Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Books Becoming Movies

So many times, too many times to count, filmmakers ruin books. They think they know the essence of the novel but instead, they merely take a few scenes and put them up on the screen. Part of the problem lies in the fact that films and books are completely different animals. Books are all about internal stuff (many times) while films are completely external (most times). It’s very difficult to take the inner monologue of a narrator, complete with flashbacks and flash forwards and weird dreams and so on and make that visual without it looking like an avant-garde French film.

No offense to the French filmmakers, e.g. Francois Truffaut and Michel Gondry.

In rare instances, books have been successfully turned into movies. I think this happens when the writer is directly involved in the translation for the screen and/or the filmmaker really “gets” the material and knows what will work well and what won’t. Sometimes a novel simply has too much material and needs to be pared away; inevitably this disappoints the book’s fans who were waiting for certain scenes to be brought to life.

Here are my top ten books-to-movies and you are welcome to disagree with me or suggest other titles:

1. Lord of the Rings trilogy
2. Harry Potter books
3. Flowers for Algernon (Charly)
4. The Shining (Stanley Kubrick-directed version)
5. To Kill a Mockingbird
6. The Godfather
7. Misery
8. Shoeless Joe Jackson Comes to Iowa (Field of Dreams)
9. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (Blade Runner)
10. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Should there be a companion list to this - a top ten worst books-to-films?

Your Hollywood connection,