In almost every ‘which is better, book or movie?’ debate, the book wins. For a plethora of reasons, from intense detail to unique character-building, books are almost always dubbed better than their adaptations.
But what about the film adaptations that are better than their original book?
Offer several examples of adaptations better than their original. Discuss what they do so correctly that allows them to win this battle.
Do they take away the difficult language of a book to make an important story more accessible? Are the characters better rounded and more realistic? Does the film cut out unnecessary details that are included in the book? Is there a changed detail that improves a film — different setting, different main character, different conclusion, perhaps. Is it simply a case of visuals portraying the content better than words can (say, an intense action sequence for example).
There could be ANY number of reasons and ANY number of films to be discussed.
This topic does run the risk of coming across as too subjective though, so ensure that sound analysis is offered to justify your claims.
I like this topic, but I would hesitate to characterize any movie or book as "better" than the other adaptation, because that's strictly a matter of opinion. What I would do instead is, focus on how books and films are completely different mediums, as well as how and why certain books lend themselves better to film adaptations. I might start with longer-form books, such as the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The books are great, but as someone who read them, I'd say they're also a slog. The movies definitely communicate the books' messages more clearly, and leave more room for discussion/exploration. – Stephanie M.2 weeks ago
I'm so glad you brought up this topic! I don't believe books are always automatically better than their film counterparts. Perhaps it is also a matter of upholding whatever came first. As you mention, there are many films which are based off of an initial written text. What about the case, though far less common, of films where a book was written in conjunction with or second to the film? For example, one of my favorite films is The Third Man. The screenplay was written by Graham Greene, who also developed a novella version. The book does a good job of illustrating certain details one might miss in the film, but the film is a masterpiece when it comes to "underplaying." It only says what it needs to, which makes it so memorable and striking. I also prefer the film adaptation of Breakfast at Tiffany's to Truman Capote's novella, despite the fact that the film departs quite a bit from the source material. One of the reasons is I found Audrey Hepburn's version of Holly Golightly far more vulnerable and sympathetic a character. Truman Capote lingered on the superficiality of his characters, which left me feeling uninterested by comparison. – aprosaicpintofpisces2 weeks ago
You managed to rehash a contentious issue among art lovers. As has been stated in prior posts, adaptations are analyzed ad infinitum. Yet in terms of this topic, I think you could argue slightly different, for a change of pace. All writing goes through drafting phases and all authors go through periods of productivity and delay or self-doubt. That said, how can we destroy a film adaptation that is merely going through a rough phase, on its merry way to the final version? Doesn't sound fair to the director. As far as adaptation goes, an author that is true to his craft and steadfast to the theme will inevitably produce the elusive masterpiece,followed by an equally acclaimed film adaptation, one may argue. Another incumbent will fumble the narrative by second-guessing the motive and the medium, failing to strike a vital chord with the audience in the process.Nevertheless, it's a valid concern. There is a documentary on The Virgin Suicides that makes the case for inclusion of the writer within the filming process. Of course, Sofia Coppola has the ultimate say over the characterization of the narrative. But the author of that novel, Jeffrey Eugenides, was a vital component behind the dialogue, the mood, and the setting. Also, it is not uncommon for the reverse to occur and achieve rather successfully. For instance, the Star Trek TV episode "All the Yesterdays" made a seamless foray into a series of acclaimed novel tie-ins by A.C. Crispin. The onscreen romance between Spock and Zarabeth translated into two compelling novels on time travel and a supposed offspring between the pair.A