1. In your opinion, what is the best translation of a book to a movie?
2. The worst?
3. Had you read the book before seeing the movie, and did that make a difference?
1. This is a little tricky to answer, as my movie-watching is hopelessly out of date; I haven’t seen anything released in about the last two and a half years. But before that time: Harry Potter is always fun. The Lord of the Rings films are great; they finally induced me to read the books and they have some great-looking ... scenery. There’s Picnic at Hanging Rock, Bridget Jones’s Diary, Snow Falling on Cedars, probably several more that I’m overlooking, and any mini-series made under the aegis of the BBC.
2. A few months ago I saw an adaptation of Agatha Christie’s The Sittaford Mystery, where the entire ending was changed, including the motive and the identity of the killer - an unforgivable crime against literature. The Haunting of Hill House was barely recognisable. And I could perhaps toss Troy onto the list for the sheer awfulness of Brad Pitt.
3. That depends on the quality of the movie. If it’s a really good adaptation it probably doesn’t matter if you’ve read the book first. But a less faithful translation, and I prefer to read the book after. Seeing any book, especially a favourite, butchered on screen is never fun; but somehow reading the book after and seeing the changes in hindsight is easier. This can make me wary of adaptations; for instance, I’m set against ever watching the film version of Possession because I’m convinced it could never measure up to the book. What I like best is to see a really good adaptation of a book I’ve never read, one that will prompt me to go enthusiastically in search of the book/s in question. Although that does often leave me mentally kicking myself for not having read the author in question sooner!