In English class today, I was looking at all of the books my fellow classmates had posted in the Google+ Community when I realized something aloud, “a lot of these novels became shit movies”. Now I’m not saying the book that they’re reading is horse crap. I’m just saying that some books don’t make a very seamless transition to film. For example, I’m reading Gulliver’s Travels by Johnathan Swift and it is simply excellent. That pile of dung with Jack Black? Not so excellent. So in light of those discoveries, I’ve decided to look at some of the better transitions between books and films.
The movie machine is a ravenous beast, constantly devouring ideas and film pitches, despite their originality. Hollywood is always scavenging the old attic, searching for dusty material it can remix into sequels, reboots, adaptations and prequels every 10 years. However, much to everyone’s surprise, some of these rehashes end up becoming great works of film.
1. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl)
When I first watched the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate, it was in the middle of a school lockdown caused by an armed man wandering onto my elementary school campus. The fact that I fell in love with the movie in the middle of a serious situations speaks volumes about how much of a masterpiece it is. Even though the film made massive changes with Roald Dahl’s story, to the point where he refused to watch the film, it is a perfectly good example of a movie being comparable to its source material. Gene Wilder plays a perfect Wonka, likable yet maniacal, and is noted with one of one of the best character introductions in cinema history, the limp and roll. The magic of the chocolate factory easily comes to life through motion picture and the Oompa Loompa scenes are so inventive that I don’t even have the time to go in depth about them. So many fantastical memories in such a great movie.
2. 2001: A Space Odyssey (2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke)
From the beginning of humanity to the breakthroughs and advancements of space exploration, the movie stays the course of the main ideas and themes tackled by the original novel. But more important than that, Kubrick’s adaptation provided for groundbreaking and thought provoking visualization, and one of my all time favorite villains, HAL.
Obviously there are instances in which the novel and film differ, which is perfectly normal for a movie based on a source material that is practically based on the reader’s own interpretation. Other details, such as the changing appearance of the monolith and the switching of location to Jupiter are caused by technical production restraints of the time period. How is that for irony? Although it was controversial upon its release, Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey has become one of the most beautiful science-fiction film in cinema history.
3. The Prestige (The Prestige by Christopher Priest)
If you’ve never read The Prestige by Christopher Priest, you are missing out. If you’ve never seen the movie The Prestige, dude, where have you been? Both, in my opinion, are masterpieces in their own medium, and I believe it to my sole purpose in life to tell others about the magic behind the story.
Although the Nolan Bros. removed some novel material, including the diary story telling and the spiritual background, the movie stands up to its source material with ease. What the Nolans managed to do with the movie, is greater than any magic trick performed within the story. They were able to take a story of rival magicians and transformed it into a mirror on how far humans are willing to go in order to one up one another. While many viewers prefer the novels, “ghost in machine” ending, I myself prefer the Nolan resolution. I don’t want to spoil it.
4. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson)
My 4th and final example is both an adaptation and a reboot. Since I was such a big fan of the novels, I jumped on my high horse and said, “nope”. However, my friend Connor, who is also a big fan of the books, said it was great and that he really loved it. I asked him how it ended and he said that it stayed true to the book. This is what made me leap off my horse. After watching the movie, I was astonished. The movies dedication to its source content, as well as its settings, really surprised me, but in a good way. I was really glad the movie didn’t tamper with the story, so it was an A+ in my mind.
That is it for today! Check back next Tuesday for more interesting reads!