compelling factor in this debate is circumstances. The ancient Greeks wrote dramatic recollections of events that moved audiences of the time and to this day in practically every discipline that has emerged since then. But, in those times there were no motion pictures to reclaim those texts. Then, Shakespeare entered the picture with an equal fervor for shining light on the pressing matters of his day. Presently, we submit to the same appetite for literary escape with authors such as J.K. Rowling and Suzanne Collins, probably as eagerly as the Greeks and the British did in the early days of the art. In those times as is today, the stage was the medium for the written script. I venture to guess that audiences had their preferences for certain actors and theatres when reading the written play was not a viable option nor a preference. Perhaps, it may be that reading the plot in the comfort of a familiar setting with pleasant music or refreshment is the reason why some people opt for this method of entertainment. Indeed, the pace of a book or the flash of color and splash of sound in a film is what draws fans to each particular venue. So, an author's style or an actor's appeal may be the reasons why people turn to different sources of entertainment, including the online variety. I suppose radio producers had the same challenges in their respective field that could be incorporated into this topic. – L:Freire1 week ago
I feel like this topic has been discussed over and over again over the past year. I believe there may be an article about this topic on the site over the past year. – Sean Gadus1 week ago
I feel like we have almost moved past the "which is better?" question. Growing up it was always comparing the film to the source text, but as I become older I find myself comparing the media less often. I focus on if the adaptation did the source text justice, and if the changes that were made were justifiable. The film version of Gone Girl, for example, sticks to the novel pretty nicely, but with some detail changes that both enhance and take away from the book. While films like Annihilation and I'm Thinking of Ending Things are different visions from the source texts, and I respect them both for what they are. They almost become separate stories, but so long as the intent of the source text is respected, then I can happily enjoy the film versions. – Benedetto4 days ago
Besides HIV/AIDS, there has been no wide-reaching pandemic since the 1918 Spanish Influenza and, from a movie point of view at least, it’s pretty boring to live through. Despite what zombie movies might suggest, viruses are relatively slow moving and the deadlier a virus is, the less transmissible it tends to be. And the vast majority of people remain uninfected. It doesn’t make for great storytelling. However, up until now, the majority of people had no firsthand experience of living through an epidemic / pandemic and so could more easily suspend reality while watching these types of movies. But what happens now? Will the genre move away from the thriller type movie towards to personal suffering, either in lock down or the loss of loved ones?
I feel like there's a lot of potential here. For my part, I'm someone who thinks this particular virus has been blown way out of proportion, and that various unscrupulous actors are trying to use it to spread fear for their own gain. So, with that in mind, I think the idea of disease as a tool of social control would be a fascinating plot line that I hope someone tackles at some point. – Debs2 weeks ago
Debs: So I'm not crazy! Whew! I'm with you...but I am curious as to how COVID-19 will affect creative industries. For instance, I'm a fiction writer, and my fellow writers and I are getting tips like, "Don't come to agents/publishers with pandemic-centered material." It's too soon, apparently. But in a decade or two, who knows? I'd also like to see a comparison/contrast between COVID-19 and, say, the influenza epidemic of 1918. We still don't have much entertainment material about that...I wonder why? – Stephanie M.2 weeks ago
Stephanie M: I'm currently working on a research assignment regarding the influenza pandemic of 1918 (more pertinent to my research, it didn't reach Australia until 1919). From what I can understand, the pandemic arrived at the conclusion of the First World War and so, amongst that, it was forgotten. Many simply perceived it as the final, deadly battle of the war. That could potentially answer your question regarding why it isn't covered in entertainment media.
