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Thread: Movie versions vs the orginal novels... your thoughts?

  1. #1

    Default Movie versions vs the orginal novels... your thoughts?


    I've been reading a lot of books lately and some are movies as well. One novel I recently finished was M*A*S*H, which was first a book then a movie as well as the TV series. The novel, I thought was awesome and the movie, came close to it.

    Another, that comes close to the novel, is The Hunt For Red October by Tom Clancy. One movie that didn't even come close to the novel in that series, was The Sum of All Fears. Good movie, but WAYYYY different than the novel. Stephen King's The Stand, a good miniseries, but not as good as the book.

    Another one, Starship Troopers. BOY that movie was nowhere similar to the book at all. I've not read the Harry Potter books so I don't have an opinion of those, or even Twilight.

    I would love to know, fellow ADISCers what you all think of movies vs the original novels.


  2. #2


    The Shawshank Redemption was an amazing movie that went above and beyond Stephen King's original short story, "Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption." One of the best movies ever made, and it brought to life what was an otherwise forgettable novella.

    While it's not a movie, the television series Dexter captures the concept of Jeff Lindsay's novels about a vigilante serial-killer (Darkly Dreaming Dexter, Dearly Devoted Dexter, and so on) far more colorfully than the source material. I felt that the books were little more than cliched attempts to bring to life a rather creative concept -- the television show took the IP and dominated it, though.

    Appaloosa, based on the book of the same name by Robert B. Parker, was a pretty solid book-to-film adaptation of what is an otherwise extremely enjoyable Old West story. Not the best film in the world, but not the worst, and it did wonderfully to visualize the book!

    Smoke Signals was a film based on one of author Sherman Alexie's short stories, "This is What it Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona." While the movie made the short story more accessible to a wider audience, it did the story and Alexie's other works justice, bringing forth the same humor and authenticity for which he's become popular.

  3. #3


    Using the pen name "Richard Hooker" Richard Hornberger, MD, FACS wrote a short novel about his experiences in Korea with the 8055th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital. Although by the time M*A*S*H was filmed as a feature the restrictive Production Code had given way to the current Code Rating Authority, it still was hardly possible to use many of Hornberger's episodes. Of course he was writing a novel not a screenplay.

    Ring Lardner, Jr. won the Oscar for his screenplay of MASH, although he had been very upset how director Robert Altman failed to follow that script. It is interesting that the AMPAS voted Lardner the Oscar based on seeing the film, not reading the screenplay. Of course in his later comments Altman claims credit for the entire film. Altman also admits hating the TV series, since he did not profit from it. Altman has also claimed his then 13 year-old son Mike wrote the lyrics for the song and consequently between records, the feature and TV series made far more money than had Robert Altman. Who knows it might be true.

    Adapting stage plays to movies often is considered easier than starting with a novel. A stage play script and a feature screenplay are nearly the same length, about 120 pages, which would be a very short novel. A novel can go on and on about what characters are thinking. In a script this needs to be described in visual terms that can be photographed. So much needs to be left out of the novel. Starting from a stageplay usually the scenes need to be "opened up" for visual interest since with film editing it makes no difference how long it took the crew to go from loacation to another location.

    Basic rule is when we like the film we think it follows the novel. If we do not like the film we blame the director. How often do original authors of novels create outstanding movie adaptations?

    Okay, so how about all the cinema student members discuss this with your professors and classmates. If you get the chance even ask people who have actually written, directed and produced films successfully distributed.

  4. #4


    While it's more of a short story than a book, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button was a good read, and is my favorite movie. There are a lot of differences though, but it's enjoyable either way.

    The Harry Potter books are all right. I honestly wouldn't mind if they had a lot more added in the movies though. I'll forgive all the screw ups they've done if they have a very epic Battle of Hogwarts in the final movie.

    Those are the only two at the moment that I can think of where I've read the books and seen the movies

  5. #5


    Stephen King is an interesting subject. You're absolutely right, Dawes, that his short stories have made wonderful movies, I suppose because the director and writers had a better and more expanded idea of the short story. I absolutely love "Stand by Me", as so much of my childhood paralleled the characters in the movie. I even looked like the kid with the leaches, and my best friend looked like River Phoenix. Yes, my wife thought he was beautiful when she met him when we were first married...haha.

    Conversely, television destroyed his longer novels like "It". I enjoyed watching it as well as "The Stand", but the books were so much better. It was so in your face, both with violence and language. Stephen King in his book "On Writing" talks about being honest both to yourself and to your reader. Real people, especially those who have lived their lives in a hard difficult world, use the word fuck. Television doesn't because it lives in tinsel and pablum.

    Beautiful explanation and information of M*A*S*H Angela. Leave it to you to have this kind of insight. Bravo!

  6. #6


    Amen... Angela, thanks! M*A*S*H has become one of my all-time favorite novels since I first read it in the late 1990s.

    I can imagine how hard it is for a director to follow along to a script and a novel. I have always been fond of the M*A*S*H novel because it was well written by Richard Hornberger. I also liked his attention to detail.

    I also forgot about Shawshank Redemption, another one of my all-time favorite movies and short-stories by King. I always have liked Stephen King. And Dogboy, I agree with you. TV ruins things. Certain things should not be made for TV. Though I did like The Stand. BTW... little known fact, Stephen King himself wrote the screenplay and backed it.

    I guess I've been thinking about this because I've been reading a lot. Lately my nose has been buried in two Stephen King novels, a book about the Cleveland Indians, and such. I was disappointed also with the TV adaptation of Desperation.


  7. #7


    Quote Originally Posted by Dawes View Post
    The Shawshank Redemption was an amazing movie that went above and beyond Stephen King's original short story, "Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption." One of the best movies ever made, and it brought to life what was an otherwise forgettable novella.
    I definitely agree with you there. Shawshank is just an amazing movie. It always shocks me when I remember that it was Stephen King who had written the original piece of work that would become one of the greatest movies of all time. Changing "Red" to an African American (instead of being an Irishmen) was a smart decision for the writers; Morgan Freeman simply dominates that movie.

    Some might argue with me here, but I firmly believe that Mario Puzo's "The Godfather" is at an equal par with the movie(s) itself. Very few movies can top Part I and Part II (Part III was not the best, let's face it...), and it was a smart decision for Coppola to have Puzo write the screenplay for it so the movie would not lose any of the novel's prestige. Simply a great movie on all accounts.

    - Asher

  8. #8


    In my opinion most books made movie are altered to much. Either stuff missing or changed. Most of the time i will always prefer the book over the movie

  9. #9


    Godfather, another thing I almost forgot about... been busy. Damn. I have read the book, seen the movie and WOW. Both are good in their own right in my opinion. I have always liked The Godfather movie and I also have a copy of the novel. I found both have their senses.

    The Godfather novel and movie are both well done. I think what does the movie well was the cast and how it was done.


  10. #10


    Lord of the Rings did a great job capturing the feel of the book, although it couldn't possibly go into as much detail. The on-screen characters very much resembled my mental images from reading the books decades before. I'd say its one of the very few movies that lived up to a really great book.

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