Thursday, March 21, 2019

Better Than The Book

It's common knowledge that a movie based on a book will be the lesser of the two, as the book can do more with the story. Whether that's getting you inside the heads of the characters, or just delving deeper into the story than you would be able to in 120 minutes, the books will treat the subject matter better than the movie.

This isn't always the case, though, and here are a couple of examples for you.

Moby Dick (1956)
I once read the novel Moby Dick and, to put it as generously as I can, it was a slog. Even if I read every other chapter, which are the only ones actually dealing with the plot, it was tough going. It might be the writing of the time period, but I just don't think Melville communicated the ideas behind his story very well.

If you want to really get a good version of the tale, I would recommend the 1956 movie. It stars Richard Basehart and Gregory Peck, with a cameo by Orson Welles, and was written by Ray Bradberry and John Huston (who also directed). This is a great tale of the sea and how obsession can get the better of everyone, not just the captain. I watched this movie again this weekend for the umteenth time and I still love it.

Jaws (1975)
Like Moby Dick, I also read Jaws. This wasn't an issue of the story being boring, but the characters in the book are just so ... despicable that I was routing for the shark to eat them all. Martin and Ellen Brody have a marriage on the rocks, to the point where Ellen has an affair with Hooper. No one in the story, in my opinion, is sympathetic.

Compare that to the movie, where they are real people with flaws, but the majority still do the right thing. Even the mayor comes around eventually. The only real "bad" person in it is Quint, and even he gets some sympathy with the Indianapolis connection.

There are a few more examples that I have, but they're a touch more controversial. What about you? Do any of the readers have some examples of where the movie, or even TV show, was better than the written source material?

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