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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Not very magical, still... » » Movies that are better than the book (1 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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RogerTheShrubber
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In the "New to Magic?" forum's thread on The Prestige, this is an excerpt of what I posted:

"As an aside, I can think of only one movie I liked better than the book: Hunt for Red October. The book uses about 475 pages to tell a story that could have been told in 275. With almost every page I turned I was thinking to myself 'Yeah, Tom, I get it, you did your research - and you did it well. Back to the story, please'."

To that end, I was wondering if any of you have ever seen movies you enjoyed more than the book that preceded it. Most people, including me, almost always prefer the book, and posting in the Prestige thread made me wonder if anyone could name movies they found exceptions to that "rule."

Cheers,

Roger
landmark
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That's tough. Maybe Midnight Cowboy. I read the novel a year or two ago, and I was surprised to find how much of the dialogue which appears to be ad-libbed in the movie is actually verbatim from the book. That's a testament to how brilliantly Hoffman and Voight inhabited their characters.
gypsyfish
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The Great Santini. Not a criticism of the book, it's wonderful, but Robert Duvall is just so amazing as Bull Meacham, as is Michael O'Keefe playing his son. The basketball game scene, while in the book, is visceral to watch. I think it's Duvall's greatest performance and he's had so many great movies.
mastermindreader
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The Godfather.
tommy
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I can't really think of one. The Shining maybe.
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

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I liked The Seven Faces of Dr Lao better the The Circus of Dr. Lao (more up beat and less sinister).

I liked The Wizard of Oz (also return to Oz) movie better than any of the books.

-Mary Mowder
ed rhodes
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Quote:
On Feb 14, 2015, tommy wrote:
I can't really think of one. The Shining maybe.


Oh dear God, no! Kubrick lost almost everything that made those characters live and that made the situation frightening.

The Princess Bride on the other hand. As much as I liked the book, I felt the movie flowed better.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit? The book; "Who CENSORED Roger Rabbit" is clunky and badly written.

Here's one I'm pretty certain no one has seen.

Detroit Metal City http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1142972/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1

The original story was a manga (Japanese comic) concerning a music student who wants nothing more than to play Swedish based pop tunes but the only job he can get is as the front man for a "death metal" band. In the book, the stories are self contained. In the movie they flow into each other. Rather than have the "battle of the bands" and THEN go home on vacation, the hero LEAVES the band before the battle and goes home certain that he's accomplishing nothing in his career. While there, he uses his "death metal" persona to put his brother back onto the right track and learns that his band in fact has taught people to live their dreams, he then returns to Tokyo to face the American death metal champion (played by KISS frontman Gene Simmons!)
"There's no time to lose," I heard her say.
"Catch your dreams before they slip away."
"Dying all the time, lose your dreams and you could lose your mind.
Ain't life unkind?"
Geoff Weber
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Silence of the lambs
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I liked the film better maybe because it was not so real but rather balanced between real mental breakdown and the super natural and like magic left one in a dilemma.
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stoneunhinged
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Quote:
On Feb 14, 2015, ed rhodes wrote:
Quote:
On Feb 14, 2015, tommy wrote:
I can't really think of one. The Shining maybe.


Oh dear God, no! Kubrick lost almost everything that made those characters live and that made the situation frightening.



Having never read the book, I can neither agree nor disagree. But in general, one aspect of Kubrick's genius was that he re-interpreted very interesting books. He didn't "adapt" them, changing them around to attempt to make them more marketable or more popular with audiences. He absorbed the source material, lived and breathed it, then put his own interpretation on the work as if it were a great piece of art worthy of being turned around to see the different angles and reflections. His version of Clockwork Orange is by no means superior to the book: it is different and profoundly interesting. I think 2001 is actually better than the book. I suspect (again, I haven't read the source material) that Eyes Wide Shut (which he had thought about for years; he had even been considering the material as a screwball comedy--with Steve Martin as the protagonist!) is superior to the novella on which it was based. But does it matter?

If you take the Shining as a film all by itself, it is truly a masterpiece. Maybe the book is a masterpiece, too. But I think one has to consider Kubrick's approach in general before declaring the film simply "inferior".

Thanks for bringing it up, Ed! Thinking about Kubrick is always a pleasure (and provocation).

BTW: I have Lolita on my reading list, mainly because Magnus Eisengrimm has referred to it as a favorite many times on this forum. But I didn't like Kubrick's Lolita much at all, so I'm guessing the book will win for me on this one.
landmark
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On Feb 14, 2015, mastermindreader wrote:
The Godfather.

Yes, I agree, Bob. That's one of those cases where the book is really good, but the film is so excellent, it noses out the book.

