Tags:
  1. Noir

    Noir Member

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2019
    Messages:
    49
    Likes Received:
    58
    Location:
    The Heart of It All

    Movies to Books

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Noir, Nov 24, 2019.

    I'm sure at some point we've all been enjoying a book and wondered how it might translate over to film. I'm a strong advocate of the idea that a book is always better but I still enjoy visual media and can't help but to wonder how some of my favorite characters might appear on film. But that's not exactly what I'm talking about here...

    There have been times where I've been watching a movie and wondered how it might translate into a novel (obviously referring to movies that were not a novel first or that don't already have a book counterpart). Specifically, I was watching one of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies and was wondering how one might translate an eccentric character like Jack Sparrow into a book. His mannerisms, speech, and just overall persona are so tailored to visual media that I feel like it would be difficult to near impossible to garner the same reaction to his character on print that he received in film (whether you like him or hate him).

    So are there any movies out there that you feel would actually make terrible books? Or maybe just some movies that you think it would be a challenge to novelize? Whenever they turn a book into a movie, people are always quick to complain how they changed certain things, even if those changes were made in order for it to translate better on film. What changes would you have to make to your movie example to turn it into a book? What parts simply wouldn't work and might have to be omitted? What parts do you think could be made better?

    Another movie that I think would be difficult to novelize is Sam Raimi's The Evil Dead. Sometimes I think an actor just brings something to a character that would be lost in a narrator's description.
     
    Cdn Writer likes this.
  2. marshipan

    marshipan Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2013
    Messages:
    668
    Likes Received:
    1,325
    Location:
    Texas
    Not exactly what you asked, but I liked Clockwork Orange better as a movie. Seeing the world, hearing the slang, and watching the main character was much better with film in my opinion.
     
    Iain Aschendale, Cdn Writer and Noir like this.
  3. MilesTro

    MilesTro Senior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2007
    Messages:
    1,217
    Likes Received:
    93
    Location:
    Springfield
    I heard novellas are better adapted into movies, probably because they have similar lengths.
     
    Cdn Writer and Noir like this.
  4. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    16,161
    Likes Received:
    17,854
    Location:
    Scotland
    I feel the two media are sometimes more connected these days than they should be. As soon as a novel becomes a best-seller ...bingo, it's a movie. Some more successfully so than others.

    In general, I suppose, ANY novel could be made into a movie. I'm not a moviemaker, so I don't know what goes into the process. However, as @MilesTro mentioned, perhaps length is something to consider. Trying to condense a long novel into a two-hour-ish movie can miss the point, in a way.

    For me, the novels that would be very difficult to translate into movies would be when the novel's forward motion happens in the narrator/POV character's head. Something like It Happened In Boston (by Russell Greenan), which depicts the narrator's deterioration as he descends into real mental illness. His world itself doesn't deteriorate; only his perception of the world deteriorates—but he definitely sucks us in to his view of things. It would be difficult to translate that to film, I imagine. Ditto something like Riddley Walker, by Russell Hoban. If we got to actually see the things Riddley refers to, it would give the game away. It's the fact that the futuristic Riddley doesn't know what the relics of our civilisation actually are that makes the story. Huge cathartic moment for the reader when we finally put the puzzle together.

    Then, of course, there are the books where the settings are lush and the characters numerous ...and the cost of portraying all of that would be pretty difficult to meet. Some said Lord of the Rings could never be filmed because of this reason ...but of course, eventually, somebody did film it successfully. However, its success was pretty much assured. LOTR is one of the most popular books in the world; the chances of nobody wanting to see the movie were slim. The movie would have had to be AWFUL in order to actually lose money, I reckon. (To our delight, it was pretty damn good ...but it probably killed the book for the next generation.)

    In its day, I suppose Gone With The Wind came into the same category. It was a VERY popular novel by Margaret Mitchell at the time, so the cost of making the movie wasn't as big a gamble as it looked. All they had to do was a decent job (which they did) and success was pretty much assured.

