Literature and films have had an indispensable relationship for more than a century. The process of adapting a book into a movie is a dicey task, for the consequences can vary. Drafting a novel and drafting a screenplay require different techniques. The book market has many niches and there are only selective books that can be used for cinematic purposes. If the book is justifiably adaptable, there is the humongous challenge of doing justice to the book. Sometimes, the plot and dialogues are heavily borrowed from the book while others involve significant changes to the original plot for a better cinematic experience. Let us take a look at a few movies that have fared better than the books and vice versa.
The Ones When the Movies Impressed
While it’s not uncommon for Bengali film-makers to turn to Rabindranath Tagore’s works for a movie adaptation, it was quite a risk that Rituparno Ghosh took when he chose to make a movie on Noukadubi, a mediocre novel. And he nailed it! This became one of the most nuanced films he ever made. There is little in the film to find fault with. Riya Sen, Raima Sen, Prosenjit Chatterjee, Jishu Sengupta excel in their performances as the four main characters whose lives intertwine. The music and the plot has been so cohesively put together that it is difficult to distract you from the movie at any instant.
The Japanese Wife
If adapting a novel into a movie is a tough job, adapting a short story is no easy feat either. But when it’s Aparna Sen, the more impossible it seems, the better. The film has been so beautifully adapted from the story that one can’t help but be moved by it. Be it the simplicity and innocence of Snehmoy and Miyage or the romantic build up through exchange of letters or the hapless but attractive widow Sandhya, every element in the film works amazingly well.
John Grisham is definitely the master of law-based thrillers. But you have to hand it out to Sydney Pollack and screenwriters David Rabe, Robert Towne and David Rayfiel for the movie rendition of this novel. The movie, The Firm keeps you gripped to your seat till the very end. The performances by Tom Cruise, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Gene Hackman and Ed Harris are nothing short of excellent. If the book was good, the movie was spellbinding.
Madame Doubtfire was a funny read; Mrs. Doubtfire was at a whole other level altogether. When you have Robin Williams, Pierce Brosnan and Sally Field doubled with an incredible script, how can you not expect the best?
The Times When the Books Scored Higher
When you have a talent powerhouse in the form of Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, Diane Keaton, Robert Duvall, James Caan and Alex Rocco, the result can only be excellent. Even though the movie The Godfather was very well made, received rave reviews and a fan following of millions, going back to the Mario Puzo novel that inspired the movie, you find the book to be more detailed, more fluid and more coherent.
To Kill a Mockingbird
It is very rare for an author to write a book and be remembered for that very book for his or her lifetime. To Kill A Mockingbird can never be a one-time read. While, Gregory Peck’s stellar performance as Atticus Finch will be ingrained in our minds forever, the movie’s crisp structure has compromised valuable details from the book. The book has never stopped being relevant, attracting readership, generation after generation. Narrated from a child’s perspective, the story takes you through a range of emotions and is lucid and poignant.
The Book Thief
There have been countless stories conceived that have been based on the Nazi regime. The Book Thief stands apart as it is narrated by an unconventional narrator – Death. However, the movie fails to do complete justice to the book. The journey that you traverse as a reader is much more impactful than when you watch the film.