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Topic: Why are books always better than the movie?

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Subject: Why are books always better than the movie?
Date Posted: 4/1/2008 5:17 AM ET
Member Since: 1/21/2006
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Has anyone every seen a movie that was better than the book? What recently published book do you wish would become a movie?

Date Posted: 4/1/2008 6:50 AM ET
Member Since: 11/28/2007
Posts: 5,483
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Believe it or not, I thought the movie version of Ordinary People was better than the book.  It's about the only example I can think of. 

It may be because I saw the movie first, then read the book (which is unusual!).  And I loved the movie, everything about it, even the music.  And then when I read the book, it focused on some characters that weren't in the movie, and I guess it just didn't invoke in my head the movie that I so loved.  Weird, I know.....


Date Posted: 4/1/2008 8:18 AM ET
Member Since: 10/30/2006
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Last Edited on: 12/13/08 1:52 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 4/1/2008 10:01 AM ET
Member Since: 5/23/2005
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I do agree with Forrest Gump...though interesting, I did struggle through that book!

BUT, oh my!  Have you ever read Dances with Wolves?  It is my tied for first place movie, and one of the worst books I've ever read.  I don't understand how Costner saw through the tedium and mess to create the masterpiece he did.  But he is a genius, and further proved it by making For the Love of the Game.  We just now tried to listen to that book in audio, and couldn't finish it, it was horrible!  Boring and redundant, yet, we are fans of the author and enjoyed the movie a lot.

Then there is Sweet Hostage, a made for TV movie back when Martin Sheen, Linda Blair and I were young.  Gee, I really liked that movie, sappy though it was.  I recall rushing right to the library to get the book.  I consider that book one of the biggest shocks of my life.  It was one of the worst reads of my life.  Another written by a writer I enjoyed: Nathaniel Benchley.

Rick B. (bup) - ,
Date Posted: 4/1/2008 10:05 AM ET
Member Since: 11/2/2007
Posts: 2,625
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I think the book is usually better because first, the author has a longer time to accomplish his/her goal. The reader spends many hours getting to know the characters and watching things unfold. Second, a book is much more one person's vision - a movie is always a group effort. While it's a stretch to say a movie is only as good as its "weakest link" among writer, director, producer, and major players, there's certainly some truth to that. Any one of those can really hurt a movie.

Finally, they tend to only make movies from good books. There's plenty of bad books out there, but then there's no movie so you can say, "hey, that movie is totally better!"

As long as we're listing exceptions, I haven't read "The Firm," but I know many people feel it's better (more believable) than the book.


Date Posted: 4/1/2008 10:19 AM ET
Member Since: 9/12/2007
Posts: 604
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I think we tend to prefer the book is because in books you can visualize the characters and scenery the way you want to in your head. When people or places look different on screen after reading the book, we get a little disappointed. Just my take on it!

Date Posted: 4/1/2008 10:28 AM ET
Member Since: 10/2/2007
Posts: 1,278
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The Godfather, as someone already mentioned, is a better movie than it is a book.

Jaws also made a better movie than it was as a book.

Date Posted: 4/1/2008 10:51 AM ET
Member Since: 11/28/2007
Posts: 5,483
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Jaws is an excellent example of a better movie.  Thanks for reminding me!  The book was terrible!!

Date Posted: 4/1/2008 11:01 AM ET
Member Since: 1/8/2006
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"Something Wicked This Way Comes" made a better movie than the Ray Bradbury book, and I thought Kubrick's version of "The Shining" made a much better story than how Stephen King originally wrote it.

As for what book(s) I think should be made into a movie, they're both currently being made - "The Ruins" by Scott Smith and "World War Z" by Max Brooks. The books will no doubt be better for each but it will be good to see them on-screen.

Date Posted: 4/2/2008 12:09 PM ET
Member Since: 10/10/2007
Posts: 25
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I had a hard time reading Jaws as a book.  Love the movie!  The book was a bit of a downer.