Lolita, the book by far, despite being a James Mason fan.
Cliffg37
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I had a very hard time reading and getting through "The world according to Garp." The movie had issues, at some points it was choppy suggesting bad editing, but I enjoyed it far more than I did the book.
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Magnus Eisengrim
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Quote:
On Feb 14, 2015, stoneunhinged wrote:

BTW: I have Lolita on my reading list, mainly because Magnus Eisengrimm has referred to it as a favorite many times on this forum. But I didn't like Kubrick's Lolita much at all, so I'm guessing the book will win for me on this one.


The Kubrick film is significantly less than the sum of its parts. It's greatest virtue is Peter Sellars giving the performance of his life. Kubrick appears to have recognized this, and abandoned Nabokov so that he could have Sellars take over the movie.



Brilliant cinema, but disastrous Lolita.
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.--Yeats
RogerTheShrubber
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On Feb 14, 2015, Geoff Weber wrote:
Silence of the lambs


Oh, good one. I didn't think of it at the time I was writing about Hunt for Red October, but I completely agree with this.
TonyB2009
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Despite his involvement in the desperate drivel of 2001, Kubrick was a very good director. His version of Barry Lyndon was vastly superior to the book. I loved every moment of the film, but the book was boring and a severe disappointment from a normally good writer.
balducci
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Quote:
On Feb 14, 2015, stoneunhinged wrote:

BTW: I have Lolita on my reading list, mainly because Magnus Eisengrimm has referred to it as a favorite many times on this forum. But I didn't like Kubrick's Lolita much at all, so I'm guessing the book will win for me on this one.

I read this last summer. It was very different from what I expected. If you do read it, by all means read the annotated version otherwise I'm sure you will miss quite a lot (e.g. that era's popular culture references).

I've yet to view any of the movies based on the book.
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Magnus Eisengrim
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On Feb 14, 2015, TonyB2009 wrote:
Despite his involvement in the desperate drivel of 2001, Kubrick was a very good director. His version of Barry Lyndon was vastly superior to the book. I loved every moment of the film, but the book was boring and a severe disappointment from a normally good writer.


If he had done nothing other than Dr. Strangelove, Kubrick's contribution to film would still be great.
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.--Yeats
ed rhodes
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Quote:
On Feb 14, 2015, stoneunhinged wrote:
Quote:
On Feb 14, 2015, ed rhodes wrote:
Quote:
On Feb 14, 2015, tommy wrote:
I can't really think of one. The Shining maybe.


Oh dear God, no! Kubrick lost almost everything that made those characters live and that made the situation frightening.



Having never read the book, I can neither agree nor disagree. But in general, one aspect of Kubrick's genius was that he re-interpreted very interesting books. He didn't "adapt" them, changing them around to attempt to make them more marketable or more popular with audiences. He absorbed the source material, lived and breathed it, then put his own interpretation on the work as if it were a great piece of art worthy of being turned around to see the different angles and reflections. His version of Clockwork Orange is by no means superior to the book: it is different and profoundly interesting. I think 2001 is actually better than the book. I suspect (again, I haven't read the source material) that Eyes Wide Shut (which he had thought about for years; he had even been considering the material as a screwball comedy--with Steve Martin as the protagonist!) is superior to the novella on which it was based. But does it matter?

If you take the Shining as a film all by itself, it is truly a masterpiece. Maybe the book is a masterpiece, too. But I think one has to consider Kubrick's approach in general before declaring the film simply "inferior".

Thanks for bringing it up, Ed! Thinking about Kubrick is always a pleasure (and provocation).

BTW: I have Lolita on my reading list, mainly because Magnus Eisengrimm has referred to it as a favorite many times on this forum. But I didn't like Kubrick's Lolita much at all, so I'm guessing the book will win for me on this one.


I will acknowledge that he improved A Clockwork Orange which was very hard to follow in the book. (Although he lost the actual point of the story by filming the American version of the book which cut the last chapter out.)

But I went to go see The Shining specifically because it was the Stephen King book (which in fact I HAD read). And as a result, I was very disappointed in what I saw on the screen. Furthermore (as I saw it on opening night) I saw the hospital scene which was later cut. Good. It was just depressing. (And had nothing to do with King's story at all.)

Whether it's a classic movie "on its own" is immaterial to this thread which is comparing movies to their source material and determining whether the movie actually IMPROVED on the source material. Comparing Kubrick's film to King's book tells me that Kubrick failed, miserably.
"There's no time to lose," I heard her say.
"Catch your dreams before they slip away."
"Dying all the time, lose your dreams and you could lose your mind.
Ain't life unkind?"
arthur stead
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I can't think of any movie I've seen which surpassed the book which preceded it. But two obscure films I've seen really did the books justice. The movie Steppenwolf was a fantastic interpretation of the book by Hermann Hesse. And the movie Meetings With Remarkable Men, based on the book by G. I Gurdjieff, also brought the story to life for me.
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landmark
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Yes, I also loved the movie of Steppenwolf!
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