Hi all as we were talking about this in another thread thought I'd start a separate one for it. What do you think are the best and worst film adaptations of books, pony and non-pony. Also are there any books which you think would make great films?
Some of my personal fav film adaptations are The Shawshank Redemption which is actually based on a short story by Stephen King, not a novel. It is a brilliant film which is at least as good as the story which is saying something! I thought the Peter Jackson Lord of the Rings was also fab. It couldnt quite live up to the books but made a pretty good attempt and Aragorn and Gandalf were just right. As I said in the other thread my fav Jane Austen adaptations are the Emma Thompson Sense and Sensibility and also the version of Persuasion with Amanda Root and Ciaran Hinds, which I think was a BBC one?
Off the top of my head I think the worst film version of a classic novel was the film version of Frank Herbert's Dune which was absolutely laughable. I hear they are thinking of making another version of it soon, hopefully that may be better. Mind you there are so many poor film versions of books so I will have to put my thinking cap on to come up with the very worst ones!
There seem to be more and more adaptations these days, Hollywood writers have just run out of original ideas (Coen Bros excepted as usual).
I saw the latest screen version of Pride & Prejudice recently (with Keira Knightley, who was ok) and thought it was really poor. I know it can't be properly compared to the 1995 BBC series, as that was in 6 one hour episodes, but where the dialogue deviated from the book it was just really jarring and bad.
Personal favourites of mine would be Blade Runner, Trainspotting, The Godfather (much classier than the novel), Apocalypse Now (a loose, unacknowledged adaptation of Heart of Darkness), Breakfast at Tiffany's (novel is much darker in tone), A Clockwork Orange (the novel is well worth it if you're interested in the Russian language, it's quite unique), The English Patient, LA Confidential, Rebecca, the big epics like Dr Zhivago and Gone With The Wind and more recently Brokeback Mountain and The Road.
Ones that didn't quite work for me would be 1984, Catch 22, The Talented Mr Ripley, Sin City and both versions of Lolita. I really wasn't tempted by I Am Legend (heard they changed the ending, wtf!) and Watchmen recently as I thought they would probably annoy me.
On kids books, I think Roald Dahl is quite hard to get right. Although his characters are so colourful they translate well to the big screen, you miss the dry wit of his writing. The Witches is probably the best one I can think of. So much depends on the child actor being decent; they are invariably wooden. The lad in Finding Neverland is a notable modern exception. There was a nice TV adaptation of Ballet Shoes on a couple of Christmases back with Emma Watson and Victoria Wood that was pitched just right.
Last Edit: Feb 19, 2010 15:50:44 GMT 1 by foxglove
I liked both the book and the 1970 film of The Railway Children.
Not quite a film but having read all the Flambards books and thoroughly enjoyed them I decided to buy the DVDs. I thought the series was really good apart from the episodes which dealt with The Edge of the Cloud. I found those boring. I've no idea why as I really liked the book.
I saw the latest screen version of Pride & Prejudice recently (with Keira Knightley, who was ok) and thought it was really poor.
I didnt bother watching the Pride and Prejudice with Keira in it. There have been so many versions of it I got sick of them. Its strange that there are thousands of brilliant books out there but just a handful get made over and over again. You'd think film/tv makers would show just a little bit of imagination.
Yes I recall that Ballet Shoes, it was pretty good. Also I agree to the Railway Children, what a classic! Oh and one film that in my opinion was better than the book was the Wizard of Oz with Judy Garland.
BTW have changed the title of thread to include TV as well as film
foxglove, I've always thought that Breakfast at Tiffany's and LA Confidential were the very rare examples of a movie that was better than the book. Breakfast at Tiffany's (book) to me wasn't just dark, it seemed unfinished....as though the ending was dashed off five minutes before it was due at the publisher! LA Confidential's plot (book) was so convoluted that at the end, when All Was Revealed, I was still thinking "huh?". The screenplay adaptation won an Oscar...the writers should have got a medal for bravery just for tackling it!
