I don’t agree with most of these…yes, there’s some low hanging fruit here: Carrie; Jaws; Forrest Gump.
But to say the film versions of LA Confedential & High Fidelity are better than the books is just plain silly. And Boulle’s MONKEY PLANET is infinitely more frightening & ironic than Planet of the Apes (which, of course, I enjoyed, but better than the book? no way!)
Two novels I majorly preferred the film over are The Shining and The Piano Teacher.
Funnily enough I’ve read almost none of the novels on which the Huffington Post film list is based – except Fight Club and I think I agree that the film is better – largely because it was so well directed. Palahniuk’s book is precisely one of those novels that feels as if it’s too complex and interior to translate well onto the screen yet Fincher has the imagination and insight to do it.
I have not read the novel of LA Confidential but I think the film is excellent. Aesthetically very well put together, a real neo-noir.
I liked the Ice Storm film a great deal more than the novel. I liked that the film was just a single slice of time in life, where the novel had backstory and alluded to the future. I also liked that the film was not spelled out, it never told us what to think or feel, where some of the details in the novel push us in a certain direction about how to feel.
High Fidelity and Fight Club I’m split on, I enjoyed both films and both novels a great deal, both for different reasons.
@ Ana, L.A. Confidential has to be one of the best adaptations ever because it was completley different from the book, had it been fully faithfull it would have been four hours long and in black and white.
I forget you said but they claimed that in order to adapt a book you had to read it, take notes, throw the book in the bin and write something different. Case example; Sideways – one of my favourite films, the books crap though.
The 1947 adaptation of Steinbeck’s The Pearl. Both the book and the movie were were awful, but at least the movie was more interesting than the book.
Fight Club, LA Confidential and High Fidelity were all great books. They don’t belong on this list. Never read Carrie, so I can’t rule on that one.
Two obvious choices: The Godfather and Goodfellas.
Oh god, I hated both films of The Pearl. I was a fan of the book a couple years back, so I rented both the 1947 version, and the 2003 version. The new one was far worse, but the old one was also awful.
I agree on the Shining too. I would add 2001. Although the book may explain what is going on, I like it as a movie better because it allows for different interpretations of what the film is about. Kubrick didn’t want to say what the film was about, but rather left it up to the audience.
Boy, I sure can get through Cronenberg’s NAKED LUNCH, but the Burroughs (though radically different) is another story….
I agree with you on the book, for I have not seen Cronenberg’s film of it. I slowly stopped reading around the 6th chapter.
Yup. Can’t make it past 30 pages. Nor could I really tell you anything of merit about those 30 pages that I’ve read and reread. Suspect that if I took the author’s advice and opened and read at random, I’d feel the same about whatever 30 pages I made it through then.
DEFINITELY agree on ‘Jaws’, ‘Carrie’, and ‘Fight Club’. I’d also include ‘Psycho’, ‘The Shining’, ‘About Schmidt’, and ‘American Psycho’
I thought L.A. Confidential the book was rather dull but the film was terrific.
@ Daniel: interesting theory – about reading book, etc and then throwing everything away and doing something different.
My top 2 novel and film combos where I felt both the novels and films were equally brilliant in different ways are Heart of Darkness (Conrad) / Apocalypse Now (Coppola) and Clockwork Orange (Burgess & then Kubrick). Coppola ‘rewrote’ the novel, getting at the very heart of darkness in an entirely different – but remarkably parallel – context. Kubrick used Beethoven’s music to the same effect as Burgess’s use of the lingo of Alex and his droogs.
Oh yes, and also Birdy (Wharton’s novel, directed by Alan Parker) – a novel I thought was unfilmable – because it all takes place in the guy’s head where he adopts the persona of a canary (!). Yet Parker did an excellent job of conveying core ideas through some rewriting and working suggestively and evocatively within a realist paradigm.
I’d love to know more about the processes those directors went through in shifting between the novel and the screen. I wonder at what point they ‘threw the book in the bin’ and went their own way…? Or how they would describe their approach to the book’s (non)centrality…?
ANA… I think you on to something. I love Apocalypse Now but it’s hard to say it’s better than the book… it’s just a different beast. I feel this way about many of the adaptations of Jim Thompson’s work. Almost all of his books produced great films but they all strayed a lot from the source material.
But off the top of my head I would say I enjoyed “After Dark, My Sweet” and “English Patient” more.
Election, The Third Man, Dolores Claiborne, Die Hard, Battle Royale, Adaptation, Shoot the Piano Player.
To Have and Have Not certainly. I tried reading Rebecca awhile back. I definitely prefer the Hitch version. The Hawls version of The Big Sleep as well.
THIS ISLAND EARTH: the 1955 movie was better than the book.
Fight Club has been brought up more than once, but I’d simply like to note that on the DVD commentary, Palahniuk admits that even he thinks the film beats the book!
I had no idea Die Hard was based on a movie. Whaddya know.
The novel American Psycho was a masterpiece. The movie was fun, but better? No.
@ Miasma – very big of Palahniuk to admit that! He’s right, I think.
Another film based on a book that I think is an fantastic film is The Talented Mr Ripley. I’ve just bought the book to check out how it compares but am fully expecting that it doesn’t rise to the film’s great heights. Matt Damon’s performance is chillingly brilliant and Jude Law was perfectly cast – as were all the rest, I believe. Actually, I think I’ll watch it again soon. Book first though…
I seem to avoid watching film adaptation of books after I’ve read them (in recent times at least). I’ve got a feeling the Revolutionary Road and the latest Picture of Dorian Gray adaptations would be massive let downs.
Bret Easton Ellis books haven’t impressed me so much in the past but I got to read American Psycho.
The classic example is “Double Indemnity.” The film is much better than the book, whereas the book of “The Postman Always Rings Twice” is arguably better than any of the versions filmed.
Fight Club is a far better film than book, the book is good, but it’s perfect film material. Chuck Palahniuk has written some great books though, Choke, Invisible Monsters etc, Choke incidentally made a pretty good film aswell.
The Color Purple and Forrest Gump. Way better than the books. Zemekis should’ve stayed closer to the book, however. Then, maybe, it would’ve deserved Best Picture.
I disagree with “American Psycho.” I feel that the movie pulls it’s punches and just crams portions of the best elements of the book into a couple hours of craziness. Gaspar Noe should’ve made that movie.