As a little kid, I used to watch a TV adaptation of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five series. It was more out of the excitement of seeing a favourite book series on TV than anything else – until then I had only seen the film adaptations of Heidi and Tom Sawyer. Watching a TV series week after week was pure extended joy! Even then, a part of me knew the books were definitely better. I would get disappointed each time they deleted a scene from the book or changed the situation. It didn’t seem right.
Of course, growing up, I realized it happened all the time and TV/film adaptations were simply not to be trusted. As they say, “Never judge a book by its movie.”
But there are rules, decrees, corollaries, exceptions and then some. There have been times when movies have been almost as good as the book (Gone With The Wind, off the top of my head). There was one boring book which I’d read, and despite knowing the movie could not be in any way better, I still gave it a chance (because – Meryl Streep). It was more boring than the book. And then I watched Water, a movie so amazing that though it was not adapted from a book, I found myself wishing it was, because if a movie can be so beautiful and its story so poignant, then imagine how much better its book might have been [trivia: it was later released as a book as well, but that’s not the same thing as being adapted from one].
Then there are these books.
I have to say, when I first picked up The Devil Wears Prada, I didn’t know it had been adapted into a movie. It had a catchy title, and honestly, I half-expected a horror-comedy type thing. It was boring, long-winded and pointless (maybe I’m just not into chick-lit). But a few years later, I watched the movie. It was really funny. It was, I have to say, so much better than the book!
PS: Because I liked the movie, I bought the sequel of the book, Revenge Wears Prada. Oh drab drab drivel drivel. Sigh.
2) Bridget Jones’ Diary (2001)
I had a vague idea that there was a movie by the same name, but for some reason I assumed it was a murder mystery (really, I need to stop assuming!) Bridget Jones’s Diary was heralded at the time as excellent feminist literature. Oh come on! It was barely literature! It was a girl crying about her life because she was always with the wrong guy – how’s that feminist? The author claimed it was a modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice, but even then it was just eh. The movie though – I loved it so much that when I watched it four times in the week I got the DVD and watched it several times after.
PS: I’d add the second book too, but the movie was equally boring. I’ve heard there’s a third book out – I don’t know how it is.
I must admit, when I read Dracula earlier this year is when the idea for this post struck me. I knew if I rattled my memory for sometime, I’d come up with more movies that turned out better than the book. Read my review of the book here.
4) The Hobbit (2012)
I am a huge fan of Lord of the Rings (I have a quote tattoo and everything) that I expected myself to enjoy The Hobbit as well. I read it in college, a few years after I read LOTR. What I did not know at the time was that The Hobbit was originally intended by JRR Tolkien for children (LOTR was not) and I did not like most children’s stories even as a child! The movie(s) though, are anything like children’s movie(s). Even if they were, ironically, I now enjoy kiddie movies very much!
Four seems like a very small number, as compared to the millions of movies that get adapted from books. Do you think there are more movies that are better than their parent books?