1. Scattercat
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    Scattercat Active Member

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    Books to Film

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by Scattercat, Sep 10, 2008.

    Now, to start this off, let me first say that I really like the LotR movies, and I've seen several other book-to-film conversions that ended up being very solid movies. However, I think that the process is rarely successful, more often ending with a lifeless film that hews too closely to a scene for scene copy (The fourth Harry Potter movie was particularly egregious in this), or with a bizarre new movie that more or less works cinematically, but has nothing to do with the original story. (I'm thinking here specifically of Nightwatch, which was just awful and had nothing to do with the books themselves, or of I am Legend, which was a lovely zombie movie that had nothing to do with the actual story save that it involved a man and a dog.)

    Basically, if I were ever offered a chance to do a film on my stories, I think I would turn it down. I've read too many things from too many authors - even ones who were given full creative control - that make me think it's simply not worth it. It comes down to a difference in mediums; movies are very good at telling certain kinds of stories, and in telling stories in certain ways. Books are very good at different stories, and different storytelling methods. The two have very little common ground.

    Even if the author has total control of the film and one doesn't have to worry about stories getting "the Hollywood treatment" (a la the "better" ending to Hunchback of Notre Dame), one still often has a major hurdle: writing a novel has nothing to do with writing a screenplay. Harlan Ellison talked about this a lot in his long-running movie review article.

    Basically, while I can think of a few movies made from books that ended up making good films, I can think of far, far more simply awful ones. Also, I have trouble thinking of any movie made from a book that succeeded in telling the same story as well as the original format. If the movie was good, the story was usually changed - not necessarily for the worse, but definitely not the same tone or message. If the movie was bad, well, often it was very different from the book as well (Will Smith SAVES TEH WORLD instead of dying philosophically), or sometimes it was a little too close to the source material, showing scenes that worked great in a book but which fall flat on the big screen. (Usually due to the POV shifts and internal monologues that novels are good at but movies struggle to convey.)

    What are your thoughts on turning books into film? Have you seen a movie based on a book that was as good a movie? Have you seen a book-based movie that was legendarily awful?
     
  2. Solaris
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    Solaris Active Member

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    Well, first off I have to say I Am Legend was awful in my opinion, just in general LOL.
    But that's a matter of personal taste.

    As far as my thoughts on this, I'll have to go with what I already said.
    I think it can be done well, and it can be done horribly - as you stated in your OP.
    I think it is up to the individual author if they want their work to be translated on film.
    Readers can see it or not see it, whichever they please.

    I respect film for its own artistic value - the visual aspect of a story.
    Again, I'm a little bit bias due to being such a movie junkie.
    But it doesn't affect me all that much. Do it or don't do it. See it or don't see it.

    I think it can be a great thing if it is done successfully. You get the visual aspect of the emotion and the scenery, and it's interesting to see the perspective it's given and how it compares to the way you saw it in your head.

    On the other end - if it turns out like crap. Well, that sucks.
    But I'm not going to fret over it really.
     
  3. lordofhats
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    lordofhats Contributing Member

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    Its hard to make a book into a movie. Books have feelings, thoughts, and emotions implicitly explained and mentioned. in a movie you can't do that. You have to improvise sometimes to show why people do the things they do without a step by step explaination as to why. You only have events to tell you what is going on and nothing else. Unless a character actually speaks or you have a flashback its hard to show why things happen, which sometimes requires divergence from the source material. More than that there are tighter time and budget constraints.

    In total, I agree most book movies aren't as good as their source material. Even Lord of the Rings, as great as the films were, weren't the same. But many turn out well.

    I Am Legend? Sure it diviated quite a bit, but it wasn't a bad movie. It was good.

    Book movies can be good if your careful and find some interesting ways to do things. 300 was one of the best book movies I've seen in awhile, to the point that I'd say it was better than Frank Miller's original work. It stuck to Miller's ideas but added and expanded them and fit them perfectly into a movie format.

