If book people were going to pick a mantra, a good candidate would be, “the book is always better than the movie.” Except that’s not true. There are some books that provided a style, a plot line, or an atmosphere, but that were executed in a more interesting, unpredictable, or entertaining way on screen. While it might seem sacrilegious to my fellow readers, I present without apology my selections of movies that were better than the books:
1. Fight Club. While both the movie and the book screamed NIHILISM FOR TEENAGERS, Edward Norton’s narrator was a million times more believable than the narrator in the book. And Brad Pitt! Look at him go! Helena Bonham Carter took a pretty flat character from the book and fleshed her out in a great way.
2. Jaws. The book was about a killer fish. The movie was about a killer fish that infested your dreams and kept you out of the ocean for the entirety of your 20s, and also made listening to the cello a little…creepy.
3. Little Women. I know, I know. How could I. But the book is so saccharine. It’s a million-little-pink-packets-of-Sweet-N-Low more saccharine than the movie. The movie version removes some of the gag-me sweeter elements, and adds Christian Bale. Win.
4. The Princess Bride. The book is funny, but it’s a brand of dead-pan humor that I think translates better when you can see the person’s face. The movie is so much funnier, mostly because of Billy Crystal. G’BYE BOYS! HAVE FUN STORMING THE CASTLE!
5. The Help. The novel got a lot of flack for being condescending toward the black characters, which I didn’t notice while reading it, but can see in retrospect. But inject Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer into the mix, and there’s no amount of dialect that could take away the dignity of those characters. They gave the movie more gravitas than the book- which, considering the subject matter, was needed.
And here are a few more movies that are better than their novel counterparts, according to Twitter:
Fried Green Tomatoes — @komcnees and several others
Wizard of Oz — @teacherman82
The English Patient — @Tikabelle
Blade Runner — @craigtimes
The Secret Life of Bees — @teacherman82
Slumdog Millionaire — @MadGeekGril
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close — @MsNicWCCS
Godfather — @readingape and others
What Dreams May Come — @lisaeckstein
The Devil Wears Prada — @SadieDavidson_
Did we miss any?