One of the beliefs that many book lovers have is that films can never do justice to the books they are based on. Well, while that IS the case more often than not (we are still recovering from John Carter), some film adaptations of books have managed to be actually better. Here’s our look at seven such films that did not just do justice to the books they were adapted from, but actually outdid them in terms of impact:
1. Gone With the Wind
Yes, we are huge fans of Margaret Mitchell’s Civil War epic, but we cannot help but feel that the film got our pulses racing more often than the book did. And well, the wise cracking, blow-hot-blow-cold romance between Scarlett O’Hara (Vivien Leigh) and Rhett Butler (Clark Gable) is so much better on the silver screen.
2. Schindler’s List
Thomas Keneally’s Schindler’s Ark was a decent read, and a very disturbing one. But it was not half as stunning and stark as Spielberg’s take on it. Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes shone as the industrialist trying to save Jews and the sadistic Nazi trying to eliminate them during the second World War.
It tells you a whole lot about how good the film was, or how far literary standards have declined, that for most people today, Ben-Hur is actually the stunning visual spectacle delivered by William Wyler, rather than a literary work by Lew Wallace. While the latter is entertaining enough, it is not a patch on the film in terms of sheer impact. Charlton Heston and THAT chariot race!
4. The Godfather
You can almost feel bad for Mario Puzo here. The Godfather is by no means a bad book, but put it up against its screen avatar and the likes of Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, Diane Keaton, Robert Duvall and Robert de Niro, and it starts looking very ragged indeed. Italian gangsters never looked more classy.
5. The Lord of the Rings trilogy
We can hear the supporters of JRR Tolkien going up in arms at our suggestion that Peter Jackson’s rendition of his epic surpassed its literary avatar, but we do feel it did. There were more thrills, more drama and the action was nothing short of phenomenal. We were also spared a lot of the singing that is a staple feature of the book.
When George Jonas wrote Vengeance: The True Story of an Israeli Counter Terrorist Team in 1984, we are not too sure that he would have imagined that Steven Spielberg would be making a film based on it starring Eric Bana and Daniel Craig two decades later. Well, he did. And it came out so much better than the book had.
Read Peter Benchley’s book and while you would feel the odd shiver traverse your spine as you encounter the shark butchering swimmers. See Steven Spielberg’s film based on the book and you will not feel like stepping into the water for a month. The film addd a whole new dimension to the horror genre and remains a much deeper experience than Benchley’s book was.