    I don't know. My own preference is usually to see a movie AS a movie. I prefer movies that are unique stories and were never novels to begin with. For me, it's never a case of 'read the book, see the movie,' or 'see the movie, read the book.' I usually try to do one or the other, but not both.

    To be honest, I prefer TV series adaptions to movies, because a TV series DOES allow for the kind of slow character/event development that longer novels do so well. If you must film it, maybe film it as a series? Like the Pride and Prejudice TV series, or Cranford, or Wives and Daughters.
     
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2019
  5. Thundair

    Thundair Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2017
    Messages:
    1,081
    Likes Received:
    883
    Location:
    San Diego
    I like the idea of a series and when I watch a movie now without a resolution at the end, I’m disappointed.
    When I was writing my book, I always envisioned it as a series, as it is written with the Haitian revolution (1800s) as a backdrop of my troubled characters. There was so much more happening that I didn’t show writing in first person.
     
    Cdn Writer likes this.
  6. peachalulu

    peachalulu Member Reviewer Contributor

    Joined:
    May 20, 2012
    Messages:
    4,389
    Likes Received:
    3,318
    Location:
    occasionally Oz , mainly Canada
    Any dance movie. Dance, dancing seems to me to be one of the most singular difficult things to capture in the written word. The energy, excitement, movement coupled with music it's impossible to describe.

    Some books just don't make good movies they count too much on the written word and the charm of it - Breakfast of Champions -- and the visuals, performances just don't have the same impact (though I did think Albert Finney was quite good as Kilgore Trout). I recall reading The Island by Peter Benchley it's a pretty exciting book about a man and his son captured by pirates -- kinda like Jaws meets Clan of the Cave Bear -- and he has to adapt to escape with his son. The movie version was terrible but I'm not sure what about the book screamed this would make a great movie (other than Peter Benchley wrote it). First of all the details are grungy - fresh skins are slapped on the man so they'll cure to his contours. Ugh. No one washes properly. The woman are hairy. And our hero is helpless most of the time, easier to control with strict prose than an open scene where you reason -- can't he just slip out the back of the tent or whatever and the violence is almost too much. So I'm not some that thinks every book would make a great movie or every movie could be turned into a book ... though that nearly happened in the 80s ...

    Ever read a novelization? I don't know if they still do them but they were huge in the 80s any movie that came out and you could pretty much buy the novelization of it - from Heartbeeps, to Over the Top to License to Drive. Most of them were flimsy junk but occasionally there was a rare gem in the bunch.
     
  7. Cdn Writer

    Cdn Writer Senior Member

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2019
    Messages:
    375
    Likes Received:
    270
    Location:
    Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, North America
    I always thought the movie "Mr. Brooks" with Kevin Costner/William Hurt playing the central character as the split personality serial killer and Demi Moore as the Detective assigned to catch him would have been a really good book. Nothing wrong with the movie, I just thought it was too short. I also thought this was a very good collaboration book as the central character was a split personality so two different writing voices would be perfect....
     
    Noir likes this.
  8. Noir

    Noir Member

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2019
    Messages:
    49
    Likes Received:
    58
    Location:
    The Heart of It All
    I haven't received a single notification from this thread since I made it until today so I thought that it had died. I'm going to read and reply ASAP!
     
  9. Noir

    Noir Member

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2019
    Messages:
    49
    Likes Received:
    58
    Location:
    The Heart of It All
    My post is a jumbled mess. I'm trying to be too precise, I think. Breaking it down, I am looking for which movies you think would be difficult or impossible to turn into a novel. @peachalulu made a really good point in bringing up dance movies. I think Footloose would be near-impossible to translate into a novel. I couldn't imagine trying to write his lone, angry dance scene in a novel. I think it was awkward enough on the screen.

    But it doesn't have to be an entire movie, either. Are there particular scenes in a movie that you think would be difficult to portray in a novel? What would need to change in that scene in order to better portray it in narrative? I brought up the character of Jack Sparrow from the Pirates movies because of his physical mannerisms and how much of his character is defined just in the way that he moves that I think would be difficult to capture in a narrative.

