Talk to Me Tuesday #9 - Book-to-Film Adaptations

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Talk to Me Tuesday is a brand new weekly meme where we will discuss anything (and everything) literary-related in an open forum of honesty. Questions for the next week will be posted one week prior to the post on the Features page. If you'd like to participate in this weekly feature, simply create your post, link back to me, and add your post to the wonderful Mr. Linky below. Have fun, and have at it!
This week's question: What is your take on book to film you have a favourite or least favourite?

It's no secret. I love books, but I also really love movies. So, when I find out a book I love is becoming a film, naturally my first reaction is to be ecstatic, but then I remember the nature of Hollywood and the "creative liberties" that are often taken in films. Sometimes they work for me. Other times they make me leave the theatre fuming...or laughing hysterically at just how ridiculous the changes were. Overall though, book-to-film adaptations are bit of a hit or miss with me. I either love them, or I just love to hate them.

I think that the Harry Potter film series is a perfect example of adaptations done right. While I thought the first film was blashphemy and the second film was just a smidge better, they definitely raised the bar with the next films in the franchise. Honestly, yes, I've read the books so many times that when I see something omitted I want to pull my hair out, but the creative liberties they take have been done rather well. They balance the story with the overall theme and actually develop the characters. And, hey, if J.K herself gave them her stamp of approval, that's good enough for me. In the realm of contemps, I think my favourite book to film adaptation would have to be either A Walk to Remember or Atonement. Both were incredibly well done and well acted, despite a few deviations the story in the book. Other runners-up for me would have to be The Notebook (yes, Nicholas Sparks, you win), The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe, and Legend of the Seeker (even if it WAS just a TV show...I'm pissed it was canceled.)

Then, however, we have the absolute opposite end of the spectrum where the films decide it's necessary to take a beautiful book, butcher it and rip it shreds, stomp on it, then watch it crash and burn on a giant screen. The prime example of this for me would have to be Dear John. This is one heck of a beautiful book (like all his stories), and I was so excited to see it, but I left the theatre having laughed my way through it. The only moment I felt any emotion at all was for John's father. They brushed aside the whole aspect of the letters and the relationship between the characters to make it into some skeezy little Hollywood romance. And despite the fact that Channing's abs are pretty much box office gold (and drool-worthy eye candy), I hated the film. Other book-to-film adaptations that really didn't work for me were My Sister's Keeper (they just massacred the end), The Lovely Bones, The Lightning Thief, I Am Number Four and (go figure) The Last Song.

Here's what some of your fellow bloggers weighed in as their favourites & takes on book-to-film adaptations:

Jamie at The Perpetual Page Turner said, "I think they are VERY hard to do with all the adapting that needs to be done. Sometimes if you stick too close to the book it can sometimes not translate well into a movie. And sometimes it seems like they take out all the things that MAKE the book."
Ashlie from Bookish Novelties said, "I think my fave adaptation is To Kill A Mockingbird."
Avery from Avery's Book Nook said, "Pride and Prejudice (the newer version)... I actually prefer the movie over the book..."

Want to weigh in and do your own Talk to Me Tuesday post for this week? Go ahead and link up!


  1. I actually quite enjoyed I am Number Four (thought I haven't read the book, and may have been distracted by a certain attractive movie star)!

    I agree that the Harry Potter and Narnia movies have been spectacular! Same with The Notebook. <3

    In general, I get excited about book-to-movie adaptions! Even if they turn out horrible, I'll go see them and laugh. Plus, they mean that a ton of people will be reading the book the movie was adapted from. Yay for more people reading! :)

  2. I loved Dear John and Last Song the book better also. I'm hoping The Lucky One turns out better.

  3. I hate movie adaptations, almost without exception. I never feel like they get it right and it frustrates me to no end. My family/friends hate watching adaptations with me, because I have a hard time keeping my mouth shut. I just get so frustrated! I used to feel like I had to watch the movie for every book I read and loved, but have since decided that if I've read the book, or have any intention of reading the book, ever, I just won't go see the movie. I've been much happier since then. :)

    I kinda feel like a little part of the book has to die to make that movie.

  4. I am not a big fan of my favourite books being made into movies. I always imagine the characters completely different and I hate it when the miss out scenes. My favourite books to movie adaptations are Tomorrow When The War Began and Looking for Albrandi :)

  5. I agree with you on the first Harry Potter films. I did not care for them. But they've definitely become better. Never read The Notebook, but LOVE the movie. I'd like to read The Lovely Bones. The movie looked interesting, but it was a big flop. I agree with The Perpetual Page-Turner, if the movie sticks too closely to the book it doesn't work. It's best to take some creative liberty. I'm sure it's hard for author's to see their work on screen if the movie sucks. Even if it's good, I'm sure they are critical because it's not what they envisioned. But that's the way it works when your movie is sold. It's in the hands of someone else now. All they can do is hope that it works on screen.

    One movie I bet will be good is The Hunger Games. Suzanne Collins, a screenwriter, is writing it herself. That works -- then again only if you are a screenwriter :)

  6. My favourite book-to-movie adaptation is North and South - it is flawless! Also, LoTR trilogy.
    I agree about the movie version of My Sister's Keeper - it was awful!

  7. There are very few film adaptations that I have ever felt captured the book. I would totally agree with Ashlie that one of the best is To Kill a Mockingbird. And while I enjoyed seeing Harry Potter come to life on screen, I also felt that the books were so much better. I am hoping that Beastly out this month, will do a goo job with the story, but I never have really high expectations when I go to see a movie base on a book. That way I will not be too disappointed.