    V for Vendetta, though not a great replication of the original was an amazing film. Sure its a little weird America's social issues were projected onto the UK, but hey, who doesn't like a little spice?

    If there is a legendarily awful book film, it's Eragon. If you don't like the book, trust me you'll be happy you'll never want to see the movie. Talk about cutting out half the important events and characters to the point where I can't even see how an Eldest movie would ever make any sense!

    Starship Troopers was pretty bad too. Talk about taking a glorious masterpiece of science fiction and turning it into something it shouldn't have been (I hated and laughed at the movie. it was practically a spoof!)

    I don't think you can go into a book movie and expect the movie to be amazing. All you can expect is that you'll see something you like on film and you'll either enjoy it or you won't.
     
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  4. Solaris
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    Solaris Active Member

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    Why does it matter that much though, really?
    It isn't as if once a book is made into a film, the book suddenly vanishes and is no more.
    If you aren't into books being turned into movies... than just don't go see the film.
    And if you are someone that enjoys it, than it's just another nugget for your entertainment.

    Either way, obviously to me it's not that big of a deal LOL.
     
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  5. Speedy
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    Speedy Contributing Member Contributor

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    {quote] If there is a legendarily awful book film, it's Eragon. If you don't like the book, trust me you'll be happy you'll never want to see the movie. Talk about cutting out half the important events and characters to the point where I can't even see how an Eldest movie would ever make any sense![/quote]

    Thank you so very much, agreement is an understatement on this!

    I had to re-read the book to remember that it was a good read. If they make eldest i will save 2 hours of my life. (with the movie i dont think they can make it).

    I am Legend - better when you watch the alternative ending (the endinf the tes audience rejected). Made more sense (imo).

    No COuntry for old men - even though a little different, was well done.

    EDIT - Just have to Rep Lordofhates for it as well
     
  6. Acglaphotis
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    Acglaphotis Contributing Member

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    I don't usually mind them unless it's pretty good or the book was pretty good.

    I don't hold Harry Potter in a very high regard and I found the movie in the same realm of my care. So they are both equally good to me. The LOTR movies ,for me, fully surpass the books. I could never get into them very well, because of the wording and how it was written for the most part. Every time I think about not reading LOTR I become shameful for not being enough of a geek to take the time and read them up regardless of if I like them or not. Dexter, the series (I'm only mentioning this because it popped up in my mind when I read what you said about screenwriting, ), are equally good as the books too.[SIZE=-1]Blade Runner[/SIZE] was at least on par with the book (Do androids dream of electric sheep?).
    Actually, no. I don't remember a particularly bad movie based on a book right now. Edit: I Am Legend, lol.
     
  7. Solaris
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    Solaris Active Member

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    Actually I think I might have to agree about LOTR. o_o;
     
  8. Scattercat
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    Scattercat Active Member

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    I only watched Eragon with the assistance of the Rifftrax additions. I can't imagine how painful it would be without Mike Nelson's offbeat take on it.

    (MSTies for Life! Peace, my brothers and sisters!)
     
  9. manali
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    manali Member

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    Anyone like the John Grisham novels that have been made into films?

    I've read and seen "The Client" and liked both.

    Also "Runaway Jury" I thought that both novel and film were pretty good.

    But then I'm a John Grisham fan. :)
     
  10. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    I agree, LotR was a sensational film trilogy. In terms of Nightwatch and I Am Legend, the former is based on the book, albeit with some liberties taken, and only on the first story of (the three stories in) the book. Daywatch is the second story from Nightwatch.

    I Am Legend was a good, straight action movie. But I'll agree, it wasn't the book, and was nowhere near as good as the book.

    The Harry Potter films, I have never thought were anywhere near as good as the books. Half of them aren't very good as films in their own right.

    And Eragon was an awful book, and thus it stood to reason it would be an awful film. What I don't understand is how anyone could have thought it was a good story to put on the screen...
     
