Sunday, October 13, 2013

Paper before celluloid

If there's another thing that I love besides books, it would have to be movies. I can sit my big fat ass in front of the TV and just watch one movie after the other. TV shows are great too, especially "American Horror Story" and "Downton Abbey." But TV shows are barely seldom based on books. Which gets me to the topic of this post—movies based on books.

I know, I know—one should not compare movies based on books. They use, after all, completely different media to convey their message. Books fuel the imagination. Movies do that too. But after having seen "Transformers" (all 3 movies), I think that some film directors just want to mess up with our minds.

Getting out of a "Transformers" movie, or any of those big-budgeted summer films for that matter, feels like getting assaulted. One just wants to retreat to a quiet corner and purge out the harrowing experience by reading Henry James. Or Edith Wharton. Or E. M. Forster. Or any classical novelist where all the characters do is just think and don't talk about what needs to be said. Silence, tea, and things left unsaid—bliss.

Right now, I'm thinking of books that have been adapted to movies and how I really feel about them. There's "The Woman in Black" starring Daniel Radcliffe. Movie was scary, but really not at all as creepy as the book. The novel by Susan Hill was so thick with atmosphere that you can cut it with a knife. The movie just showed that Radcliffe can do a non-Harry Potter role.

Movies based on Stephen King's novels are a hit and miss. Kubrick's "The Shining" was phenomenal, but it did veer away significantly from the novel. In the novel, The Overlook Hotel was almost character, a living evil entity. The movie just made it a setting. I've seen 2 adaptations of Carrie, and none still has the intensity of the novel. But, Sissy Spacek—she looks really terrifying covered in pig's blood. And that's the only thing great about the movie.

However, I do recall two big screen adaptations that I liked. "The Heart of the Matter" with Ralph Fiennes, Julianne Moore, and Stephen Rea was beautiful. The film did capture the essence of Graham Greene's novel, which had something to do with God and His intervening ways. Another is "Atonement," which is based on Ian McEwan's Booker-shortlisted novel of the same title. Hmmm. . . I seem to like dramas set in WWII. Whatever.

Other than those two, I think that movies based on books seldom do justice to the original material at all. The Golden Compass movie was absolute crap. Not one of the Narnia movies is as entertaining as the books. The movie "Where the Wild Things Are" just felt too weird. De Bernieres's humor in his novel Captain Corelli's Mandolin was lost in the movie.

When I found out that they're turning Markus Zusak's novel, The Book Thief, into a movie and that it's soon to be shown this year, I decide to go on the offensive and just finally read this doorstop. I've been putting it off for far too long, it seems. I love Zusak. His I Am the Messenger is one of my favorite YA novels. Thus, reading The Book Thief comes with expectations. My only wish? That the movie ain't gonna be crappy.


Kaz said...

The Book Thief is wonderful - and I'm with you on hoping they do it justice with the movie. The other film I need to check out is Lore, based on The Dark Room (memory blank on the author...). It's on our downloadable movie list, so I thought I'd get it and check it out while DB's away - not his kind of film. If you've not read The Dark Room, see what you think of it...

Monique said...

I heard it said somewhere that Stephen King did not really "approve" of the Stanley Kubrick adaptation of "The Shining." I think it has something to do with the fact that the lead female character was inaccurately portrayed in the movie (I honestly do not know who this is, as I have neither read the book or seen the movie), as she wasn't the unthinking, airhead type that Kubrick made her out to be. Apparently, King had no say in the movie production, for one reason or another.

Peter S. said...

Hi, Kaz! I will definitely read The Dark Room! Thanks for the reco!

Hello, Monique. King abhorred the Kubrick adaptation. He had no good things to say about it. But you know what, I'm a little vague on the details regarding the movie. I will re-watch!

Louize Gonzales said...

I totally agree with you on the "Woman in Black." Again, of course, because the movie wasn't entirely true with the book. And I thought that Daniel was too young for the role; I can't seem to separate him from the "boy who lived."

Woot! You are reading The Book Thief already. I hope you do enjoy it too. Although I loved "I am the Messenger" too, this one will be quite on a different level.

Happy reading, Peter. Let's hope the movie will not be a let down. ♥

Peter S. said...

Thanks, Louize! Here's hoping!

Lynai said...

Hi Peter!

I looove The Book Thief! But I didn't know there will be a movie of it. Haha! As to The Woman in White, I mildly liked the movie, considering that it made me want to read the book. And this reminds me to read the book soon. :D

Going back to Zusak, I loved The Messenger too! I read it way before I was blogging, so I think it demands a re-read because I felt that I've grown as a reader now. Maybe I'll be able to appreciate all the more this time. :)

Peter S. said...

Hi, Lynai! Actually, if I hadn't liked the book The Woman in Black so much, I think I would've enjoyed the movie more. Woot woot for I Am the Messenger!

ram said...

american horror story,check
the woman in black,check
stephen king novel, i love the MISERY

Peter S. said...

American Horror Story! Now that's one fine piece of storytelling right there!

kyemeruth said...

I love the Women in Black Movie! Maybe because I haven't read the book yet. In terms of adaptations, I am also quite picky. For instance, even if I love the HP series so much, I felt only Azkaban remained faithful to the book's feels and all. Maybe we're expecting too much? Haha!

Peter S. said...

The Prisoner of Azkaban is still my favorite HP novel and movie!