Best and Worst Adaptation(s) of Book(s) To Cinema and Television

BAYLOR

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What are choices for the best and worst adaptations and what makes them so? :)
 

Ray Pullar

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Blade Runner drops many of the characters, plot developments and themes of Dick's book.
 

Cathbad

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The original Dune movie. Gawd, how horrible!! We heard more of what's going on in the character's heads than verbal dialogue!
 

Vince W

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Best adaptation of a comic book is Dredd. They absolutely nailed it. Karl Urban was perfect as Dredd. Although the 1978 Superman is pretty darn great too.

Worst adaptations is a list as long as my arm, but off the top of my head, I, Robot, Bicentennial Man, Ender's Game, Solaris, Damnation Alley...
 

nixie

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Best adaptation that I can think of is Memoirs of a Geisha. Stephen King books come over well on the screen. The original Dredd Movie with Stallone is one of the worst I have seen.
 

BAYLOR

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Best adaptation of a comic book is Dredd. They absolutely nailed it. Karl Urban was perfect as Dredd. Although the 1978 Superman is pretty darn great too.

Worst adaptations is a list as long as my arm, but off the top of my head, I, Robot, Bicentennial Man, Ender's Game, Solaris, Damnation Alley...


Damnation Alley
, I absolutely agree putrid film

Ender Game was better then I thought it was going to be, probably as good an adaptation as we were likely to get.

I Robot was mostly a collection od stories, so Im not sure any close adaptation was possible. The film we got was a decent science fiction action conspiracy thriller. I think though , that I would have liked to seen them do it off the Script that Harlan Ellison wrote many years back

The Bicentennial Man good film , but didn't adhere very closely to Asimov's story

Solaris Never read the book though I did like the 1972 film, didn't really bother with the George Clooney remake.
 
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BAYLOR

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The original Dune movie. Gawd, how horrible!! We heard more of what's going on in the character's heads than verbal dialogue!
The 1984 film visually looked good. The problem is that Dune is such a complex novel, that you can't do justice to in a feature film format. It would work as a tv series , because then you could cover much of the story.
 

Cathbad

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The 1984 film visually looked good. The problem is that Dune is such a complex novel, that you can't do justice to in a feature film format. It would work as a tv series , because then you could cover much of the story.
Agreed. Myself and many of my friends agreed at the time we'd have been willing to py the big bucks for a full-day feature!
 

Cathbad

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I Robot was mostly a collection od stories, so Im not sure any close adaptation was possible. The film we got was a decent science fiction action conspiracy thriller. I think though , that I would have liked to seen them do it off the Script that Harlan Ellison wrote many years back
Agreed! I loved the movie; at least the second time I saw it and got over my expectations.
 

MWagner

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Best: The Man Who Would be King, Dr. Zhivago, Master and Commander, The Shining, Lolita, a Clockwork Orange (lots of Kubrick there).

Worst: Jackson's Hobbit movies.
 

Edward M. Grant

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Fight Club is one of the best. Mostly because they changed the ending, and the one in the movie made more sense than the book.

American Psycho, because they cut out the boring 600-odd pages, and kept the good parts.

I still have no idea how they managed to screw up Damnation Alley. The book seemed pretty much made for a movie, but they threw most of it away. Practically nothing remained of the original book.

Dredd was one of the best comic adaptions, but I've no idea how they managed to spend so much money on a movie that looked like they were trying to shoot it on a low budget (e.g. keeping most of the action in one tower block).
 

Ray Pullar

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Stephen King (in his non-fiction survey of the horror genre Danse Macabre) quoted the author Ira Levin that the film adaptation of his book Rosemary's Baby was one of the closest ever.

Ira Levin said:
I've always felt that the film of Rosemary's Baby is the single most faithful adaptation of a novel ever to come out of Hollywood. Not only does it incorporate whole chunks of the book's dialogue, it even follows the colours of clothing (where I mentioned them) and the layout of the apartment. And perhaps more importantly, Polanski's directorial style of not aiming the camera squarely at the horror but rather letting the audience spot it for themselves off at the side of the screen coincides happily, I think, with my own writing style.

There was a reason for his fidelity to the book, incidentally ... His screenplay was the first adaptation he had written of someone else's material; his earlier films had all been originals, I think he didn't know it was permitted - nay, almost mandatory! - to make changes. I remember him calling me from Hollywood to ask in which issue of the New Yorker Guy had seen the shirt advertised. To my chagrin I had to admit I'd faked it; I had assumed any issue of the New Yorker would have a handsome shirt advertised in it. But the correct issue of the time of the scene didn't.
Accuracy on shirts! King also quotes Invasion of the body snatchers author Jack Finney in private correspondence on the authenticity of the Don Siegel directed film to his book, particularly regarding the anti-communist or anti-anti-communist allegory some perceived.

Jack Finney said:
I have read explanations of the 'meaning' of the story, which amuse me, because there is no meaning at all; it was just a story to entertain, and with no more meaning than that. The first movie version of the book followed the book with great faithfulness, except for the foolish ending; and I've always been amused by the contentions of people connected with the picture that they had a message of some sort in mind. If so, it's a lot more than I ever did, and since they followed my story very closely, it's hard to see how this message crept in.
 

Randy M.

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Concerning Jack Finney: Writers don't live in a vacuum. Their environment has an effect on them and their imaginations. Coming up with "just" a story doesn't mean their imagination wasn't pushed into a train of thought by what they perceived around them. What I've found funny about that movie is that critics took it to be anti-McCarthyism, while the director stated he thought of it as anti-Communism. Frankly, they may both be right insofar as political extremes tend toward similar results.

Anyway, other good adaptations of novels:
Laura (1944)
Night Has a Thousand Eyes (1948) (not quite as good as the novel, but still good)
Psycho (1960) (improved on source novel)
The Haunting (1963)
Goldfinger (1964) (improved on source novel)


Some shorter works have been turned into really good movies, too:
Rear Window (1954) (story, "It Had to be Murder" by Cornell Woolrich)

And of course now I've said that I'm blanking on other examples.


Randy M.
 

Fried Egg

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I thought "A Scanner Darkly" was well adapted for the big screen.

On the other hand I thought "Blade Runner" was a terrible adaptation; lost all the humour and some of my favourite scenes.
 

Frost Giant

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I thought The Mist (2007) was a pretty decent adaptation. Better than some of the other Stephen King films out there.
 

galanx

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"Blade Runner" (Director's Cut) was a great movie which didn't have much to do with the source. Should be thought of as stand-alone.

Godfather I and II were excellent adaptations of a barely mediocre novel.
 

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