16 Dec 2010

The good, the bad and the really tragic

My post yesterday about movie adaptions touched a subject that I think most of us feel really strongly about. Most often I like adaptions - if they are good. A good adaption makes me feel like really happy, like I am sharing an understanding with the director and producers. Often it makes me want to read the book again - I do love rereading - and I enjoy the visuals of a good book coming to life. However, a bad movie adaption really really annoys me. Sometimes it even makes me angry. I know many of you fell the same. So for the benefit of ranting here is a list of adaptions that I consider good, bad and seriously tragic.

Good movie adaptions
"Pride and Prejudice"
The BCC adaption. Not technically a movie but a mini series, I defy any Austenite not to love this adaption. Beautifully made with great actors and actresses. Apparently it is also quite historically correct - though I don't remember where I read that - but what seals the deal for me is the scene where Mr. Darcy swims in the lake. Ladies, do you agree?

"Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets"
Great book and great movie adaption. I have read and watched and reread and rewatched book and film so many time. The three little wizards are so cute and play really well and the settings at Hogwarts are magical!

"Fight Club"
Really cool book and really cool movie! Brad Pitt and Edward Norton do a great job and the fighting scenes are very well-made. The movie follows the book and keeps the narrator voice in a way that really works for me.

A modern day (or at least it was modern in the 1990's) interpretation of Austen's Emma. This was my favourite film when I was 13 years old, I loved it!! It is actually a good adaption. It has the wit and the sassiness of the original book and the themes have translated well into the American high school setting - not least thanks to Reese Witherspoon. My favourite memory about this movie is remembering how awestruck my 13-year-old self was that the characters had their own mobile phones!

Bad movie adaptions
"Pride and Prejudice"
The Keira Knightley adaption. Though the acting is great and the actors are very very good at what they do, a lot of things just don't work for me in this film. The settings and visuals are too pretty, too much. As a movie it is beautiful but as an adaption it just doesn't work for me. My personal peeve about this adaption is that while all of the other characters got to wear beautiful dresses, Lizzie/Keira was stuck in grim, brown dresses - I mean, this is not cinderella and just because Lizzie is clever and bright, she doesn't have to wear dowdy dresses!

So Twi-hards, as much as I loved the "New Moon" adaption, the adaption of "Eclipse" is just bad. Bad bad bad. Most of the time, the scenes set outside looks like they were filmed in front of a blue screen and the white make-up on the vampires have been taken a bit too far... Too bad as it could have been great.

This is one of those where I watched the movie - twice - before I read the book. And good thing I did, because I really liked the movie but when I read the book I understood how much better the movie could have been. Definitely a case of movie magic fading compared to the wonderful magic of books!

Seriously tragic adaptions
"Angels and Demons".
Tom Hanks where was your sense when you agreed to do this film? Come on! The book was bad, the adaption of "The DaVinci Code" was horrific but this one beats it all. The adaption of an unbelievable but somewhat thrilling book has been made into a ridiculous film - tedious and at times even painful.

"Cruel Intentions"
This adaption of "Les Liaisons Dangereuses" by Laclos was very popular when I was a teenager. Instead of honouring this classic tale of cruelty and making a costume drama (like Dangerous Liaisons and Valmont), they set the film among a bunch of rich Manhatten teenagers. Bad premise and a rather bad movie - but as an adaption it is seriously tragic.

"Vanity Fair"
All I can say is that I loved Thackeray's book but I couldn't make it all the way through film, it was too tedious.

"Bridget Jones - The Edge of Reason"
I really liked the adaption of "Bridget Jones's Diary" and I looked forward to the sequel. The book was tolerable but the movie adaption was awful. Worse than awful. Not even Colin Firth could save this shipwreck and that tells you something!

These are my opinions - now please tell me yours!


  1. I agree with Angels & Demons and The DaVinci Code. I know there are others I haven't liked, but my mind is coming up blank at the moment.

  2. I've never read Pride and Prejudice and haven't seen any of the adaptations so couldn't comment on these. I love the film Stardust but have yet to read the book. As for The Da Vinci Code, I was so bitterly disappointed with this but thought a slightly better job had been done with Angels And Demons.

    Only two books spring to mine where I thought the film versions were better than the books - The Colour Purple and Captain Correlli's Mandalin.

  3. Yvonne, I think most people agree with the issues with Angels and Demons.

    Petty Witter, you have to read Pride and Prejudice. Please please please. I promise you that you will enjoy it! And the BBC adaption is a masterpiece. I haven't seen the ones you mention but will give them a try.

  4. I agree with your evaluation of the two Pride and Prejudice movies. The dresses bothered me in the Keira Knightly movie, too.

  5. "Bridget Jones - The Edge of Reason" - It was just painful to watch. I think that with many of your choices you're completely right about the movie becoming pale in comparison with the book. I felt that way about Stardust too.

  6. About Stardust - I watched the movie first too but had the complete opposite reaction to you. Loved the movie, so when I read the book I felt the movie was better.

    And Angels and Demons - it's so bad it's good!

  7. Oh the BBC P&P is the best. I love that one. One of my favorite adaptations is Remains of the Day. Have you seen it and/or read the book? High recommended.

    Totally agree with you on the sequel to Bridget Jones. Ugh. That was awful. I almost felt bad for the actors that they had to endure that one!

  8. Thanks for all your comments!

    I couldn't agree more with your guys about the BBC P&P, it is so gorgeous.

    And the BJ sequel... i mean, what happened? Such a trainwreck.