Sometimes the movie is better than the book. I know, contentious. I am a reader and a writer I not supposed to say that. But as a consumer of stories, sometimes the movie is better than the book.
First the movie warnings:
3 Movies to avoid if you read the book
Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell plays boldly with genres and links his stories with a gentle silver thread. The movie? Mashed potato. I could not figure out what was going on and I had read the book
We Need to Talk about Kevin by Lionel Shriver Many years on and the Pocket Bookclub still likes to talk about Kevin. The movie spent to many arty farty scenes with the mother cleaning red paint off her porch and eating slimy eggs and not enough time on what Kevin actually did – how he chose his victims, lured them, planned and plotted. I had to explain to my fellow movie goer what had happened. He thought Kevin had just turned up a the school dance with weapons. Kevin was so much more than that.
Dead Europe by Christos Tsiolkas You can’t like this book. You can only be intensely disturbed by it. Pocket Bookblub Sue said there was a scene in the book that made her want to vomit. I kept getting to scenes and thinking, oh this is where Sue wanted to vomit, and then I would come to something more disturbing and change my mind. Finally it was clear what is was that made her so ill. I don’t think the movie showed that bit. The movie ended at what, the halfway point of the book. Maybe two thirds into the book. Ok, the plot was perplexing but leaving half of it out did not help.
When the book is as good as the movie
Atonement by Ian McEwan – both movie and book full of palatable longing and guilt
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold I knew Peter Jackson was the man for this job having seen his Heavenly Creatures. Susie Salmon is alive on the page on the screen. Well, not actually alive but you know what I mean.
The Life of Pi by Yann Martel both the book and the movie are glorious technicolour feasts
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak There are books in the movie too and death.
When the book and the movie are married forever happily ever after
The Hunger Games and Harry Potter – It is easy to complain or be perplexed about the bits that are left out. I still don’t know why they did not explain who made the marauder’s map. But I could not have the books without the movies. Together they are like a picture book. Here are the words, here are the pictures and the stories are just fatter and fuller and funner.
When the movie is better than the book
This is where the haters and going to hate.
Bridge to Teribithia by Katherine Paterson The book is lovely but I think the movie has a better story structure – the structure in the book is somehow flatter. I can’t rewatch the movie past a certain point. I know what is going to happen and I don’t want my heart broken again.
No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy – I do appreciate McCarthy is Mr Sparse in his prose which is maybe why I felt like I was reading the movie script when I read the book. The Cohen brothers have a distinctive touch and I think they brought the story to life.
Game of Thrones by George R R Martin – OK I am going to be accused of not being a real fan. I read the first book and oh hum. Dull writing and same same as the first season. Meanwhile I understand there is so more in the latter books – I understand the book reader’s frustration when story lines slide off in different directions. Really I do and I apologise but then when the TV show is this entertaining I could not be bothered with the books. Also I realise this is not a movie, but it is cinematic television.
Do you disagree? Tell me! Do you some more suggestions of movies to avoid or movies that are better than the books.