    I've mentioned before in other posts, I've never actually read The Lord of the Rings but I've heard people say that the character of Aragorn was more well-defined in the movies than he was in the books.

    I don't like seeing a movie based on a book unless I've read the book. No movie has ever made me want to read the book, regardless of my opinion on the movie. I think it has to do with my aversion to spoilers and how I don't want to pick up and read an entire novel when I already know the story (or a version of the story). Maybe that's what you meant when you mention how The Lord of the Rings films probably killed the books for the next generation.

    If there is going to be an on-screen adaptation of a book, I also prefer a TV series over a movie and just in general, I've found myself preferring series over movies. I would rather sit through a few seasons of a series that I like than to sit through 15 'meh' movies to find a single gem that I adore. That's not to say that I don't still enjoy movies because I absolutely do and I certainly have problems with series (mostly with those series that just drag on for season after season).

    I think the only novelization I tried reading was of A New Hope and I thought it was terrible. It was written by George Lucas himself and I think he's a better storyteller on screen than he is on the page. Back when the Marvel Cinematic Universe started picking up, I read through a few pages of one of their novelizations (I want to say it was The Avengers but I can't be sure) and I think I only did that because I heard mention that they had expanded on the Thanos scene.

    Aside from that, however, I don't think I've ever sat down and read a full novelization. I should give a go just for the experience. You mentioned that there are a few gems. Any recommendations? Also, you mentioned Clan of the Cave Bear. I first heard about that from my brother and after that, it seems that everyone and their mother brings it up. I really need to pick it up.

    I've never seen the movie but I'll check it out. Just from your description of it, I think a story like that could actually be better as a book than a movie as you can really get inside of the head of a character and their personalities.
     
    Cdn Writer likes this.
  10. Cdn Writer

    Cdn Writer Senior Member

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2019
    Messages:
    375
    Likes Received:
    270
    Location:
    Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, North America
    My big issue with movies is that they seem to be over too soon. I always seem to have more questions at the end than the movie answered. I do like television series for that reason myself.

    There is one specific area where a television show or a movie (anything on film) has it over a book - they can SHOW, rather than TELL the setting. I have always had the problem of figuring out how much detail to include. Really, if the scene in the book is going to be:

    Billy shot Chuck.

    Isn't that enough? If I was to expand it to be something like,

    Billy held the gun steady, pointed directly at Chuck's head. Chuck froze as he focused on the extremely large bore of the pistol in Billy's hand.

    Pistol?! That thing was a freaking bazooka!! Surely it was too heavy for Billy to hold so calmly while it was pointed right at his face....

    Chuck crumbled to the floor, a gaping hole where his face used to be. His brain never processed the sound of the gunshot. His body twitched twice on the bare floor and then was still.

    Billy tucked the pistol back into his waistband and exited the small office, wrapping the edge of his sweatshirt over his hand as he turned the door knob in order to avoid leaving fingerprints. The smell of the gun smoke lingered in the air.



    I guess it makes the story "breathe" more but it also seems like the writer is trying to run up the word count and get paid by the word. When you film it, you basically just have the action of Billy shooting Chuck and then putting the pistol away and leaving the office. Everything else, the lack of Chuck's face, the twitching and then still body, the sight of the gun smoke - that's all shown and doesn't need to be described.
     
    Noir likes this.
  11. More

    More Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2019
    Messages:
    105
    Likes Received:
    76
    I don't believe Your question is valid . Books and films are such different mediums . It is possible to have a book and film of the same name and have the same story but still be very different. 2001 a space odyssey was original inspired by a A C Clarke's short story , The Sentinel . Kubrick and Clarke collaborated in writing the film , and Clarke published the book in his own name after the film. The film has little dialog , jumps from one scene to another and has an ending that is both obscure and totally relent on its imagery. The book was not as good , and could not mach the film . The imagery linked to the music can't be replicated in a book.
     