Pygmalion with Wendy Hiller (hey, Shaw himself wrote the screen adaptation and Hiller was the original Eliza on the stage...can you get more authentic than that?)
You've already got Jane Austen well covered, so I'll add some Shakespeare:
Much Ado About Nothing....the Kenneth Brannagh/Emma Thompson version
Twelfth Night....Imogene Stubbs
On the pony book front, Misty, from Marguerite Henry's Misty of Chincoteague, was very good....it kept to the story, filmed on location, used locals as extras and fealt very authentic
The Horse in the Gray Flannel Suit, from Eric Hatch's Year of the Horse, had some Disney sillyness in it, but was worth watching anyway....the only film I've ever seen where they didn't have what looked like a children's pony hunter course that we were supposed to imagine was an international class jump off....they used the real Washington International Horse Show for the finale, and the jumps really WERE 6 feet high!
The book is fun too, by the way, both the hardcover titled Year of the Horse and the movie tie-in paperback titled The Horse in the Gray Flannel Suit have exactly the same text....no horses wear clothing of any kind, the "gray flannel" refers to the horse being used as a corporate advertising icon, as advertising men were often called "the men in gray flannel suits"....Hatch must have been looking into a crystal ball when he wrote the book....then using a showjumper to promote a company image was funny, now it's the norm!
I'm glad to hear that the Emma Watson version of Ballet Shoes is good...it's out on dvd in the US, so I'll have to track down a copy soon.
On the ballet movie topic....has anyone here seen The Red Shoes, starring Moira Shearer, adapted from the Hans Christian Andersen short story, screenplay by Emeric Pressburger? Probably the most famous film I haven't seen...I keep wondering if the ending is as completely gutting as the fairy tale..
Some of my favourite films adapted from books are Charlotte's Web (cartoon version not the recent one), two more STephen King adaptations The Green Mile and Stand By Me and The Silence of the Lambs which could be even better than the book. I like the Audrey Hepburn version of Pygmalion, My Fair Lady the best. Posibly the worst adaptation of a classic book: The Bonfire of the Vanities! Susanb I have seen The Red Shoes but I can't recall what happens in the end. I do remember it was a depressing film so I assume the ending was not happy!
Yep the ending of the Red Shoes is not exactly a laugh a minute! Odd film, very atmospheric tho and of course amazing ballet sequences.
I agree with quite a few of the above films. I have never actually read Breakfast at Tiffany's tho love the film, especially the bit at the end with cat, always brings a lump to the old throat! (mainly for the re-union with cat than with the man I must admit lol)
A couple more I can think of which were better than the book include Master and Commander with Russell Crowe. I enjoyed the film but I have never been able to read any of Patrick O'Brian's books. IMHO he is perhaps the worst best selling writer out there. He's certainly never heard of a a full stop. Some of his sentences are about 30 lines long! Pity cos I love historical novels and would have liked to read them.
Another horsy one is Moon Stallion this was a 1970s TV series which was pretty good but the book was dull.
Two good adaptations of classics are the black and white version of Rebecca with Joan Fontaine. Mrs Danvers was truly scary (worst version of Rebecca was the one with Charles Dance in it....really terrible) and also the black and white version of Jane Eyre, again with Joan Fontaine (she always seemed to play the 'plain' characters but she was still pretty glamourous!) Any version of Wuthering Heights would be better than the book which I have to admit to hating (and me an English lit graduate tut tut!) Prob again the black and white version is the best. Yep I like the old black and white films
A really bad adaptation was a recent TV version of The Wizard of Earthsea which turned Ursula le Guin's classic fantasy into a sort of Harry Potter wannabe!
Oh been meaning to ask has anyone read the book Eragon. Movie was dull as ditchwater, but I know the books are best sellers - so are they any better?
