter Jackson movie coming out goddammit?! Because I know we can trust him to make something non-cheesy and non-sentimental, and visually awesome.


Brave Sir Robin said...

See!!! Your close proximity to my physical location yesterday started a mind-meld of some sort!!!

The Age Of Innocence is so good!

Anne said...

Clearly I must add this Age of Innocence to my Netflix queue.

Oh, and add Dune to the ever-growing pile of "to read" books on my bedside table.

Brave Sir Robin said...

Yes Anne, read Dune right away!!!

As for the Age Of Innocence, I'd read it first if you haven't, but the film is spot on!!

Anne said...

Make that two additions to the pile of books. :)

Gourmet Goddess said...

I had the same reaction to LOTR. I was ok with the first book, second book I started skipping massive sections, and I never made it through Return of the King. Made my head hurt and my eyes bleed. Yes, I know Tolkein is like unto god and that LOTR is a seminal fantasy series but I just couldn't do it. On the other hand, I can give you all sorts of info from George RR Martin's Fire and ice series, and those are all a thousand pages long.....

Brave Sir Robin said...

Hmmm I smell next week's question of the day.

What book can you just not manage to finish?

Coming soon to a Blog near you.

Anne said...

Okay, Dune purchased and placed next to the bed for the post-packing, pre-sleep reading I intend to do tonight.

I couldn't get through the LotR books the first time (in my defense, it was in elementary school). My second attempt was right before the first movie came out, and I was determined, so I managed to get through the slow parts. It was a slog at times, though.

Brave Sir Robin said...

I understand the LOTR problem. I was in high school before I read them, but some of the long eleven singing was a bit too much on a first reading. I was anxious for the story to get on.

Now, having read them many times, those are some of my favorite passages.

Anne said...

Yes, I think that when I go back to read them, I'll appreciate those bits more. The first time around I admit I went through them rather hastily.

Did you see Good Eats last night? Or is any tv-watching Buffy-watching these days? He made dulce de leche and I just about died... :)

Brave Sir Robin said...

YES!!! I saw the episode!!

did you catch the Tres Leche cake?

Allthough - wouldn't the cream make it quatro leche? Doesn't sound as elegant though.

Anne said...

Yes indeed! But having far less experience with that one, I wasn't able to appreciate it fully. It did look darn good, though.

I think the leches in the title are only the ones involved in the soaking. I suppose you could leave off the whipped cream and it would still be tres leches, but really, why would you want to???

I wonder if there's anywhere around here that makes a good tres leches cake... all of my baking things are packed!

Jennifer said...

A bit late to the party, but when the book vs. movie question arises I always go to Forrest Gump because lots of books are better than their film counterparts but that was my first experience of a book that was stunningly, blindingly, unforgivably worse than the movie.

It's a throwaway book - a quick read and well worth it just because it makes you love the movie so much more (if you liked it in the first place, which I did).

Brave Sir Robin said...

Welcome to the discussion Jennifer!!