16 March 2009

Weekly Geeks: Worst Movie Adaptations

Weekly Geeks

The recent release of Watchmen based on the graphic novel by Alan Moore got me thinking about what I thought were the worst movie adaptations of books. What book or books did a director or directors completely ruin in the adaptation(s) that you wish you could “unsee,” and why in your opinion, what made it or them so bad in contrast to the book or books?

I can’t think of any particularly bad cinema releases, probably because I don’t see many. So I’m going to follow Maree and mention a couple of tv versions of Agatha Christie novels - both Marples.

At least, both Marples in tv-land. She didn’t appear in either of the books. The Sittaford Mystery was atrocious enough - not only did they change the killer’s motive, they changed the killer. There was a bunch of other stuff that didn’t seem familiar, but it had been a while since I’d read the book so I can’t be sure. I have a copy in my TBR box but I want to wait until I’ve forgotten most of the tv version so I can remain in blissful ignorance of any further gratuitous alterations.

Unfortunately when I discovered that the ABC was about to screen an adaptation of Ordeal By Innocence, I had the bright idea of re-reading the book beforehand to refresh my memory. Never again. (Note to self: Blissful ignorance, remember?) The writers wrecked it utterly and I could identify every bit of damage.

First, of course, they put Miss Marple in where Miss Marple never appeared.

Then they invented another character, and a secondary crime, out of nowhere and for no apparent reason.

They changed the identity of the second victim. And they made the guy who should have been killed so obnoxious I was looking forward to his demise, and disappointed when he lived.

But far worse than all these, they destroyed the character of Arthur Calgary. In the book, he was a perfectly competent investigator who needed no help from little old ladies. In the adaptation, he was reduced to a stereotypical bumbling nerd, complete with stereotypical dorky glasses, as if by gaining a science degree one automatically cedes all dress sense and social skills. Being possessed of a science degree myself, this is guaranteed to drive me nuts. (Okay, I might not be much in the social skills department, but I do not stumble over my words when I speak and I am always well-dressed.)

Really, folks - if you don’t like the way it’s written, don’t bother adapting it!


BookWormz said...

so funny you talk about this - I just posted a blog about meeting the author, Jodi Picoult. She spoke at a signing, and one of the topics she covered was the recent adaptation of one of her novels for the movies. You can read about it on my blog at www.bookwormzreader.blogspot.com I loved her come-back line, which was "The book is always better than the movie" haha

Maree said...

I agree _ what's the point if you're going to make those kinds of changes? I haven't read The Sittaford Mystery, and I haven't read Ordeal by Innocence for many years, but remember a pretty good story that could have stood up on its own.
I only watched the first five minutes of one, but I noticed they put Miss Marple in By the Pricking of My Thumbs _ a Tommy and Tuppence mystery. Blergh.

Amat Libris said...

BookWormz: It is - there's always things which get left out.

Maree: I saw that one too, and didn't much like what had been done to it - or the character of Tuppence.

Dorte H said...

I have also seen one or two socalled Miss Marples, and I agree that if they don´t want to follow the book, they shouldn´t make the film. The least they could do was make up entirely new Marple mysteris, so Marple fans do not have these annoying TV experiences.

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