There is always one, and it’s always me. I’m the one who scoffs in the face of film adaptations and heartily asserts the line that is the bane of #filmtwitter‘s very existence…”pftttt…the book was so much better than the film”. I know it’s annoying, and I know it makes me sound like an ass but even I, the most avid defender of the written word must concede some ground. Sometimes, sometimes, those movie bods nail it. Let’s flip-reverse my age old adage and hit play on a roundup of some* films that are as good as…if not better…than the books upon which they are based.
*SOME! This could well have turned into an anthology series so I have really whittled down the list. Peter Jackson’s LotR adaptations are good, but not Tolkein. Harry, Ron, Hermione and co. are better characters in the books. Stephen King is my favourite writer and The Shining movie is about 45 minutes too long. Good carpet, tho.
It’s my favourite film of all time, so of course we are kicking of the list with Jurassic Park. I’m biased, sue me. Written in 1990, it only took 3 years for Steven Spielberg to get his hands on the movie rights to Michael Crichton’s cautionary sci-fi tale. A much darker ending and a few different deaths separate the book from the film, but not to the detriment of either. However, with Spielberg’s adaptation, we got industry changing animatronics, one of the most iconic movie scores of all time from John WIlliams, and Jeff Goldblum’s iconic lounging…well, there it is.
The Princess Bride
William Goldman’s classic love story came out in print in 1973 and swashbuckled its way onto screens and into our hearts in 1987. As tongue-in-cheek as its literary counterpart (the novel is presented to readers as “the good parts” – an abridged version of a story by an S. Morgenstern, rife with asides and commentary from Goldman), Rob Reiner’s The Princess Bride became a cult classic. Required viewing for anyone who loves love and sarcasm and required reading for everyone everywhere, it was utterly inconceivable to not have this on the list.
Another one of my all time faves in the film arena. Harrison Ford donned the mantle of Rick Deckard in 1982, fourteen years after Philip K. Dick’s now oft overshadowed book was published. Deckard’s job as a typical grizzly cop is to “retire” (read: kill) replicants – engineered, synthetic humans gone bad. Admittedly with fewer goats and toads than its source material, Blade Runner is a sci-fi classic. Bathe any dystopia in neon and I’m there. While Harrison Ford may not list Blade Runner among his favourite films, I know many others who certainly do.
I can’t take credit for this one, annoyingly – that all goes to my fella. Irvine Welsh’s 1993 debut novel is a collection of short stories written in variations of Scottish and British dialects (which can be head-wrecking to read, I’ll admit) about a group of heroin addicts in Edinburgh. Danny Boyle’s film three years later was met with critical acclaim and did wonder’s for Welsh’s book sales. Trainspotting is a bastion of British film making and a bona fide gritty, dirty, cult classic. Good shout, babe.
At this point, I took to Twitter to get some more input on which films deserve a mention…
The Silence of the Lambs
Get me some fava beans and a nice Chianti because Joel & Ditto absolutely nailed this one. Thomas Harris’s sequel to Red Dragon was published in 1988, and in 1991 the world met Dr Lecter and Clarice Starling on screen for the first time. A sleeper hit, The Silence of the Lambs has its place now firmly cemented as a cinematic classic and masterpiece. Also, I think we all learned a lot about ourselves thanks to Jodie Foster in that film.
Christian only went and hit us with a double whammy. Chuck Palahniuk’s 1996 novel originally performed better critically than its 1999 film adaptation, but Fincher’s classic movie gained a huge cult following thanks to his signature style and atmosphere. Another sleeper hit for the ages, Fight Club went from splitting critics to becoming one of the most iconic cult films of a generation. But we don’t talk about it, right?
Peter Benchley’s 1974 thriller was hugely popular, and the film rights were snapped up before it was even published. Admittedly, a lot of the nuanced sub-plots of the book are omitted in the 1975 film in favour of more shark-based action, but it is impossible to stay mad at that. Widely accepted as once of the best films ever made as well being as defining moment in the history of cinema and the OG blockbuster, Jaws literally redefined an entire species. It also gave us a whole new genre just for shark films. Just don’t go back in the water…
Interview with the Vampire
My little goth heart couldn’t ignore this fang-tastic suggestion from Sharon (who also makes some valid Potter points, it must be said). In 1976 Anne Rice published her debut novel which eighteen years later waltzed onto our screens in all its new romantic glory. You can forgive the differences between the two versions as you get lost in the ruffles and wigs as Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt saunter about broodily, followed by a very curly Kirsten Dunst. Neil Jordan’s Interview with the Vampire reminded us all that vampires are so hot that we even became a bit attracted to Tom Cruise.
NewtypeUK gave us a heck of a finisher, here. You’d be forgiven for forgetting about Robert Bloch’s 1959 thriller in lieu of Hitchcock’s 1960 classic. Norman Bates and Marion Crane (Mary, in the book) slashed their way into cinema history with Psycho. Hitchcock changed the face of violence in American cinema with Psycho, redefining and creating boundaries as he did so (as well as being credited with the dawn of slasher films).
Well…I think we can all agree that went on for longer than we planned, and we didn’t even cover all the bases. So, for once in my life, I might put down what I am reading, and reach for the remote instead. Don’t tell anyone though.
Supporting the Valks
If you would like to support the site you can join our Patreon here: https://www.patreon.com/thevalkyries
If you don’t want to join up but want to support us, you can donate via Kofi here: https://ko-fi.com/I2I6FUC7