  8. My take? I love adaptations. And I have too many favorites to name. Too many. THE GODFATHER, definitely. THE SOCIAL NETWORK, absolutely. And even though Stephen King wasn't a fan himself, I loved THE SHINING- the novel AND the adaptation, too. That one, for me, is a perfect example of the creative liberties taken that didn't hamper my enjoyment of the film at ALL. I mean, Jack Nicholson as Jack Torrance? Please.

    Other adaptations I've loved were SHUTTER ISLAND, FIGHT CLUB, THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION, GOODFELLAS, ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST, THE DEPARTED, THE LORD OF THE RINGS. And so many others but this comment will be 90,000 words long if I continue!

  9. I liked the movie Dear John, but I haven't read the book yet. Overall, I like what they do with movies, I just don't let the book influence my opinion while watching the movie.
    The Lord of the Rings trilogy was one of my favorite adaptation!

  10. Great post! I agree with harry potter. Although I have never read or seen dear john, I don't plan on watching it. Not a Channing fan. But you make me want to read the book!

  11. I have to admit I love the Harry Potter movies. But I also loved that Dear John had a better ending then the book. I through it across the room when I read the final page completely upset. But I was really happy that the movie gave it a much better ending.

  12. I agree that the HP movies are getting better. Although the 7th movie was good for someone who is a huge book fan, but kinda slow for people who aren't as familiar with the books.
    Other than HP, it's hard to get better than To Kill a Mockingbird. I also loved Pride & Prejudice with Colin Firth. I think Matthew MacFadyen of P&P 2005 is cuter but BBC P&P is a better movie.

  13. Great question.
    It's a hit or miss for me. But I do love watching both and comparing :)

  14. It's rare I'll come across a movie, in which I've read the book, & still enjoyed it. The books are just WAY better for me! I adore the movie Atonement & have been meaning to read the book (which I just picked up last week from the bookstore! Yay!). So I'll be curious as to how I feel about the movie after I've read the book.

    I recently read Beastly because I wanted to see the movie when it comes out. Ugh. The book was not good, at all. I still have hopes for the movie though. Hello - Alex Pettyfer?! Yes, please.

    As for Dear John. Hollywood did the typical thing & changed the ending to make everyone "happy". Well guess what?! Life doesn't always end in sunshine & rainbows! Ugh. I preferred the book's ending much, much more.

  15. I didn't mind the film version of "I Am Number 4", but then again the book didn't really do it for me. I just thought that Number 6 was pretty kick-butt in the movie.

  16. I actually really loved Dear John and mostly because I liked drooling over Channing …:D
    They completely changed the end….but I think I liked that too, just because it gave closure to the relationship. I agree with you about My Sisters Keeper…AWFUL…and The Lovely Bones…each two one of my favorite books. I think Twilight was pretty bad as a movie and they butchered The Time Travelers Wife.

    I loved Lord of Rings…thought they were better than the books and I thought Hollywood did a great job with The Notebook.

  17. I want to see I am Number Four but I have heard it's a dissapointment if you read the book. I love Pride & Prejudice (with Kiera Knightly) even though it's different from the book. My husband listened to the Millenium trilogy audio books by Stieg Larsson and was VERY dissapointed by all three movies. I didn't read the books but I thought the films were a bit cheesy...
    Truly Bookish

  18. I should not say this but...the LOTR movies are better than the books O_o shame on me (pssst same with Austen ;)

    But worst ever adaption is Dune, they all suck

  19. Nicholas Sparks books to films have been great expect for that one mentioned above.

    Also a huge disappointment, The Reader and The Time Traveler's Wife. :(

  20. I totally agree about Harry Potter. The first movie was fairly disappointing but then they got better and better. That is such a beautiful poster for #7.

  21. One book to film in which I liked the movie much more than the book was the notebook!! I think b/c they focused so much on their relationship at the beginning.

    If you didn't like twilight and the other paranormal YA's, I really don't recommend Falling Under b/c it's pretty much identical. I loved Twilight, but the others have all seemed like clones to me.

  22. I LOVED Atonement, but I think one of my favorite adaptations was The Secret Garden made circa 1993? I was so beautiful done and perfect - really, check it out if you've never gotten the chance.

    Twilight, hahaha, I enjoyed the books okay, but the first film was way too emo for me!

  23. It is rare, but sometimes the movie does outshine the book. They take what works and make it better because they change what doesn't. Love when that happens.

  24. To Kill a Mockingbird is probably my all-time favorite book-to-movie adaptation. That movie (much like the book) is perfection.

    There are quite a few laughable adaptations and some get me really, really irked, but some don't bother me so much. I actually really enjoyed the I Am Number Four movie, despite many 'creative liberties.' The incredible music was probably a factor, as was Number Six's absolutely kick-ass nature.

  25. My fave adaption is To Kill a Mockingbird, too! That was when I read and watched it in Grade 10, hehe.

    The Lovely Bones from the book to the movie, I thought, was not so good. I saw the movie first, and I liked it, but sort of didn't. When I read the book, I found out it was completely different from the movie.

    And I've yet to take on I Am Number Four ;)

  26. Hey- Sorry so late to post. Trying to get back to my routines. I generally don't like adaptations. I didn't like the first few HP movies even. They have gotten better. Twilight sucked. Percy Jackson was one of the worst I've seen. Annabeth's hair color was wrong the fight in St. Louis didn't happen, everything was wrong. I hated it. Kids that read the book couldn't discuss the series with the kids that only saw the movies because there was such a difference. Shame on Hollywood!


  27. "Legend of the Seeker (even if it WAS just a TV show...I'm pissed it was canceled.)"

    Haha! I just came across this, and after our mutual obsession with Veronica Mars, I had to comment! I loved Legend of the Seeker too! Lol. I was so sad to hear that it got cancelled, but I'm trying to placate myself by reading the first book in Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series!


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