Can a movie be better than the book it was based on?

Written by: on Sunday, July 17th, 2011

The Daily Post asks: Can a movie be better than the book it was based on? What examples come to mind? Or is it sometimes just a matter of which version you see first, as that will define the story for you, regardless of which version was made first?

My answer:
It’s hard to answer this one. Try as I may, I rarely make it to the end of a book – unless I really really force myself to but usually I run out of steam by then. (*hides pile of books on side of desk* I am trying to make it through ‘Little Myth Marker’ by Robert Asprin at the moment.)

I guess I can toss Willy Wonka in there. No, not the steaming pile that Burton/Depp made. That was a total abomination. I’m talking about 1971 “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”. I loved the movie. It captured my imagination. Then at some point, I heard that the Oompa Loompa in the book were actually aborigines. I went on a hunt and got myself an older copy of the book. It was okay. it was all right. (I’ll ignore the peanut butter smears or whatever they were on the pages…)

But the problem with this is that I saw the movie first before I read the book. It’s the same with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. My favorite movie in the whole line-up will always be the first one. I saw the movie first to see what the big deal was and it convinced me to read the books. I will always think the first movie is better than the book.

Now, Lord of the Rings – when I heard that they were making this, I ended up getting the book. I was stunned at how huge and fat that book was. I sat down, did my best to read it, and then struggled through the constant descriptions of brambles and branches and on and on and on and on with every single step that the hobbits took. I quit the book before I could reach the tavern near the beginning.

Then I saw LOTR: Fellowship of the Ring. I thought, “Oh! Okay, so something DOES happen then.” I pulled out that big book and forced myself to read to the very… bitter… end. Tolkien’s writing is just so … boring. It’s so dry. It’s so detailed that you can’t help but start skimming the pages to get to something that happens.

Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and Return of the King – The movies are definitely better than the book but I WILL add that I am glad I read the book because some of my friends seemed confused on why certain things happened in the movies ‘out of the blue?’ so you really do have to read the book to get everything absorbed in your head.

Interview with the Vampire – Another one where I saw the movie before I read the book. I think there’s a bit of a bias here when I say that I prefer the movie. I kept recalling the actors as I read the book so I can’t really say.

I keep meaning to add Jurassic Park to the list to see if it’s more awesome than the movie. I still remember seeing it in theatres and it was mind-blowing at the time.


Leave a Reply