Thread: Books to films
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Old 05-06-2013, 03:08 PM   #4
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Good thread.

There are one or two cases where I enjoyed the film version better than the book it was based on.

1. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Phiip K. Dick. I can't get on with Philip K. Dick. I have tried. The concept is often brilliant but the execution leaves me cold. Maybe I was too young to appreciate this book when I read it, but it didn't do a lot for me. Blade Runner, however, I can watch over and over.

2. Lord of the Rings. J R R Tolkien. It's a great book, but the film is even better in my view. Tolkien was an English professor with a love of middle and old english. So the book reflects this preoccupation with etymology and language. For me it scored high on scope and imaginative power, but lower on characterisation and narrative urgency. I think what Peter Jackson did was retain the epic feel and bring out the adventure story in it. For example, the first sight of the Nazgul (sp?) in the first film is electrifying - I never got that from the text in the same way.

3. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - by C.S. Lewis (drinking buddy to Tolkien). I think they did a bang-up job with this. They treated the source material with due reverence, and resisted every attempt to make it more up-to-date, which would have ruined it. There are very few films with kids in that I find bearable, but I thought the performances were pretty good.

4. Dracula - by Bram Stoker. Any film version. The book is really a stinker in my view: incredibly tedious and repetitive, lacking any narrative tension, and about 200 pages longer than it needs.

5. The Time Machine - by H. G Wells. There's one made a few years back which is a real turkey, but the 1950s one with Rod Taylor remains a favourite film of mine.

6. Ben-Hur by General Lew Wallace (?) The book is essentially a christian tract and while I enjoyed it, I think the film did a fine job in balancing that with Judah Ben-Hur's story. Everyone talks about the chariot race, but the early scene where Ben-Hur confronts Messala (played by Steven Boyd, who died tragically young) about loyalty is really gripping and well written.

7. I, Claudius by Robert Graves. Not a film, but a BBC series. Looks a bit stagey now, but it's a who's who of British acting talent. Brian Blessed's finest role.
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