I have recently bought two VHS. Both were a TV series of a Children's books. I would have bought the DVD, but they are not currently available on DVD, which is a shame. It is also the first time in 2 years I have used the video player (I dont own a DVD recorder or one of those freeview/freesat recorders), though.
The first was The Castle of Adventure, based on the book by Enid Blyton. I do remember seeing it (though I could not remember tons since I was only 9 at the time) when it was shown in 1990, but sadly, I never had it as kid. My own copy of the Castle of Adventure (book) is the TV tie-in version. It was borrowed several times from a friend of my brothers, but of course with the fact that you borrow stuff, you have to give it back
It is quite long, 2 hours in fact. The original TV series was spilt into 6 parts but the video has it all edited together. It stars Susan George, Brian Blessed and Gareth Hunt. As typical of Brian Blessed, his character Sam, is quite big and booming (anyone who has seen Brian Blessed in action will know what I mean!). Gareth Hunt did his part brilliantly, the only weak ones (adult wise) were Susan George and an actress called Corrine Ransome, who played Rose (Tassie's mum in the books/series). The children also did a good job especially Tassie (Eileen Hawkes). It is sad though, that with the exception of Dinah (played by Rosie Marcel, who is currently Jac Naylor in Holby City) have taken up acting in a big way (the rest, bar Hugo Guthrie who played Jack and Eileen Hawkes have had some parts since then, but nothing very recently).
They have mostly stuck to the book with this adaptation: though there were some modern (for the time!) alterations. The original book was written in 1946, instead the children are wearing 1990s clothes. The cars are also brand new, and in one shot the children are playing with a games console! But despite that they have put that in so that it does not detract. One thing that they have changed is that in the book Tassie brings Jack a fox cub, and that he names him Button, but in the series the fox already belongs to Tassie, and she named him Button. Also in the series,Tassie lives in a caravan rather than a tumble down cottage.
One thing I noticed is that Kiki keeps on changing sex: in the first time it is referred to it is a "he" but later it is a she!
A good one: I enjoyed it though rather long! Better if they released in it's original format. Sadly, it will never get on DVD.
The more recent addition is Tom's Midnight Garden, which is a BBC production (made in 1988; though shown in 1989) at great expense, considering that VHS are out of fashion. But apparently it is the going rate and until the BBC release it on DVD it was the only way to see it.
Anyway considering that I was only 7 or 8 (as when it was originally broadcast it fell around my birthday) I dont remember a lot. The most clearest part I could remember was the original title sequence and end sequence. I recognised the title but as like the Castle of Adventure they have edited it into a whole TV movie rather than showing it as it originally was (I have come to the conclusion it was not possible with a VHS). Which unfortunately makes the whole thing 3 hour long - originally it was split into 6 half an hour slots. I have seen the 1999 film version and there are bits which are in the 1999 film version which this did not. But the UK version of the film is 92 minutes - the USA version is slightly longer at 102 mins.). The ending is slightly different from the 1999 film version - I am not sure whether the BBC decided to end it at a slightly different point or the film makers [of the 1999 version] added a bit more for content. I guess the only way to find out is by reading the book.
Although it was filmed in late 1980s there are surprisingly few well known actors, the only one is Tom's Aunt Gwen who was in Bad Girls, though one of the characters is played by Noah Huntley, who is apparently a famous actor. According to imdb most of the actors have been in several things since the show though. However in the 1999 film version although the film is entirely USA produced/made they have gone to the effort to make sure that nearly everyone is British rather than Americanising it (for example the Tom Hanks version of The Wicker Man) which would have spoilt it. Most of the people have been in a lot of other British stuff [the 1999 film version] the most famous people are Liz Smith (Norma Speakman in The Royle Family and Leticia Cropley in the Vicar of Dibley), Penelope Wilton (more famous recently as Harriet Jones in Doctor Who) and David Bradley (Filch in the Harry Potter movies). Noah Huntley also crops up in this version, playing the same character as he did in the 1989 production, though of course the older version.
