Friday, 4 March 2011

Book or Movie???

(Denzel Washington and whatsisname in Cry Freedom)

For me the book will always win in a competition against the movie.  The total immersion of the book – getting right inside the characters’ mind makes the book a winner for me every time.

There are occasions, however when it is a close run thing.

Here’s my top ten... in no particular order, cos I can’t be arsed putting them in any particular order...

Shawshank Redemption – Morgan Freeman and that other guy give great performances in the famous jail drama.

Cry Freedom – first time I remember seeing Denzel Washington in a movie. Impressive South African accent, DenZEL. The movie was based on the books Biko and Asking For Trouble by journalist, Donald Woods which highlighted the plight of Steve Biko, the anti-apartheid activist. Directed by Richard Attenborough.  Important piece of film-making from Dickie.

Schindler’s List – Ralph Fiennes was utterly convincing in this. Think if I’d seen him in the street afterwards I’ve have been on the phone to the Nazi hunters.

No Country for Old Men – loved the book, loved the movie. Watched the movie first. Perhaps that’s where the trick in this book versus movie thing lies. If I read the book first, the movie is usually a letdown.

Lord of the Rings – see above and this is the exception ‘cos I read the book sooooooo long ago, as a teenager. And Peter Jackson did an awesome job.

Trainspotting – gave the world smiley-fella, Ewan MacGregor.

The Silence of the Lambs – and the serial killer franchise really took off. Harris has a lot to answer for.Think I preferred the book, Red Dragon.

L.A. Confidential – a classic. ‘Nuff said.

The Diving Bell and The Butterfly – this is one where the movie actually enhanced the book. Yes, it can happen. If you don’t know the story, the author of this book was hit by an illness. All he could move was his eyelid. He worked out a sort of morse code and narrated this book by blinking to a friend. A reminder of how resilient and inspirational people can be when struck by tragedy. You've got to read/ see this.

Oh... and then there’s The Godfather, The Shining, The Green Mile, (maybe Stephen King should have his own list) The Prince of Tides, The Bourne  Series, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, In Cold Blood, Papillon, To Kill a Mockingbird, Winter's Bone ... awfurfecksake why did I start this?

Any faves of yours missing from here? Or are there any books you’d like to see being given the Hollywood treatment?


  1. Shawshank is beyond doubt THEE CLASSIC.
    2) Jean de Florette (part I) and Manon des Sources (part II).
    3)Sarafina (shows apartheid for what it is)
    4)The Life Of Brian
    5)The Wizzard Of Oz & Psycho (yeah I know, I have "issues")
    6)It's A Wonderful Life (awwwwww)
    7)Sea Of Love (Pacino was magic)
    8)Silence Of The Lambs (It puts the lotion in the basket ARGHHhhhhh)
    9)The Dark Knight (Heath Ledger really scared me)
    10)Der Untergang (The Downfall)You actually believe Bruno Ganz is Hitler.

    Thur in nae purtiklur oardur!
    Pus one or two o your wans.

  2. Agree with many of those, Michael. One of the best films I saw that vastly outshone the book was The English Patient. Saw the film a few times (with different people). Then I read the book - what a let down. But it made me realise what a brilliant director Anthony Minghella was.

  3. Guid list, Numptyheid, Makes me want tae hit the video shoap.

    Rosemary, kinda agree with you here. But in my view the movie had a different focus from the book. The book was more about the relationship with the nurse and the Indian guy - while the movie was much more about the burn victim and his wummin. So for me Minghella sold out: taking the easier, more palatable choice. And while I was enjoying the movie that change of perspective was a source of irritation. If I had watched the movie first it wouldn't have bothered me a jot.

  4. Ne'er the twain shall meet as far as I'm concerned. I love books, I like movies but, while they may tell the same stories, they do different things with them. I HATE it when any favourites (Madame Bovary, Pride and Prejudice), are made into movies because what they leave out makes me angry and the movie does a disservice to the book, distorts it, cheapens it. That's in my humble, ranting opinion, anyway.

    On the other hand, the stage adaptation of The Woman in Black is far better than Susan Hill's book.

  5. Glad I gave you a chance to get that off your chest, Bill

  6. Book every time Michael. I have trouble reading a book if I've already seen the movie, I keep picturing the actors !!

  7. And it's worse when you have a strong mental picture of what the characters look like and the actor is nothing like them.

  8. one movie i have loved loved loved even though almost no one else agrees with me about is steven speilberg's AI(artifical intelligence) of the most amazing stories. it's based on a short story by.. (i forget) i've watched the movie several times. another movie is Forest Gump. love that one, too. Now, Gone With The Wind was a much better book than movie, and the movie was great. I agree with Bill about Pride & Prejudice although I do still love Lawrence Olivier's Darcy. And I love the film version of Emma with Gwenyth Paltrow. sorry, i just do, Bill.

  9. LORD OF THE RINGS was definitely the best book adaptation ever. It totally brought the epic magic of the book onto the film screen.
    I also thought that DUNE was much better on film although I loved the books too! 300 also was a stunning film adaptation of a graphic novel. GONE WITH THE WIND was much much better as a film than as a book (We wouldn't even hear about the book if it wasn't for the film version)...

  10. dez, disagree with your GWTW statement - the book was a huge success before the movie came out. of course, this was in the 1930s. the book made MM a very rich woman. that is not to take away from the movie which is wonderful. but you only have to read the first couple of pages to see what a great piece of writing it is. everything that happens on those first couple pages reflect the rest of the book.

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