  11. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Ian Fleming's Live and Let Die wasn't a literary masterpiece, but it was decently written. But the movie of the same name, inaugurating Roger Moore as the next Bond, was absolutely painful with its racial (and Deep South cultural) stereotyping and positively horrid attempts at humor. The only good thing about it was that it launched the career of Jane Seymour.

    Actually, all of the Roger Moore Bond movies were pretty awful compared to the novels and short stories they were supposedly based on. But Live and Let Die still stands out to me as the worst of a bad lot.
     
  12. lordofhats
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    lordofhats Contributing Member

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    You don't know the half of it. Eragon already made very little sense as far as character motivations went, but in the film its wn exact carbon copy Point A, Point B, Point C, lets have a fight, Point D, oh no we're all gonna die moment etc. Imagine Star Wars: A New Hope, but all the motivations and reasons for character actions are gone! Han Solo doesn't rescue leia for money, he just does it because he can.
     
  13. Raven
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    Raven Banned

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    I actually don't mind roger moore. but I agree with you Live and let Die was the worst of all the books and films. Personally I prefare Peirce Brosnan. though Flemings never wrote any of the four movies Brosnan played 007.
     
  14. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    The Roger Moore films are awful, in my opinion. No one has been able to match Sean Connery yet.

    And I don't think Eragon is worth talking about in this thread. I don't understand how it was published as a book, and to be completely honest, the film was a fairly faithful adaptation of the book- it certainly conveyed the god-awfulness of it.
     
  15. lordofhats
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    lordofhats Contributing Member

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    Amen. :cool:

    The new guy is pretty good though. I like Craig. He's better than Bronson. I'd always thought Bronson was too much of a pansy to be a super spy.

    No Country for Old Men was a good one I'd forgotten about. It wasn't really my kind of story but by no means was it bad.

    The Tom Clancy Films, though not great, aren't bad either. Hunt for Red October was ok, and though a little boring the Sum of All Fears wasn't bad. I'm just waiting for Without Remorse and Rainbow Six.

    One book movie that still confuses me is Wanted. I liked the movie, it was a great action flick (One of the best in years imo), but considering how it has nothing to do with the original work by Alan Moore, I have no idea whether or not I should peg it as a bad movie.
     
  16. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Clear and Present Danger is one of my favourte films.
     
  17. lordofhats
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    lordofhats Contributing Member

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    I've never sat through all of Clear and Present Danger, but what I have seen was good.

    EDIT: And I'm pretty sure John Clark and Dingo are in it too :D
     
  18. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    They are yes. :)
     
  19. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I liked Pierce Brosnan, although his last outing as Bond was ruined by the writing (the invisible car was just plain stupid!).

    But Daniel Craig's Bond in Casino Royale really brought back the grit of the original novel, and then some. In my opinion, the movie far surpassed the novel. I am greatly anticipating the followup movie Quantum of Solace this winter.
     
  20. Still Life
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    Still Life Active Member

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    Film are films. Books are books. I like to look at them through their own merits as separate entities.

    I'd say I've seen some exceptional ones, though not all are based on English-language novels.

    Remains of the Day
    1947 Earth (Hindi)
    Water (Hindi)
    Schindler's List

    That's all I can recall off the top of my head. It's still morning here. My brain is in a fog.
     
  21. manali
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    manali Member

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    I agree.:)

    But I think the chase scenes are a bit too stretched out in the movie.
     
  22. Heather Louise
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    Heather Louise Contributing Member Contributor

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    If I ever got the chance to have one of my novels turned into a film, I would first of all be exceptionally amazed, but also I would consider it, but I would want to be invloved with it, like working with the producers and that to make sure that it is as the book is, not taking the basic idea and having the film completly differently.

    As for ones that have already been made from books to films, some have been crappy, some have been great. I think James Bond is an excellent example of the success someone can have from turning their novels into films and a lot of the Bond films and amazing. I was not a fan of the first few Harry Potter films, especially compared to the novels, but the fifth one, I must say was fantastic, I really enjoyed that.

