Booking Through Thursday: Celluloid

1. In your opinion, what is the best translation of a book to a movie?
2. The worst?
3. Had you read the book before seeing the movie, and did that make a difference?

1. Though I am prejudiced on this point, I have to say that the PBS mini-series Anne of Green Gables was one of the best book-to-screen transitions. Just the first one, though; the second and third series were wholly unfaithful to the books.
The A&E production of Emma was wonderful; this too was a mini-series. I prefer mini-series to feature-length films, as there is so much more time to explore characters and plotlines.
The recent Bleak House was also an excellent mini-series, but I haven't read the book and can't comment on the film's faithfulness to it. It did not stop my enjoyment of the series though.

2. Without a doubt, one of the worst book-to-movie translations--and one of the worst movies of all time--is The Scarlet Letter, with Demi Moore. It is not faithful to the book, it completely ruins the ending, and Demi Moore is horribly miscast as Hester Prynne.
Coming in a close second, though, is The Princess Diaries. I read the first two books and loved them. The movies changed the setting and storylines, and they were not good. Even Julie Andrews could not save these films.

3. I generally prefer to read the book before I see the movie. The most recent exceptions to this rule were the Lord of the Rings films. I tried to read the books, but I made it about five pages before I gave up. I did enjoy the movies, though.
Usually I come out of the theater disappointed by the book's transition to screen. Oftentimes, the director does not have the same vision that I do, and that makes it hard for me to really like the movie.


Chris said...

I haven't watched The Scarlett Letter. I have a hard time with Demi Moore as Hester Pryne.

I really liked Bleak House too although I haven't read the book yet.

Faith said...

Oh, gosh, I completely forgot about that horrible Scarlet Letter. My subconscious must have repressed that travesty. And I really like the book, too, which made the liberties taken in the film all the more appalling!

--Deb said...

I didn't include any mini-series in my list because I didn't think it was fair--people making mini-series have the luxury of lots of time and don't have to cut out as much to make a viable film.

That said, I agree that Anne of Green Gables was absolutely wonderful. I even enjoyed the second one, which combined elements of the next three books, but still made it work as a respectful interpretation. The third, though? With Anne heading off to WWI Europe? Um . . . what??

And, if we're talking about mini-series, the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice still makes me swoon...

raidergirl3 said...

I agree, the Anne was very well done, especially the casting.
As for The Scarlet Letter, I searched for the book before the movie came out. Hated the book, so didn't even try for the movie. Actually, I accidentally got the Scarlet Pimpernell book first, and it was terrific. I think that's why The Scarlet Letter seemed so bad in comparison.

Barbara H. said...

I agree completely with what you said about Anne of Green Gables -- I had those on my list as well. I saw a film of Emma but not a mini-series -- will have to look for that! I agree, mini-series do give you more time to explore the plot and characters.

Stephanie said...

Oh yeah...totally forgot about Demi's The Scarlet Letter. That really was a stinker, wasn't it??

Happy Thursday!

Julia said...

Agree with Anne of the Green Gables and Emma. I love them both way -- movie/book. I thought it was done wonderfully. I have seen Scarlet Letter in movie but not the book. But I have heard many things (good and bad) about it.

Great list! It made me think :)

ms. whatsit said...

I never read the book just because the movie is coming out, but I will go see the movie if I liked the book.


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