But that then raises the question, will today's pandemic be forgotten by the film industry amidst 2020's other significant events - bushfires in Australia, wildfires occurring currently in the U.S., mass protests in the U.S. and other Western countries, etc.? – Samantha Leersen1 week ago
I really like the questions at the end of you post: "But what happens now? Will the genre move away from the thriller type movie towards to personal suffering, either in lock down or the loss of loved ones?"If someone chooses to write on this topic, I hope that person will either avoid making blanket claims about pandemics or will take some time to understand the topic and to support all of the major claims with good sources. We already have all sorts of distortions and misinformation out there; we don't need to add to the pile.I'm really not sure about the truthfulness of this claim in your post, for example: "the deadlier a virus is, the less transmissible it tends to be." There are specific terms found in most any serious, informed discussion of a specific virus: virulence (deadliness), replication rate (or growth rate, which I understand to be ultimately tied to the ease of transmission, the length of the contagious stage, etc.), and so on. At least one credible source says there's no certain connection between a pathogen's deadliness and its potential to spread: "contrary to common assumptions, virulence and replication rates can evolve independently, particularly after the initial spread of host resistance." (https://www.pnas.org/content/116/34/16927)I'm also a little unsure about this claim: "Besides HIV/AIDS, there has been no wide-reaching pandemic since the 1918 Spanish Influenza." The 1957-1958 H2N2 pandemic probably caused some 1.1 million worldwide and some 116,000 deaths in the United States.– JamesBKelley1 week ago
All of these notes are so dismissive if the disease itself. The 20 and 30 somethings poo-poo the deaths of their grandparents and just not caring. Sounds to me a diseased based tale of Sodom and Gomorrah is what you guys need. How about that?200,000 dead and those not enough to raise even a glimmer of recognition of man’s humanity by the citizens of Sodom. God gets pissed and destroys the insensitive cretins. The special effects would be WILD .. imagine .. fire, hurricanes, people forced underground where it’s cool enough to survive. Now that would be something to see .. oh wait .. – beaublue6 days ago
With films such as Memento, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and Marjorie Prime exploring the concept of memory and how they seemingly define us. I’d like to suggest a further investigation into the use of memory in film as a narrative tool. How have writers/directors effectively used this device to engage viewers. Are there consistencies within the more successful examples? How could we look to utilise memory as a concept in future films, or even other forms of media.
Does ‘Rememory’ fit into your vision of an investigation into the use of memory in film as a narrative tool? It’s a murder mystery, right? Seems to be right in the wheelhouse. – beaublue6 days ago
Discover how various films handle disabilities and understand why most main characters do not have a disability while side characters do. Examine the exceptions, good and bad.
Examples: Forest Gump, How to Train your Dragon etc.
Interesting topic! The French movie “The Intouchables” / “Untouchable” may be another example, as it tackles the relationship between two very different men, one of the differences between them being the fact that one is quadriplegic, while is other is able-bodied. – Gavroche6 months ago
Might want to look at General Amaya from The Dragon Prince. She is Deaf and communicates through sign language within the cartoon. Awesome side character. – Sean Gadus6 months ago
Some more suggestions:
The Secret Garden (there are many versions, and you could talk about the unfortunate implication that Colin's disability is "fake," as well as how disability plays into his emotional stunting/healing)
Rain Man (so problematic I can't stand it, but worth analysis)
Heidi (unfortunate implication that disability can or should be cured/analysis and implications of Klara's self-determination or lack thereof)
Plus the almost complete lack of non-white, female, non-straight, or otherwise minority characters with disabilities in film – Stephanie M.1 month ago
This is a topic that could apply to either movies or television. Disclaimers range in purpose. Sometimes they exist in order to lessen chances of physical discomfort in the audience (and thus potential lawsuits), as with seizure warnings for flashing lights (i.e. a scene in Incredibles 2) or motion sickness warnings with 3D or IMAX films. Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ was flagged for its graphic depiction of Jesus’s crucifixion. However, disclaimers have extended their reach beyond the physical realm into the psychological.
For instance, the ratings system that differentiates between what is appropriate for certain age groups can sometimes be misleading. Often in preface to cast and crew interviews, there is a text that states “the views and opinions expressed are those of the individual and do not represent those of [insert company name here].” When the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why first premiered, there was controversy it would romanticize and therefore increase the likelihood of suicide in tweens and teens. When Joker was released, there was a fear that burgeoning mass shooters would be emboldened by the film’s protagonist into taking the law into their own hands. Stanley Kubrick’s film adaptation of A Clockwork Orange was banned because of its depictions of hedonistic violence.
