Tuesday, October 09, 2007

When is the Movie Ever Better?

I find the whole book versus the movie debate a little tiresome sometimes. When is the movie ever better than the book. I would say never. I do think though there are times when a movie is at least AS good as the book. Of course, the cases of movie so much worse than the book are infinite in my opinion.

Why this topic now. Last night, we watched Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire in celebration of Sam finishing the book and I am now reading Wicked, the novel the stage musical is based on. Even though I make every effort to not see movies based on books unless I get a chance to read them, I actually saw the stage musical Wicked last year (another notable exception to my rule is the Godfather trilogy). That being said, I still haven't seen the Lord of the Rings because I had to read the books (which I did last summer and much to my surprise I absolutely LOVED them). However, knowing who played the characters made it much easier to get through some of the more complex parts of the trilogy because I had a visual. Nor have I seen Mystic River because I haven't read the book and although I would like to see the movie, I know the book will completely depress me. Similarly I read Cider House Rules after John Irving won the Oscar for the screenplay. It peaked my curiosity and reignited my interest in his books. So this book versus movie thing can be a bit challenging.

Another example is Bridges of Madison County. I loved this short novel. It pushed all of my romantic buttons. I wasn't thrilled to hear of the project to make it into a movie although I had thought about who should play the leads. In my mind it was Robert Redford and Mary Steenburgen. Don't ask me why - those are just the faces I associated with the characters. I came around to Clint Eastwood but Meryl Streep didn't do it for me. I though the film was just okay.

I was actually looking forward to Interview with a Vampire as a movie - that is until they cast Tom Cruise as Lestat. I was livid as was every other Anne Rice fan and the author was none too pleased herself. For me, Rutger Hauer was a living breathing Lestat. The challenge was by the time Hollywood got around to making the movie, Hauer was too old. The casting in that movie missed a number of marks. Again it was just okay but man did they nail Claudia with the casting of a young Kirsten Dunst.

I could go on and on. One thing is for sure, you just cannot capture the depth of the narrative and all of the small things in a novel that contribute to the plot, when you take it to movie. The pure fact of time available on screen limits the creative ability. The Harry Potter movies are quite good but we have spent most of the time trying to quell Sam's indignation at the exclusion of certain parts of the book.

I expect I'll finish Wicked this week and I'll give you my thoughts on it then. Suffice it to say that the stage play was fun and entertaining and even though I am only half way through the novel, I can say with confidence that the stage version doesn't even come close to doing it justice.

Any pics and/or pans of screen adaptations of favourite novels?