Saturday, March 18, 2006

Better Than the Book

While regaling us with his reasons why Brokeback Mountain wasn't the best movie of the year, Yahmdallah brings up the frequent observation that movies are never superior to their source material. Now this is just the sort of thing that Eudoxus and I like to discuss on those hot summer Texas evenings when you're waiting for the temperature to drop below ninety so you can turn off the AC and go to bed, and so I come prepared with some possible exceptions to the rule.

The Godfather (I & II): E. and I agree on this one. Puzo's novel just isn't as good.

The Shining: This was E.'s candidate; I haven't read the book. Having finished all the Stephen King I needed to read back in high school, I'm not planning to, either. Garrison Keillor, in one of his recent funny moments, observed that the standard King plot is Family Goes on Vacation, Gets Eaten by Paper Towel Dispenser. Read one, read 'em all.

Dracula: I pull out and wave about my credentials on this one; having read (before dropping out of grad school) everything Mrs. Radcliffe ever wrote, as well as Vathek, The Monk, and every other important and semi-important gothic novel written, I can say with professional certainty that Dracula isn't that good. People like it now because they read back in all the post-Stoker vampirinalia that permeates popular culture. But the Bela Lugosi movie is classic.

Any other suggestions for movies better than the book (or story) that spawned them? Also: what movie sequels were better than the originals?


Anonymous amy said...

The Black Stallion gets my vote. Walter Farley's book is just a children's novel; Francis Ford Coppola's film is a beautiful work of art - probably my favorite movie ever.

5:30 AM  
Anonymous yahmdallah said...

I'll agree with "Dracula", but I dissent on "The Shining." The novel is one of the scariest things I've ever read, and while the movie is good, the book is still better and filled with more chills than the movie.

I've not, nor will I, read "The Godfather." So I'll take your word for it. Did you know that Puzo wrote the novel in conjunction with Coppola making the movie? Coppola optioned it before it was done, and they collaborated to write the script. So it's interesting that the movie is better than the book since the author wrote both during filming.

Which brings us to the synchronicity here, both films that were better than the book (that we agree upon) were directed by Coppola.

And, btw, Carroll Ballard directed "The Black Stallion." However, Coppola was executive producer, and perhaps he had as much influence on it as Spielberg had on Tobe Hooper's "Poltergeist."

10:50 AM  
Blogger The Opinionated Homeschooler said...

I didn't know that about The Godfather. That might fit the book into the ironclad rule that no book based on a movie is ever any good whatsoever.

7:33 AM  
Blogger The Opinionated Homeschooler said...

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7:33 AM  

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