What Movie Was Better Than The Book?

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Paul Whybrow

Full Member
Jun 20, 2015
Cornwall, UK
I write my stories in a cinematographic way. I imagine how they’d look on the screen.

In the lockdown, I’ve been reading paperbacks acquired at the charity shop. This has included re-reading classics, which I first read forty years ago. When I saw this article in my BuzzFeed newsletter this morning, I was surprised that two titles weren’t included:

17 Movies That People Swear Are Actually Better Than The Books They Were Based On

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad spawned the film Apocalypse Now. It’s an appropriately titled book, being intensely gloomy to read. It’s so stygian, that I can only manage a few pages at a time. Apocalypse Now isn’t a laugh a minute, but it’s more palatable.

The other classic I read, that’s notably different to the film adaptations is Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. I like Stevenson as a writer, but the 88 pages of this novella crawl along in a disjointed and rather tedious way. It’s nothing like you’d expect if you come to it from seeing any of the movies. I’ve been more frightened reading wallpaper catalogues!


At present, I’m stalled on finishing reading two highly praised novels. I reached a point about halfway through, realising that I didn’t much care what happened to any of the characters, even though the authors were skilfully foreshadowing surprises to come. Zadie Smith’s On Beauty and Rachel Joyce’s The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry have failed to grab my attention.

I wonder if they’ll be turned into films or television series. Will I want to watch them, if I couldn’t finish reading the book?

Sometimes, books are superbly adapted, such as the BBC One/HBO version of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, which equalled the malice and tension of the source material.


We had a look at film adaptations eight months ago, but we have many more members since then, so I thought I’d reanimate the topic.

Which film versions of famous books do you prefer?

Can you think of any titles that are ripe to be filmed?

So it's a weird thing, but I have a theory that every movie starring Anne Hathaway is better than the book. This is not a comment on the awesomeness or lack thereof of that particular actress. It's just a correlation I've noticed.

The Princess Diaries: could not get into those books at all but watched the movie over and over
Ella Enchanted: This is a controversial one, I know those who read the book first often despise the movie. But I saw the movie first and although I enjoyed the book, I felt the movie had more depth and ideas
There was one more but I forgot :rolling-on-the-floor-laughing:
After enjoying The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society I tried the book, but gave up after the first few letters. It wasn't a style of writing I wanted to labour with, though others may disagree.
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