Great books, terrible movies

I was just watching a bit of Breaking Dawn on TV. It’s been four years since the movie hit theatres and I had almost forgotten the movie. The two seconds I saw made me sigh. Why didn’t they capture the feel of the book?

Hollywood has the ability to create amazing movies. And there are incredible books out there. Why can’t those two winning combinations create an even better result?

Time after time, I’ve gone into the movie theatre and come out disappointed. I know I’m not alone. As Adam Holmes aptly explains in his great post, “I’m talking about movies where, having seen them, you have to re-read the book as quickly as possible just to assure yourself that the original story was actually good.”

I too go back to the books and unfailingly fall back in love but my frustration doesn’t abate. Why can’t the genuine, honest talent translate from the page to the screen?

 has a theory in his post Great Book, Bad Movie. He says: “The answer is simple, but it has complex implications: Novels are long, but movies are short. It’s impossible to encapsulate the tonal shifts of a book like Revolutionary Road  in a feature-length film, no matter how long those two hours feel.

“The movie replaces character with plot, and the result lands with a wet flop.”

Is that it? Is the movie too short? Can no film ever live up to the book’s great triumph?

But I can think of some successes. What about The Godfather? Or Lord of the Rings or Forrest Gump or Jaws or The Silence of the Lambs? Those were all amazing movies and they were made out of great books.

But maybe none of this matters. Idiotic or loyal, if I see a movie made out of a book I’ve read, I’m going. I won’t care if it has received bad reviews or good ones. I’m going to see how those characters I loved did and how the story that so enthralled me has come to life.

Then, if the movie doesn’t live up to my expectations, I’ll moan and grumble and curse…


Until the next time a book becomes a movie.