- Published on Monday, 14 May 2012 10:30
- Written by Zarmeen Ghoor
Five books better than their film adaptions.
Pride & Prejudice
by Jane Austen
This is possibly one of the most frequently adapted novels out there, the latest being the 2005 affair starring Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen. Now for ardent fans, a film will never reach the standard of an Austen novel. Ever. The first hitch is that you can’t condense Jane Austen into 2 hours and expect a fine result. The novel is laden with wit and satire that just doesn’t come through in the movie and the eccentricities of the painful, but amusing, Mrs Bennet are mostly glossed over. The biggest problem is that in the movie one doesn’t understand what attracts Darcy to Lizzie, or why she eventually falls for him – it just happens too fast with too many holes in between.
Also, we’re sure they made more effort with their hair in the 1800s.
The Kite Runner
by Khaled Hosseini
Hosseini’s debut novel is one of those emotionally loaded tragic stories that seems too horrific at times to be realistic – the attraction and brilliance lie in the writing. He wraps simple thoughts in beautiful phrases and uses his skill with words to draw you in and keep you turning pages with a mixture of dread and anticipation. Needless to say, this cannot be translated into a film. The rushed events in the film, and those left out completely, leave the themes of loyalty, brotherhood, betrayal and redemption insufficiently developed. I would say it lacked heart.
The Golden Compass
by Phillip Pullman
Published as Northern Lights everywhere except in the US (because they have to do everything differently there), The Golden Compass is the first in a trilogy and was brought to the big screen in 2007. The second book never made that leap and I’ll tell you why: the biggest mistake with the adaptation was keeping it child-friendly. Despite the 12-year-old protagonist in the novel, it certainly isn’t meant for 12-year-olds. As a result, the movie ups on the drama, overcompensates on the action scenes and loses a lot of the depth and darkness of the novel. While Pullman continues the story without explanation and strings one along, allowing curiosity to develop, the film begins by blurting out a flat narration of the most significant and mysterious aspects of the novel – the nature of dæmons and Dust. There are chronological discrepancies and the book’s shocker conclusion was simply left out, creating the most extraordinary anticlimax in the history of film. At best, the movie is a dim shadow of the book.
Charlie & the Chocolate Factory
by Roald Dahl
It’s usually interesting to see a new Tim Burton flick. Has he cast Johnny Depp yet again? Have the duo outdone themselves to produce something even more weird and strangely imaginative? This time they went too far. Besides clumsy mistakes like Charlie being offered dollars instead of pounds for his Golden Ticket in the little shop, a whole back story to Willy Wonka’s relationship with his neurotic dentist father was invented and inserted in the form of flashbacks. That’s taking creative licence too far. Depp’s portrayal of Wonka seems frivolous, and he comes across as an unhinged, Michael Jackson-like psychotic rather than an eccentric chocolatier trying to teach brats a lesson. It’s a fun, bright movie, but the innocent charm and humour of the book were just lost in all the colour and chocolate. If you want to see a good adaptation, go watch the 1971 version (Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory) starring Gene Wilder in a performance as charming as Depp’s is creepy.
The Picture of Dorian Gray
by Oscar Wilde
Released only as Dorian Gray, this 2009 adaptation of Wilde’s only novel has a dark atmosphere almost as penetrating as that of the novel, but lacks its gravity. It is well cast, with Colin Firth a perfectly wicked Lord Henry who pours his doctrine of gratifying one’s senses into the impressionable Dorian’s ear. The promising start of the movie collapses due to the one-dimensional nature of Dorian’s quest for pleasure. And did we have to see that much flesh? The film makes him seem like a dreadfully vain sex freak, whereas Wilde’s Dorian was primarily obsessed with his own beauty, but also wealth, opulence and standing in society. So, not a great Wilde variation, but at least Ben Barnes provides something pretty to look at.