You’ve heard it time and time again, right? “The book was better than the movie.” Those literary types like to talk about how much more engrossing a book is than a movie. However, there are a number of excellent films that have actually come out better than their fictional source material of different book genres. Cinemaphiles can stand tall with these seven movies that were better than the books they wee based on. Take that, you readers!
The short but sweet first novel from Chuck Palahniuk doesn’t seem like it would make a good movie upon first read. But once you get it into the incredibly capable hands of David Fincher, the story took on a life that was never on the novel’s pages, and one that we are all better off for. Brad Pit and Edward Norton also help this to happen as well, with tremendous performances from both men. But it was the darkly comic screenplay that really elevated the spirit of the book to new heights.
The worldwide bestselling book “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” was adapted in both Sweden and America into features, both great and arguably better than the book. The book, while very good, was hampered by its pacing and popular sensibilities. However, like he has done so many times in the past, David Fincher’s most recent version in 2011 is better by leaps and bounds. The man seems to have a talent for visualizing books and helping the author’s vision really grow. It helps that Daniel Craig is always a great hero to get behind, no matter what the subject matter.
A sleeper hit of 2011 starring Ryan Gosling, few people know that “Drive” was originally a sparse and briskly-paced novel by James Sallas. The reason few people know about is because it is not a great book, but planted the seeds for a good movie, as you may have seen for yourself. There will most likely be a sequel, which means Mr. Sallas may have another few stories to pen.
“Let Me In.”
This dark, unique vampire story was first adapted by the Swedish film industry into the Academy Award nominated vampire film “Let the Right One In,” which is subtle and beautiful. Then America did a remake of it’s own, titling it “Let Me In” like the book and making it great in its own right. Both are better than the book, but it’s up for debate which movie is better, though. The Swedish version allows the audience to figure out the subtext and motivation for its characters, while the American movie assumes audiences can’t think for themselves and tends to beat you over the head with plot points.
Originally adapted from the book “Short Timers” by Gustav Hasford, the excellent first act of Kubrick’s brilliant war film is ripped almost directly from the book. However, the sloppy second and third acts of the novel are picked and chosen carefully by Kubrick, who only chooses the really great, powerful moments to include in the film. This, in a way, is the only way to make a good book into a great movie. By distilling the best parts of the book into his script, Kubrick‘s movie ended up being greater than the sum of its material’s parts.
“The Princess Bride.”
Written by William Goldman, the book tells a fun fantasy tale that really doesn’t stand out too much from other novels out there. However, by applying that same style and tone directly to the screen, the film version of “The Princess Bride” makes it one of the best adventure movies ever made. Somehow, that material in the book adapted itself wonderfully to the screen, and the skilled direction of Rob Reiner and some great casting (Andre the Giant, anyone) helped this movie to all-time classic status.
Originally written by excellent modern novelist Irvine Welsh, “Trainspotting” was a great book about heroin junkies and criminals in London in the 90’s. However, when a young unknown director named Danny Boyle got the job to direct the film version of the book, he showed how his skills were on another level entirely, working with a young Ewan McGregor, both of whom would soon become major forces in Hollywood. Long standing as the shining example of filmmaking in the UK, “Trainspotting” is definitely not to be missed.