In the hope of reaching out to a wider audience, filmmakers always consider translating literary work onto celluloid. Given that it is not a very easy thing to do, screenwriters often have to change the details of a book somewhat – be it in terms of scenes, subplots or characters.
Paring down elements is done for various reasons. One of course, is the fact that films and novels, as means of storytelling, are different from each other. The other reason could be time constraint. It is indeed the translation from written work to a visual medium that can be a testament to everything that can go wrong or brilliantly right.
We have put together a list of five film adaptations that differ from their literary counterparts.
Jurassic Park (1993)
This 1993 Steven Spielberg-film is based on a 1990 novel of the same name. Apparently, the movie rights were being fought over before the book was even published. However, once acquired, the storyline wasn't adhered to.
Dr. Grant and Dr. Sattler have a mentor/student relationship in the book, while they are involved romantically in the movie. One of the other differences is the fact that in the novel, the suspicion that several dinosaurs are breeding is made when Malcolm questions an apparent increase in population as displayed on one of the computers. In the film, however, Grant first discovers this when he comes across a nest of hatched eggs while he is stranded in the park with the kids.
The Bourne Identity (2002)
The 1980 novel by Robert Ludlum was made into a film starring Matt Damon in 2002. The movie sticks to some of the plot points, as in the book. However, it tends to miss out on a few elements. For example, Jason Bourne’s innocence is proven throughout in the book, but the movie seems to allude to the fact that he’s not innocent, because he acts like an assassin. His love interest is so much more instrumental in the book, as opposed to someone he is just dragging along in the movie. Moreover, she is French-Canadian and well off in the novel and is German and broke in the movie.
Forrest Gump (1994)
The novel and the movie have few similarities when it comes to the plot. Some of these include Forrest going to college before serving in the Vietnam War and the fact that he played ping-pong in China. But this is where the similarities end. The novel has instances where Forrest interacts with historical figures, but they are different than the ones in the film.
Vertigo, which is one of Alfred Hitchcock's most revered films, is actually based on a French novel titled D'entre les morts (from Among the Dead) by Boileau-Narcejac. The book underscores a belief that humanity as a whole isn’t worth saving, and that existence itself destroys us. Hitchcock must have liked what he read as he kept a great deal, from most of the plot and its two-act structure to Madeleine’s gray dress, necklace and hair style. There are however, a few differences too.
The protagonist, played by James Stewart, is a fairly dark and troubled individual who considers himself good. In the novel, the character is so much more self-centered. The most radical difference was in the timing of the revelation of Madeline's identity: in the novel, there is a surprise twist at the end, while in Hitchcock's film, that twist is revealed at the beginning of the film's second part.
Gulliver's Travels (2010)
Based on Jonathan Swift's classic of the same name, Gulliver's Travels starring Jack Black released in 2010. The film deviates from its source at some points. Gulliver, who is portrayed as an intelligent explorer in the novel, is a goofy nerd in the film. One of the other differences is the fact that the novel ends with Gulliver realizing how inferior human beings are. The movie, on the other hand, ends with the realization that a big heart is all that matters.