  12. Noir

    Noir Member

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2019
    Messages:
    49
    Likes Received:
    58
    Location:
    The Heart of It All
    I don't disagree with much of what you said but I fail to see how any of it makes what I said invalid. If anything, the examples you've given actually add to the validity of my post since it was about the challenges inherit in translating a story from one medium to the other.
     
  13. More

    More Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2019
    Messages:
    105
    Likes Received:
    76
    I agree my use of the word invalid in not the right word . Type in haste, regret at your leisure
    However , I don't know of any film that has been made into a book , except 2001 . I also agree with you , to turn the Pirates of the Caribbean into a book , and maintain the spirit of the film would probably be impossible. That is true of most if not all films.
     
  14. Cdn Writer

    Cdn Writer Senior Member

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2019
    Messages:
    375
    Likes Received:
    270
    Location:
    Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, North America
    It's not quite what is meant, but there are some video games, I am thinking specifically of the Dragon Age video games for the X-Box 360 that have had some books come out of the game universe. I haven't read them because I was afraid they would be horrid and I did not want the game experience spoiled.

    A google search of movies to books showed a report on "Cracked" - 5 great movies that were turned into terrible books.

    The movies to books they list are: E.T., Total Recall (the first movie with Arnold S), Jaws: The Revenge, Gremlins, and Halloween.

    Anyways....that's just what turns up after a brief search. I'm sure there are more.
     
  15. Selbbin

    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2012
    Messages:
    3,814
    Likes Received:
    2,561
    Location:
    Australia
    Odd. I thought Total Recall was based on the Philip K Dick short story "We Remember it for you Wholesale"? Or did they do a novel of the movie of the novel, which they could have done considering the differences.
     
    Cdn Writer and Noir like this.
  16. Noir

    Noir Member

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2019
    Messages:
    49
    Likes Received:
    58
    Location:
    The Heart of It All
    Yeah. The short story We Can Remember It for You Wholesale by Philip K. Dick came first. It was a magazine publication from the 60's. I can't say I remember the story that well but I believe the movie took a lot of liberties, especially since it was only a short story.
     
    Cdn Writer likes this.
  17. Selbbin

    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2012
    Messages:
    3,814
    Likes Received:
    2,561
    Location:
    Australia
    Massively. For a start they don't go to Mars in the short story. The 'remake' with Colin Farrell is apparently more accurate, but also more shit.
     
    Cdn Writer likes this.
  18. Noir

    Noir Member

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2019
    Messages:
    49
    Likes Received:
    58
    Location:
    The Heart of It All
    I haven't seen the remake but I still love the one with Arnold. It just screams satire. I also saw it well before I read the story or even knew who Philip K. Dick was so that might contribute to my opinion of it.

    I just looked up a summary of the story. It's all coming back to me. The ending of the short story was a little ridiculous, too. But can I really trust my own memories...?
     
    Cdn Writer likes this.
  19. Selbbin

    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2012
    Messages:
    3,814
    Likes Received:
    2,561
    Location:
    Australia
    I see what you did there.... ;)
     
    Noir and Cdn Writer like this.
  20. More

    More Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2019
    Messages:
    105
    Likes Received:
    76
    Dicks story was published in 1966 . It had the same central character Douglas Quail . The getting a memory implant and being a secret agent are the same .
    It is not one of Dicks better stories . It looks as if he started it , got about half way , run out of ideas, and stuck a silly ending onto it to finish. The film is better than the original story. But has the same fault .
     
    Noir and Cdn Writer like this.
  21. Cdn Writer

    Cdn Writer Senior Member

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2019
    Messages:
    375
    Likes Received:
    270
    Location:
    Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, North America
    Well, I guess it wasn't a movie that was turned into a book then. Sorry! The perils of depending on the internet for answers.

    I was a little surprised by E.T. being a movie that became a book because I thought movies started as scripts (a type of writing) before becoming a movie.....I guess the Cracked writer didn't consider scripts as "books."
     
  22. Selbbin

    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2012
    Messages:
    3,814
    Likes Received:
    2,561
    Location:
    Australia
    That's because scripts are not books.