Subject: Why?
Date Posted: 4/2/2008 12:25 PM ET
Member Since: 4/2/2008
Posts: 2
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   Although I've seen a few movies better than there books, I think the reason that books are usually better is because the authors can describe the characters emotions better.

Kim (Mistry) -
Date Posted: 4/2/2008 3:27 PM ET
Member Since: 6/23/2006
Posts: 4,094
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  I thought Bridget Jones' Diary was much much better as a book. 

I just found out they are making a movie out of "Twilight" by Stephenie Meyer.  Not sure how that's going to go over as a movie, there's so much inner thinking going on in the book, it'll be difficult to carry it to the screen.

I also thought Gone With The Wind was great both as a book and a movie.

Date Posted: 4/2/2008 6:52 PM ET
Member Since: 4/22/2007
Posts: 270
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The TV mini-series version of Pride and Prejudice was way better than the book, and also Bridge to Terabithia, the new version.

Books to be made into movies? I'd love to see a good movie made out of the Inheritance Cycle (Eragon was PATHETIC!!!).

ETA: I read The Bourne Identity and it was nowhere near as good as the movie. Those are great movies.

Last Edited on: 4/28/08 8:23 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 4/2/2008 8:58 PM ET
Member Since: 4/28/2007
Posts: 54
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Princess Diaries was a better movie than book I thought

Rick B. (bup) - ,
Date Posted: 4/3/2008 10:22 AM ET
Member Since: 11/2/2007
Posts: 2,625
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>>The TV mini-series version of Pride and Prejudice was way better than the book

If it's better than Austen's book, it must be the most amazing mini-series in the history of everything.

Date Posted: 4/3/2008 11:48 AM ET
Member Since: 1/12/2008
Posts: 1,356
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I thought The Notebook was a better movie than book---not a big fan of Sparks' writing.


Glad to see this topic is hot today--I just watched an amazing movie adaptation of Somerset Maugham's The Painted Veil, done in 06 with Edward Norton and Naomi Watts--it was very very good onscreen, and so now I'm motivated to read the novel--just put it on my Reminder List, in fact.  It's a rare movie that drives me to the book--of course, I've usually read most of the books before they become movies, but still...........

Date Posted: 4/8/2008 9:58 AM ET
Member Since: 6/19/2007
Posts: 5,931
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When a movie becomes iconic and classic, its art, and unless the book its derived from can also be considered art, the movie is better.  Or if both are works of art, then the book & movie are equally great.  Granted this happens very rarely, but it can happen. 

Movies that are better than the book see: The Godfather, A Clockwork Orange, Psycho (1960), Silence of the Lambs, The Big Sleep, Rosemary's Baby, Schindler's List

Movies that equal the books see: Rebecca (1940), Gone with the Wind, Frankenstein (1931), Lord of the Rings, The Maltese Falcon, One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest etc.

I wish they would make a movie of Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell or a decent one of the Harry Potter books (the movies are bland & flat & magicless, like coloring-book versions of the Last Supper or Starry Night)

Last Edited on: 4/8/08 10:02 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 4/8/2008 11:19 AM ET
Member Since: 5/22/2005
Posts: 1,592
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I saw that The Firm was mentioned as a better movie than book. I disliked the movie because so much of the plot was changed. I almost always prefer the book over movie when a screen version differs greatly from the printed version. It just doesn't seem right to alter the story drastically when making a movie.

For example.....Running Man......the only thing similar is the title and the very basic premise.

Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman was another great book but stinker movie.

All of the Jason Bourne books.....I loved the books and was so excited to see the movies until I found no resemblance, maybe the first one was close to the story but after that only the title and the character's name was the same.

The Shining (Kubrick version) was robbed of the basic reason for the madness of the main character and the ending was changed for no reason that I could see except to add some gore. Hated it.

On the other hand Cider House Rules was very true to the book. I'm sure there are a lot more good examples but in general I think the book is always better.