Just recently, the classic Gone with the Wind was briefly removed from HBO Max and then reinstated with disclaimers for fear of its depictions of the antebellum South. Disclaimers step in as “gatekeepers” of sorts, where films or T.V. shows must pass a certain purity “litmus test” to gauge not only their potential offensiveness to audiences but their ability to corrupt their audience’s minds. In what ways does this “moral panic” manifest itself in the form of media disclaimers? The threat of exploring or even simply acknowledging so-called “dangerous ideas” is oft-treaded territory, such as with George Orwell’s notions of ”groupthink.” How does the struggle to protect an unsuspecting audience devolve into a form of thought control? In what ways have such disclaimers proved beneficial?
So would some of these cases (like 13 Reasons Why) deal directly with the idea of having trigger warnings?
Also, I feel that the controversy surrounding Joker was completely overblown. Much of the controversy/discourse occurred before the film had even been released, where many were reacting to trailers, rumors, and pre-release descriptions. Once the film was released, I think the reality of what the film was about/what content was in the film, it was vastly less controversial than what many reported it to be. – Sean Gadus2 months ago
That's such a great point, Sean! Thank you. Yes, I think people often jump to hasty conclusions when it comes to trailers or pre-release speculations, which can be quite misleading by nature. Trailers and press rumors are designed to build hype in advertising, alert audiences to genre specifics, and entice audiences with just enough information to get them interested. The final film released in its entirety can often be a bit different from how its originally portrayed. – aprosaicpintofpisces2 months ago
Oooooh, juicy topic indeed! There's a lot you could get into here. Just the question of what's offensive and what isn't, and the dangers of groupthink, could net you a whole article alone. But there are so many other factors. For instance, you could talk about disclaimers meant to protect people with epilepsy and similar conditions, vs. ableism and people who claim the disclaimers ruin the 3-D experience (jerks). You could discuss the fact that Christians will willingly watch Christ brutally flogged, or watch a war movie because "that's how it was," but still frown on violence in other genre films (oh, what I could say...) – Stephanie M.2 months ago
I agree, Stephanie. The whole notion of "trigger warnings" and what is considered offensive is quite prevalent now. Even more recently, HBO Max has flagged Mel Brooks's Blazing Saddles just as it did with Gone with the Wind, despite the fact that Blazing Saddles is considered an overtly satirical comedy. – aprosaicpintofpisces1 month ago
Is it significantly harder for disabled actors to gain roles in films or television shows? How many disabled characters in film/TV are portrayed by disabled actors, and is their portrayal realistic/accurate? What do disabled people in the screen industry think needs to be done to improve disability representation/equality in the screen industry?
There was a disabled actor named Quentin Kenihan who grew up in the city I currently live in, who was a local celebrity for his role in 2015's Mad Max Fury Road. Quentin had the bone disease osteogenesis imperfecta but often spoke on how he did not let it hold him back. He said in an interview that he is 'the only disabled person in an academy award-winning film'. I have linked a youtube video from Casey Neistat where he interviews Quentin about his acting career. Hopefully, this helps you. I found that Quentin's experience opened my eyes to how challenging it must be for people with disabilities to make it in the film industry.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g3s0--LcgQw – EdwardMcCarroll2 months ago
HOLY GUACAMOLE, THANK YOU FOR POSTING THIS TOPIC! Less than 10% of disabled characters are portrayed by disabled actors, and don't get me started on accurate portrayals. Someone needs to write this, and we have GOT to talk about it more, through writing and otherwise. – Stephanie M.1 month ago
As someone who is on the autism spectrum, I’ve become aware of the fact that shows within the last decade have featured characters with autism played by non-autistic actors (The Good Doctor, Parenthood). I find it a little insulting that studios don’t cast people who actually have autism (part of the ongoing stigma). But the Freeform series Everything’s Gonna Be Okay gives me hope for actual representation. There’s a girl with autism, Matilda, who’s played by an actress who actually has autism, Kayla Cromer. So far it’s the most accurate depiction of ASD I’ve seen on any medium. – Tanner Ollo1 month ago
I feel that based on what I have seen, it's not too much difficult for disabled people to get acting jobs. I feel that when it comes to hiring aspiring actors, it has to do with what they bring, so even if someone is disabled, they could still not be great actors. Still, I think this in an important topic to discuss. – Diani3 days ago
While the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is an ongoing, expanding film series, the original characters from Phase I remained key characters throughout the past ten years of film. In Avengers: Endgame, some of the major original characters completed their narrative arcs including Iron Man and Captain America. With the departure of Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark and Chris Evan’s Steve Rogers, the MCU will need other characters to play a larger role in the overall narrative. Which new or existing characters will serve as the narrative focus for future phases of Marvel films? This article could discuss potential candidates for new corner stones of the MCU, as well as which characters have the most pressing character arcs that need to be resolved.
