12 July 2007

Booking Through Thursday: Celluloid

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 This is a little tricky to answer, as my movie-watching is hopelessly out of date; I haven’t seen anything released in about the last two and a half years.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!

6 comments:

Stephanie said...

You are right....LOTR movies turned out very well. A huge undertaking, since the books have such a fan base! I thought Peter Jackson did a great job!

Mei said...

I saw that Sittaford too; I liked it, but then, I haven't read the book. I loved the movie Possession but was unable to finish the book.

Merri said...

EEK, Picnic at Hanging Rock was such a brilliant movie.
It was SO beautifully filmed and the costumes and sets were perfect. It also conveyed perfectly that rather creepy atmosphere that lurked behind the sweetness and beauty.THANKS for reminding me of this great film!
I did like it better than the book...

Rhinoa said...

I loved the LOTR films as well, they brought it to life just I had pictured it. It really helped that they used Alan Lee and John Howes pictures as inspiration (I love Alan Lee).

I am really looking forward to The Golden Compass when it comes out later this year, I love the book and am a bit worried that they will have mucked it up.

Marianne Arkins said...

Peter Jackson was a very ambitious man, taking on LOTR. He did a fabulous job.

The Harry Potter movies started out strong, but they just can't get all the good details and story lines into the movies anymore, as the books get bigger and bigger.

Books to movies is tough.

cj said...

I've gotta admit that I agree with you. Aragorn is delightful scenery as well as Legalos. They could clutter up my living room any time.

And I don't know why the films didn't come to mind. Probably because I've Harry Potter on the brain at the moment.

cjh

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Header image shows detail of A Young Girl Reading by Jean-Honoré Fragonard, c. 1776