    Anyway, here's a list of some.

    https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/72058.Best_Movie_Novelisations
     
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2019
    Cdn Writer and Noir like this.
  23. Noir

    Noir Member

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2019
    Messages:
    49
    Likes Received:
    58
    Location:
    The Heart of It All
    Did you? Did you, really? Or was that just implanted in your head by....

    You know what? That's a deep rabbit hole. How about I just don't? :]
     
    Cdn Writer likes this.
  24. Malisky

    Malisky Sirocco Contributor

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2012
    Messages:
    1,981
    Likes Received:
    3,467
    Location:
    The Middle of Nowhere The Center of Everywhere
    Why on satan's earth would a writer want to write a story that's already been told? Writing is a long, lonely sport. Creating a movie isn't. (Might be long considering pre and post, but at least not lonely at all. Too crowded I'd say). It's a different media that serves different reasons. Writers "tell" a story, and don't go playing with words when I say that. Don't give me that crap with "show, don't tell". You know what I mean. The writer, writes words. The reader, reads them. Words, see? Telling. Thus, the writer is the creator of the story, which he shares via telling it. Even movies need a script. Who writes it? The scriptwriter! The director and his/her crew though, collaborate in order to "show" the story. A much easier and more direct mean of communicating it. So, what's the point of taking something more easy and direct and making it more difficult and indirect when the story has already been told? I know that many writers dream of having their novel make it to the movies, but never have I ever heard of a director that cared to have his movie written down as a novel. Nor of a scriptwriter. If the scriptwriter wished so, he most probably would have written down a novel first and then produce its script form. Makes sense that way.

    Indeed, good novels or even popular novels make it into the movies. Stories that'd sell tickets. In Japan a lot of their TV and film industries rely on popular manga stories. It doesn't matter if something is lengthy as long as it guaranties sales. Thus, the longer, the better. Series is the new trend. This industry is bigger than movies nowadays. Lots of money going in.
     
    Cdn Writer likes this.
  25. Noir

    Noir Member

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2019
    Messages:
    49
    Likes Received:
    58
    Location:
    The Heart of It All
    I was thinking of it as more of an interesting writing exercise. Take a particular scene from a movie, one that very much benefits from it being a visual media, and determine the best way you would convey that scene in the written word (say assuming it had been a book first). A movie where the story revolves heavily around music or dancing very much benefits from the fact that you can hear the music and see the dancing. But I dare say that somebody like Patrick Rothfuss did a wonderful job in conveying music in his novel The Name of the Wind.

    Or going back to my original example, the character of Captain Jack Sparrow from the Pirates of the Caribbean is greatly benefited by the screen as it really allows us to see his character quirks. Do you think you could accurately, or at least faithfully, portray the personality of that character or a similar one with nothing more than the written word?

    I'm going to pick one up the next time I'm at my local used bookstore; I keep seeing novelizations of popular comic book heroes such as Spider-Man and I always wonder if I could enjoy reading a novel of his adventures as opposed to the more visually pleasing comic books that are his origins. Could you imagine if Spider-Man had gotten his start in novels as opposed to comic books? My mental image of a teenager/young adult wearing a red and blue spandex costume meant to symbolize a spider (even complete with webs under his arms) would look absolutely ridiculous as where in the panels of a comic book, I think it looks pretty darn cool.

    You mention a lot of Japanese TV and film relying on popular manga stories but that's not really quite the same thing. Sure mangas and films are different from one another and certainly each one can probably do things story-wise that the other can't but you're still translating from one visual medium to another.

    However, you make an excellent point concerning a screenwriter writing their script down as a novel first and then a script second. After all, Michael Crichton originally wanted to be a screenwriter for movies but even after his most popular novel Jurassic Park was turned into a widely successful film, he continues to find more success as an author than a screenwriter. As I recall, he turned to writing novels as something of an alternative and as an attempt to break into his true passion of screenwriting.
     
    Cdn Writer and Malisky like this.

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice