Wednesday, June 27, 2018

The Book to Screen Debate, part 4, the finale by Toi Thomas

So, the day has finally arrived for me to ruffle some feathers about movies that might be just as good as the book if not better. If you missed the previous posts in the series, check them out here: part one, part two, and part three.

The first thing to understand about today’s topic is that all opinions are relative. While many may agree on something, there’s no way to have everyone agree on any one thing. I think it just goes against human nature. Still, most book lovers, myself included, will agree that film versions almost always fall short of the impact the original book made. However, I do believe there are a few exceptions to this rule.

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1) Frankenstein 1931. Back during a time when science fiction was not taken as seriously as it is today, during a time when science fiction films were even less regarded than the literature, a monster movie began to change that. I am not saying that this old film is actually better than the book, but I am saying that it may be more impactful than the book. It is because of this film that many people have gone back to read Mary Shelly’s original novel. There are countless social messages to be learned from watching this film and reading the book, but it was the popularity of this film that has made, even Mary Shelly, so notable and attention worthy. This film almost stands on its own as a cinematic sci-fi/horror masterpiece separate from the literary classic Shelly wrote.

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2) Disney’s Peter Pan 1953. I am not about to go on a praise bandwagon for all the stories Disney has reform to fit their fun-loving formula. However, I will give praise to their version of Peter Pan. Oddly enough, this story started out as a stage-play in 1904 (The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up) and later became a novel in 1911 (Peter and Wendy). The Disney version of this story came along at a time when many children would have never been able to see it on stage and may not have been able to get a copy of the book. Plus, in traditional Disney fashion, the story was polished a bit to suit a wider audience, though some of the portrayals in the film are clearly dated and even a bit controversial (probably why I enjoy many of the newer culturally diverse or culturally accurate versions), but compared to the book, it’s light and fluffy. Just the way many of us like our children’s stories.

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3) The Outsiders 1983. This is another film that I don’t actually think is better than the book, but it’s just as good and may have made a greater impact than the book. The film almost stands on its own, separate from the book, because of how it changed filmmaking. Without the success of The Outsiders film, Twilight, Hunger Games, and other teen films may not have been possible (whether you like them or not). Because of this film, not only did people go out and read the original novel, they also read a lot of Robert Frost, and read and watched Gone with the Wind.

Lastly) This is totally a personal preference and has no logical, social, or other explanation what so ever. I enjoyed reading the original Stardust book but I thoroughly enjoyed the film (Stardust 2007) more. I honestly liked most of the changes that were made, and just ignored the changes I didn’t like…
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I will say one thing for those who think that the book is always better than the film no matter what. It’s all about perspective. If you see the film first and love it dearly, reading the book later may disappoint you or excite you. It’s a toss-up

If you liked this post and or series, please consider checking out Remakes-The best and worst of books film music and more, over at The ToiBox of Words.

Oh, and Joe Bonadonna has a great list of dystopian books and films at Dystopian Fiction: Part 4.


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Amazon | Goodreads The ToiBox of Words | YouTube | See a list of my other posts here.


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