Which is Best - Book or Film?

by Grace Elliott

             Dusting down my book stash I came across two TBR books that have recently been made into movies and they set me thinking…. 

            As a teenager I vividly remember getting swept up by the 1973 film ‘The Three Musketeers – The Queen’s Diamonds.’ Starring Oliver Reed and a young Michael York. It transported me to a world of romance and adventure that I ached to be a part of. To prolong the experience I then read the novel by Alexandre Dumas – and loved every word and searched out his other books. I owe a debt of gratitude to that movie because through it I discovered a truly timeless author in Dumas.

            On the whole, I find film adaptations of Jane 
Austen novels disappointing. Her books are so engrossing, once you get past the slightly dated language, I find myself willing the characters on. However the only Jane Austen movie I managed to sit through was the 1995 version of ‘Sense and Sensibility’, mainly because Alan Rickman was just so perfect as the emotionally constipated Colonel Brandon… And there’s the rub. If the casting doesn’t match my visualization from the book – it’s over before it begins.

            So does that mean it’s best to see the film first…? No. For the simple reason that some films as such poor adaptations, you’d never give the book a second thought. In my opinion ‘Dune,’ is a classic example. Loved the Frank Herbert book; Quote ‘Fear is the real mind killer,’ (shiver), but the film was a total disaster, missing all the psychological tension.

The Harry Potter series can be argued both ways. I love the films, but in their own right. If you want the detail and beautiful nuance of the characters then it must be the books every time – just too much sheer crafting gone into those many pages to be translated onto the screen.
So what do you think? Do you cross pollinate between page and screen? What are your best and worst experiences? I’d love to know…

Grace Elliot’s sensuous historical romance,
‘A Dead Man’s Debt,’ is now available from Solstice Publishing
Or see www.graceelliot-webs.com for more details.

A Dead Man's Debt

A story of blackmail, duty and an unexpected love…

After deliberately humiliating a suitor, Celeste’s despairing parents exile her to the country. But once there she discovers a sketch book of daring nude studies and is shaken to find the artist is her hostess’s eldest son, Lord Ranulf Charing. This darkly cynical lord is exactly the sort of dissipated rogue she despises most…if only her blood didn’t heat at the thought of him…
Nothing is as it seems. Lord Ranulf’s life is a façade. Only he can save the Charing’s from disgrace as a blackmailer tries to ruin his late brother’s reputation. But just as Ranulf dares to open his heart to Celeste, the fury of his nemesis is unleashed… facing him with the stark choice between true love and  duty. However when Celeste guesses the truth behind his rejection, Ranulf underestimates her resolve to clear his name and places the woman he loves in mortal danger….

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November 20, 2010 at 8:24 AM

I enjoy watching movies based on books, but I still tend to prefer the original novels. It's great when a movie is faithful to the book, but I've enjoyed some movies that have taken liberties with original stories. I agree about the Harry Potter movies. They're very good, but the books are better and more involved. I'm a big fan of the original Phantom of the Opera novel by Gaston Leroux and have never seen the story done in another medium that I like as much as the book. The one I think follows it most faithfully is the black and white version with Lon Chaney. Another book I love is Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, but in general the movies I've seen haven't been very true to the original story. I did love the 2004 miniseries with Luke Goss as the Creature and Alec Newman as Victor Frankenstein. It was the closest I've seen to the original novel and I loved the portrayal of the Creature. I love Dumas' books too. If a movie is made about one of his stories, I'll see it, even though I prefer his original novels. I've really enjoyed some adaptations of Dumas' stories, even if they're not completely true to the books.

November 20, 2010 at 3:04 PM

Oh Kate - The Phantom of the Opera - I made the mistake of trying to read the novel when sick with a tummy bug. Sadly, I only got through a few pages because I felt to so ill and now I just associate the book with feeling nauseous! Funny how some things work.
Grace x

November 20, 2010 at 3:16 PM

LOL! Stomach flu can ruin just about anything, Grace. :-)

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