Friday, 14 January 2011

Can a film ever be as good as the original book?

Many people believe (as do I more often than not!) that when a book is turned into a film it is done so badly. The characters are lost, the complex plots trivialised, favourite parts are removed due to time constraints and the imagery you had when reading the book just doesn't translate onto the big screen.  The Harry Potters, for example (though I still watch them all!) have nothing on the books, have removed fights that lasted for chapters, important plot points and changed endings. When people claimed that making the 7th book into 2 films was simply a marketing ploy, I breathed a sigh of relief and was pleasantly surprised to see the film do the first half of the book justice (See review)

Other flops include Memoirs of a Geisha (probably because the book was so popular to begin with!) and the disastrous My Sister's Keeper. The film version of the fantastic Jodi Picoult book got so many complaints from her fans that she had to put a link to the producers website on her own site to say that she did not authorise the ending change (they kill the wrong person!) and if you wanted to make a complaint it should be with them not her.

However, there are a few exceptions that I can think of - though the film never surpasses the book it is on a par with it by staying true to the original.


  • The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (though the end is changed slightly, the point of the book is not lost and the end works well in the film version).
  • To Kill a Mockingbird (both phenomenal!)
  • Battle Royale (both versions are in my top 10!). Highly recommend!!!
  • Shawshank Redemption (the book was short so perhaps this explains why they were able to pull it off).
  • The Godfather (haven't actually read this but my sis has and she said it was just as good as the film).
So what do you think? Can a film ever really do a book justice or should some books just be left well alone?

LE xxx


  1. Posted by Embob:
    "‘The Shining’ is fab!! and one of my favourite horror films!- being tense, incredibly exciting and chilling… I remember reading a review that Stephen King hated it- and I didn’t understand why??!!!! But on reading the book years later- could see why- as with most films- the characters are lost- with no in-depth of their personalities/ histories etc… but reading the book of the shining- feeling so much more sympathy for the dad- unlike the film- where you couldn’t really care less if Jack gets what is coming to him in the end! …. I cried reading the end of the book!!!! :p having said that- I still love the film! I just look at it as two different stories now."

  2. not always. One of the strongest failures of book to movie for me is The Horse Whisperer. I loved the book, but the movie failed to shine.

  3. I agree with Godfather and To Kill a mocking bird. Also, LOTR Trilogy is a very good example. But otherwise, Books are so much better.