the book is always better

Posted by Jessica on February 26, 2008
The Hollywood machine is known for sticking to sure bets, at the expense of original material. Sunday's 80th Annual Oscar Awards ceremony was no exception. The list of nominees was brimming with films based on books. Best Picture winner No Country for Old Men owes its gripping story to Cormac McCarthy, although it must be said that the Coen brothers did execute that story brilliantly. Even There Will Be Blood, with true auteur Paul Thomas Anderson at the helm, used Upton Sinclair as a jumping off point. Others in debt to their source material include Atonement, The Golden Compass, The Bourne Ultimatum, The Kite Runner, and Gone, Baby, Gone.

Writers take heart. The nominees for Best Original Screenplay ranged from popular hits like Ratatouille and Juno to quiet, rich indies like Lars and the Real Girl and The Savages. But for each of these, you could find about three other nominated films based on previously published material. To be fair, some of these films justified their existence by truly enriching their written counterparts with visual feasts. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is a worthy companion to the book written by Jean-Dominique Bauby (a truly amazing feat of writing while paralyzed).

I confess I don't always stick to my personal rule: "read the book before seeing the movie." But maybe I don't have to worry. Inevitably, these films simply attract more readers! Additionally, I have better hopes for filmmakers creating visual art with help from the imaginations of gifted writers such as Ian McEwan and Khaled Hosseini, than from other tricks up Hollywood's sleeve. The Pirates of the Caribbean franchise is based on a theme-park ride, Transformers is based on a toy, and (brace yourselves) Monopoly the Movie will be coming soon. The book may always be better (notable exception, The Devil Wears Prada -- thank you, Meryl Streep), but that doesn't mean we can't enjoy the movie magic that happens while watching a wonderful adaptation.

Discuss your favorite movies/books on Goodreads here or here, or start your own group!

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message 1: by Chris (last edited Mar 01, 2008 03:05AM) (new)

Chris I hate, hate, hate the lack of creativity in Hollywood these days.

Nothing exists in one form any more. Every book needs to be adapted into a movie, every movie needs a series of books to go with it. Why can't someone just make a great original IP, and then leave it without spoiling it by over-exposing it in every conceivable marketplace?

Did you know there's a Lord Of The Rings: The Musical running in London right now?

Did you know that next season LA Opera will be doing "The Fly: The Opera?"

Did you know there's a series of books based on Halo, the video game?

Did you know there's an Edward Scissorhands ballet?

Soon we're going to have Step It Up: The Video Game and Guitar Hero: The Musical.

And not only that, but I hate how Hollywood continually pillages its own movie franchises to make a buck. Think on all the sequels and remakes that came out last year: Live Free and Die Hard, Oceans Thirteen, Fantastic Four 2, Spiderman 3, Shrek 3, Pirates Of The Caribbean 3, Bourne Ultimatum.....argh.

And what's driving all this? MONEY and LACK OF WILLINGNESS TO TAKE CREATIVE CHANCES.


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