    I am Ledgend was a fantastic film. Whether it was anything like the novel, I do not know as I have never read it, but the film was immense. Other good converts include Bram Stoker's Dracula and Of Mice and Men, which I know the latter follows the novel to a tee, and is an excellent visual representation.
    A terrible book turned into a film was the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, I despie these films as they are soooooo boring. But then, I didn't enjoy the books much, although I was only around 12 when I tried to read them.

    I do like the idea of novels being made into films as I think when someone sees the films, especially youths who may not read as much, with it being "geeky" and what-not, if the film was a success, it encourages the youths into perhaps reading the novel, and the more people reading, the better, in my opinion.
     
  23. Silver Random
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    Silver Random Senior Member

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    1st off, Lord of the Rings is probably my all time favourite film (series). It was done brilliantly, and is one of the few examples i know where such a popular book has become a film that is generally accepted as being as good as, or even surpassing the book.

    However, with other incredibly popular books, such as Harry Potter, i think its safe to say that nearly everyone who has experienced both book and film will say that the books are better. I know when i go to see a Harry Potter film it is always just going to be measured by how close it can get to being as good as the book (and most of the time the answer is, not very).

    But taking something like I Am Legend - i thought the film was brilliant. The only thing it suffered from in my opinion was that the basic premise was better than the actual plot; it was good when it was just Will Smith and his dog living in post apocalyptic New York, but then when new people showed up it went downhill (was still good though). However, the film had to go somewhere or else it would probably have been disappointing. Thats why i thought it would be better for a TV series than a film - that way it could explore an idea without the plot ever actually leading to something (a la Lost :p).

    Id never read the book of I am Legend - i didnt know there was one until after i'd seen the film. I've heard from a friend of mine that read it that the plot is nothing like the film. I think that this is probably the best way to do films based on books - take the idea, make the appropriate changes so that it can be better demonstrated in a film, and make it. But this is only really possible where the book is not incredibly popular - WB could never have taken Harry Potter and changed the plot the way they did with I Am Legend.

    LOTR worked because its plot, with a few minor tweaks, was equally, if not better, suited to being a film rather than a book. Harry Potter stories are definately better suited for book form, so the films were left scrambling to try and portray the same story in a film, and inevitably falling short of the book version.

    If i ever had a novel published and was asked if it could be turned into a film, i would definitely consider it. Acceptance would depend on whether i thought a good film could be made out of it - i would not accept if i honestly thought that a film would completely decimate the story told in the novel. If i did accept, i would need to have some access to the film. I would be more than willing to make changes, from minor to drastic, because i understand that films are different from novels, and cannot always do things the same way. And as long as it didnt change the themes and ideas beyond all recognition, i would be willing to completely change a story to make it more suitable for film format.

    That may be because i am more a fan of storytelling than i am of actual writing, so i consider a film as just as good a way of telling my story as a novel is.
     
  24. Gone Wishing
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    Gone Wishing Contributing Member

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    The thing is, films are a completely different kind of storytelling, and like any art form, it has its hits and misses - some things just get 'lost in translation', or ignored. The thing that surprises me more than a good book being made into a bad movie, is the plethora of really bad movies based on other forms of visual stotytelling - i.e. comics/graphic novels and video games - especially video games. >_>

    Some of the greatest films (in my humble opinion) ever made were based on books -Gone With The Wind, Rebecca, Howl's Moving Castle and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon spring immediately to mind. If I were to include graphic novels into the mix, they gave us Sin City and A Histoy of Violence, amongst many others. I can't discount the value of the practice of taking a story and re-telling it through a different medium based on some bad ones - best to focus on the positive. ;)
     
  25. ValianceInEnd
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    ValianceInEnd Active Member

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    *cough* not a zombie movie *cough*

    Did anyone watch the 13th Warrior? It was a pretty good adaptation of Micheal Chrichton's book Eater's of the Dead. The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms was a great but not very faithful adaptation of a short story by Ray Bradburry (I think) called Foghorn. I also believe Shrek was originally a children's book of a less goofy nature.
     

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