With tomorrow’s airing of the Diana Gabaldon series Outlander, I started thinking about what I consider good vs. bad movie adaptations of books. If I love a book, sometimes I dread watching the movie because it might not live up to my expectations. I, of course, was not disappointed by The Godfather or Gone With the Wind, two great adaptations that come to mind. I rarely watch the movie version before reading the book; I don’t want to ruin the reading experience, which is more important to me. However, last year I read The Perks of Being a Wallflower after watching and loving the movie. I have to say, the book didn’t pack the strong emotional impact of the movie.
Some of the worst adaptations are old movies. Both The Foxes of Harrow and Valley of Decision (I watch a lot of Turner Classic Movies) are poor adaptations of the books, though not bad movies on their own. (Though I still prefer the 1945 version of Mildred Pierce over the more recent televised version, even though it wasn’t faithful to the book.) Perhaps in present day, movie producers tend to be more faithful to the source work so as not to disappoint the expectations of the book’s fans.
Some of my favorite movie adaptations are: Shutter Island, The Silence of the Lambs, the Harry Potter series, The Exorcist. (I do hope that Outlander will join that list because it’s based on one of my all-time favorite novels.)
Worst adaptation: I choose The Shining; again, not a bad movie on its own, but not nearly as good as the book. It really lost me at the Heeeeere’s Johnny scene. I just cracked up.