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Jun 25
2013

Is the book always better than the movie?

Posted by: amy

Recently we shared a Buzzfeed article on our Facebook page that lists 14 new movies based on popular fiction. You can see the original article here.  They are all terrific books and we have many of them at the library. The premise of the article is that, as they say "99% of the time the book is better than the movie." As librarians, we're inclined to agree with this statement, but we're also curious to know what you think.

This may be a controversial/ surprising statement, but there are a few movies that we think outshine the books on which they are based.  Here are 3 great movies based some "meh" books (or some pretty great books, that are out-shined by their film adaptations). Use the comments to let us know what you think!

Jaws

What is Jaws without the "budump. budump budump?" Everything we love about Jaws comes from the movie.  From the amazing and instantly recognizable score to Robert Shaw's performance as the unflappable sea captain, Quint- Jaws has been making kids afraid to go in the water for over 30 years. The novel by Peter Benchley, while based on true stories of shark attacks, lacks the emotional oomph and sheer terror of the movie.

The Godfather

There's no doubt that Mario Puzo's novel The Godfather is a classic. It's rich, it's epic and it served to introduce Americans to the world of Mafia. But the thing we like most about The Godfather: A Novel, is that it brought us Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather-  and even better, The Godfather II (we will not mention The Godfather II except to say that we will not acknowledge it). 

In some ways comparing the book and the movies is really apples to oranges. What Coppola brings to the film adaptation is a lushness and fullness that is lacking in the novel(s). When your uncle does his best Godfather impression, it's not the book he's impersonating, it's Marlon Brando. Maybe we're feeling a little misty eyed and sentimental at the passing of James Gandolfini, but when you see Tony Soprano impersonating Michael Corleone ("I keep trying to get out, but they keep dragging me back in") you can't help feel like you've hit the trifecta of American cinema.

The Princess Bride

It's clever and it's funny but we think The Princess Bride by William Goldman pales in comparison to the film version. Just as in the film, the book is presented as an "abridged" version of another book, by S. Morgenstern (this full-version of the book doesn't exist, btw. We wish we would have know this when we were 12 and desperately searching for it). Just as the movie follows the adventures of Princess Buttercup, Prince Humperdinck, Westley the farm boy, and Vazzini and his small band of thugs, so too does the book. It's the places where the book and film diverge that lose interest. Goldman interjects large passages of "journal entries" from the modern world that, which are hilarious, but detract from our intent, which is always to "get Humperdinck."

BTW Goldman's book began as bedtime stories that he told his daughters.  How awesome is that?!

So what do you think? Have you read any of these books? Seen the movies? Are there books you want to read before the movie comes out? Are there movies that you think are better than the books they were adapted from? Let us know!

 

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