Although the BBC version is more expensive than the 1999 film version it is worth it as it is far superior. The acting and setting, is far more believable, and the pace follows much more smoothly. I only wish the BBC would release it on DVD as it is a gem that deserves to be more accessible rather than languishing in the archives. This production, although originally meant for children, was made in a time where it was worth the licence fee, and obviously production values were high. If only children's telly was like this today, rather than cheap imports, and programmes relying on crude humour and farting, and poorly produced fillers (Thumb Wrestling Federation comes to mind). Although they have ended it earlier than perhaps the 1999 film version, everything is more sewn up and explained clearer, which is clearly needed. There is a really important 5 min bit of the BBC production during the last bit (near the end) which handily the 1999 film version has left out, and makes you somewhat confused.
Oh and The Horse in The Gray Flannel Suit is on DVD, though only as a Region 1 NTSC DVD (no sign of there being a Region 2 DVD).
Claire....Le Guin was so incensed at the butchery of her book, Wizard of Earthsea, for the adaptation that she actually came out before it's release saying how bad it was...she was completely cut out of any creative control.
After hearing about what they did to Susan Cooper's Dark is Rising, I made a point of not seeing it....luckily, just about everyone else did too, because it would be tragic for anyone to think that the movie had anything at all to do with the book. I can't think of anything bad enough to do to whoever did the screen adaptation. Keel hauling maybe....
Re The Red Shoes....hm....think I'll hold off on that and look for Ballet Shoes instead...not in the mood for a weepy!
Poor Ursual le Guin it must be terrible when your book is butchered like that, as a lot of people will judge the book by the film/TV show. I seem to remember also that Anne Rice came out and protested when they made the film Interview with the Vampire as she thought Tom Cruise was terrible casting. But later she retratced her views and said he was actually very good. Personally I agree with her first opinion! The film was not terrble but it didnt do justice to the book and Tom Cruise was not my idea of Lestat.
Susan, I remember you talking about the film version of The Dark is Rising a while ago. I watched it and thought it boring but luckily you put me right on the book being much much better. It does make me wonder how people who are supposed to be experienced in the business can make such a mess of such good material!
Garej I agree that childrens TV was much better back in the day. They used to have really good drama series on a Sunday night which the whole family could watch, and they were usually adaptations of children's books like The Phoenix and the Carpet or The Borrowers for example (both excellent). Maybe its changed cos families dont sit and watch TV together now as kids all have their own tellies. So a lot of the programmes now are just geared to kids childish humour, rather than having that depth which was desgined to appeal to the adults (and more mature kids) watching them. Theres some reasonable stuff for very young children, but nothing much for when they get older. I know it makes me sound like an old granny but I do pity the kids of today. They may have more material things than we did but they seem to miss out on such a lot of other things.
I recently watched and adaptation of Swiss family Robinson called "Stranded" which I really enjoyed although not enthralled by the book. There have been several versions of Heidi , none as good as the original book but always worth watching. The movie version of Phar Lap I found very moving; we all watched Black Beauty again recently and we all cried again and little Zane was saying, it's all right Granny, it's just a movie. Guess who hears that a lot? I agree with you about Dune, it was so bad I was put off reading any of the sequels. I think it is very difficult to make science fiction work when based on a novel. Thinking of "I, Robot" which was loosely based on Asimov's robot who featured in several books! Just thinking about today's tv and movies, the good ones are there but you have to search. when I look at the toys Zane at 3 (almost 4) has and remember what I (at 60) had, there is no comparison. He has far more. We were lucky to go to the movies once a month; we have a choice of old and new movies on Tv every night. He did go for his first foray to the cinema to see Toy Story 3 which he loved. But my 20 year olds say they had better movies and toys in their day.... maybe you have to wait two generations to appreciate the new? But Dune was TERRIBLE.
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