Tuesday, August 28, 2007

More on the Book vs. Movie Thing

When I posted on whether to read the book or see the movie version of a story first, several people left comments that made me think about this more. Most agreed with me that they don't enjoy seeing a movie after they've read the book, but some mentioned rare exceptions when the movie was actually better.

I recall two occasions when I found a movie version to be an improvement over the book. And the winners are: Somewhere in Time and Jurassic Park. Somewhere in Time started out as a book by Richard Matheson called Bid Time Return. I thought the movie was more thought-provoking and had a richer story. Interestingly, Matheson also wrote the screenplay. It almost felt as though the novel was the first draft, and he'd given more thought to it all by the time he did the movie. Of course, that haunting John Barry soundtrack for the film didn't hurt.

In the case of Jurassic Park, I flew through the Michael Crichton novel because of the premise and the adrenaline-pumping action. However, I found almost all of the characters to be obnoxious and couldn't connect with any of them. I'm ashamed to admit that in one scene I thought the two children had lost a fight to a dinosaur, and I was actually disappointed to find they had survived and I had to keep reading their irritatingly precocious dialogue. In the movie, however, the characters were transformed. I adored Sam Neill's absent-minded professor and Jeff Goldblum's eccentric charm. Even the kids were bearable.

Oh, and Pattie commented that she didn't like the book The Nanny Diaries because it left her feeling sad. I thoroughly agree. The ending disturbed me. Hence the table-pounding as I told my sister and niece about it the next day. The movie version doctored the ending, and I've given a lot of thought to how I felt about it. On the one hand, I certainly felt better and more uplifted coming out of the movie. On the other hand, the happy ending robbed the story of its power, and was far less realistic. So which is better? Hard-hitting and realistic, or uplifting?