This is a really interesting topic to discuss considering the fact that Phase II is still nascent. With MCU being the biggest money churning franchise in history, an exploration of the possible future direction the universe may take and how it copes with audience fatigue while managing to still keep things fresh and interesting would make for an intriguing read. – Dr. Vishnu Unnithan4 months ago
I am an enormous fan of this topic, as it is something I wonder and have many thoughts on. There are so many different ways to go, but I think there are some characters that were given just enough potential to represent the MCU. – Abie Dee4 months ago
Far From Home sought to tease that Spiderman might fill that void - in that he was Iron Man's protege - but I think it will depend largely on how some of the new entries into the universe perform. Let's not forget that Steve Rogers grew into his lead. His first stand-alone movie was not that well received and in comparison to Iron Man he was pretty boring. Iron Man's strength came from RDJ's personality and acting. I think the next face will need to be along the same lines - a compelling character with a really strong actor behind it. – MidnightSunrise1 month ago
The Shining is a masterpiece horror, but Shelley Duvall, who plays Wendy Torrance had to go through a lot of stress while filming the climactic scene where Jack is attempting to hit her with a baseball bat as she ascends the stairs of the Overlook Hotel. To capture the character’s distress and fear, director Stanley Kubrick retook the scene multiple times, and made the actress feel distressed and isolated on set. Although this lead to capturing a powerful scene, where do we draw the line in our quest for making a masterpiece?
An interesting idea that's worth exploring. A lot of the old classic movies have harsh treatments of their stars, especially the female actors, behind the scenes that would be completely inappropriate and condemned if it were to happen now. – kerrybaps4 months ago
I agree with kerrybaps. Certainly worth exploring, especially as many people have no idea that such treatment is still happening. There are certain directors who attain an almost god-like status and sometimes that power can go to their heads. Although I've never been repeated threatened with a baseball bat on set, I did work as an extra on one particular film during which we 'underlings' we left exposed to the elements for so long that three of us were eventually removed from set, suffering from early stages of hypothermia - and all because a certain director needed us to look exhausted, ragged and frozen. Unfortunately, in the film world even actresses of the same calibre as Shelley Duvall are all too aware that they can be replaced, and so feel pressurised into accepting such treatment. It's a dirty world. – Amyus4 months ago
This feels like a nitpick but was it not Wendy who wielded the baseball bat in that scene? It also wasn't just that one scene either. Shelly Duvall was isloated throughout the entirety of the shoot in Kubric's effort to get her portrayal of a beaten-down, broken woman. The cast was informed to not interact with her and she was also kept from sleeping so that she would be sleep deprived. This extends well beyond the stairwell scene where Jack Torrence tells her he wants to bash her brains in and this topic should be explored in regards to the whole film and Kubrics methods.
l I might consider exploring beyond just The Shining. Alfred Hitchcock was a monstrous creep towards his female cast members as well. Perhaps this topic could evolve into a discussion about the mistreatment of women in the film industry as a whole. – FarPlanet4 months ago
This is an interesting idea. Are there are other actresses, besides Duvall, where something like this has been done? Has it been done to actors or only actresses? – Joseph Cernik2 months ago