Date Posted: 4/14/2008 12:41 AM ET
Member Since: 10/21/2007
Posts: 8
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>>and I thought Kubrick's version of "The Shining" made a much better story than how Stephen King originally wrote it.<<

I'm sorry, but I have to totaly disagree on this one!  I got the book on a Friday and finished Sunday afternoon, and we all know how big that book is!  I could not put it down and it scared the begebes out of me!  The movie, to be totaly blunt, sucked.  It's on my list of movies that should not have been made.  And that seems to be the norm for movies made from S. King books.  The only one that comes close to being as good as the book, was the mini-series of The Stand.  Of course Stand By Me, but that was a short story. :)

And I'm with "bup".  If a mini-series of Pride & Prejudice was better than the book, it must be the best movie ever!

A book that I would love to see a movie of is "The Eyre Affair".   It would have to have so much FX in it, it probably isn't cost effective, but it would be fun to see!


Date Posted: 4/16/2008 1:27 PM ET
Member Since: 4/12/2007
Posts: 106
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I liked The Notebook movie better than the book.  And White Oleander.  It seems for me that I like whichever one I'm exposed to first I like the best.  I don't know if this is coincidence or not.

Date Posted: 4/16/2008 9:49 PM ET
Member Since: 9/13/2006
Posts: 50
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I've learned to stop watching movies that are made from a book I've already read and not to read the book of a movie I've seen and loved, lol.

Date Posted: 4/17/2008 9:28 PM ET
Member Since: 9/23/2006
Posts: 527
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I finally saw a movie I personally believe was better than the book- The Jane Austen Book Club, funnily enough. :) I didn't really connect with the characters much in the novel, but I absolutely loved them in the film. All of the actors were amazing, and I really bought the relationships.

Date Posted: 4/21/2008 2:49 PM ET
Member Since: 1/30/2006
Posts: 61
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Predominantly, a novel is always better than a movie.  Our own imagination is so much more amazing than someone else's.

However, I loved the movie "Practical Magic"---thought the novel was a yawn.

Both movie and novel of "Gone With the Wind" were tee-dee-ous!  Frankly, I didn't give a damn either.  (Great costumes though!)

I don't know how they are going to make "Twilight" as special as it is on the page.  They won't---another disappointment.

"P.S. I Love You"  I am still bitter that they destroyed one of my favorite books.  Hilary Swank?  C'mon, get real!!!!

I LOVED the movie Sweet Hostage.  The 70's had GREAT tv movies.  Does anyone remember Sandcastles with Jan Michael Vincent and Bonnie Bedalia.  I used to sob thru it!  (Hormonal teen!)


Subject: They always have to leave so much out.
Date Posted: 4/21/2008 3:02 PM ET
Member Since: 2/3/2008
Posts: 32
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That's the main reason, in my opinion. And as people have said, the book is a unified vision. I supposed theoretically the movie is supposed to be the director's vision, but the author is always there so you've always got at least two imaginations there, unless they happen to mesh perfectly. The problem with the Kubrick version of _The Shining_, from what I've heard, is that Kubrick didn't believe in the supernatural, in which case, WHAT WAS HE DOING MAKING A MOVIE OF A STEPHEN KING BOOK? So of course, he had to have the guy going crazy. I also didn't like the casting of Jack Nicholson, however good an actor he is, or the actress who played the mother. They were both just a little too weird. This was supposed to be a picture-perfect young family.
Date Posted: 4/21/2008 3:41 PM ET
Member Since: 1/8/2006
Posts: 296
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Good point, Leslie - maybe the non-belief in the supernatural is what caused me to like the Kubrick version so much. It was more "real" to me - like it could happen to any family in the same circumstances. Cabin fever gone to the extreme.

FWIW, I hated the casting of the mother, too. Jack Nicholson can play crazy like no one else, but Shelley Duvall I just didn't care for.