Can the movie be better than the book?

Or as good? Or even actually add depth or atmosphere to the reading experience?

Interesting article by Richard Parker on this topic, at

“A great screenwriter can create an entirely different entity to the book that still sufficiently addresses the essence of the text.”

Yeah? How often do you think that happens?

I am not actually totally skeptical, because I’ve seen some pretty good adaptations. I loved “The Lord of the Rings” movies! Mostly, anyway. I definitely had some issues with the second movie in particular: what’s all that about having to TRICK the Ents into joining the battle against Saruman? That’s all wrong! But, okay, yes, in general I loved those movies.

But most of the time, a movie makes me want to read the book, but a book doesn’t necessarily set me on fire to see the movie. For example, I thought “The Hunger Games” was just okay, but distinctly inferior to the book, and I may well not bother seeing the other two movies when they come out.

One exception does leap to mind, though. “The Hunt for Red October”? Absolutely no reason to read the book. No. For that one, the movie’s got it all. Plus, hello, Sean Connery. Hard for the book to compete with that!

Anybody got a vote for a movie that didn’t have to depend on Sean Connery to be better than its book?

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5 thoughts on “Can the movie be better than the book?”

  1. I won’t say 2001 is better than the book, but they’re equal.
    I haven’t read Clockwork Orange, but I suspect Kubrick may have scored there as well.
    The Shining?

    Perhaps I would add Kubrick to your Sean Connery exception.

  2. It’s an anime series, not a movie, but I’m in the middle of watching Moribito – Guardian of the Spirit (8 DVDs!). I also started reading the book it is based on at the same time. So far, I’d have to say the series is at least the equal of the book, though the plots seem to have diverged rather sharply.

  3. i loved the look of the LOTR movies, and if I think of them as someone’s take on JRRT’s work, rather like all the various Arthuriana around I like them. But Jackson doesn’t get heroism, so he misses a good part of the essence of the book.

    Movies I like better than the books: Wizard of Oz and Coraline. For the former, the book reads very disjointed and random to me, the movie pulls things together into one story arc. For the second… Gaiman just doesn’t work for me, he reads as thin and bloodless. The movie isn’t either of those.

    Possibly HUNT for RED OCTOBER, but I haven’t actually read the book, just seen the movie, which was really good.

  4. I truly think the movie of The Princess Bride is better than the book, and I actually like the movie of Neil Gaiman’s Stardust better than the book as well (and I AM a big Neil Gaiman fan). I’m planning to read Big Fish soon, but I have a feeling I may prefer that movie to the book too. It DOES happen. :P

    Funnily enough, I finally sat down and watched the first part of The Hobbit last night. I actually never loved the book (and hadn’t read any of the sentimental material they added), but I still found it just okay. Really glad I waited so long and had really lowered expectations going in. Holy pacing issues, Batman.

  5. Okay, granted, The Princess Bride was a really good movie! And I felt the same way about The Hobbit; I didn’t love the book, so I enjoyed the movie even though I didn’t think it was very good. I laughed so hard at the bunny sled, I nearly cried.

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