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.