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janbb's avatar

Are there novels that shouldn't be made into movies?

Asked by janbb (53592points) March 12th, 2018

I’m rereading A Wrinkle in Time now prior to going to the movie. There are aspects of the book that are so lovely and delicate that I find it hard to imagine that a film visualization will do them justice. Are there any books that you feel were hurt or would be hurt by a movie version?

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22 Answers

Yellowdog's avatar

Dictionaries, Telephone directories, atlases, world almanac

But seriously, many books give better written description than can ever be duplicated in film. When I was fourteen I remember reading The Amityville Horror—the book was extremely scary, kept me sleeping with the light on for several weeks. The movie was a real let down. As an adult, I re-read the book and discovered it was the fact that what was scary in the book was mostly psychological. It was subtle and atmospheric in spite of being a straightforward style. Nightmarish and meaningless but credible Stuff I could relate to—not overdone imagery and impossible to believe stuff of the movies.

The same might be said about the Narnia books—the movies failed to capture the uniquely British and legend-rich flavour of the writing of C.S. Lewis. which led much to the flavour and ambiance we read into the books.

Several books I read even as a child had beautiful description which has made me a descriptive writer even now, but would have been edited out of a film.

I think they did do a good job on the three Lord of the Rings movies and MOST of the Harry Potter films, however. Better than my imagination when reading the material

janbb's avatar

@Yellowdog I thought it would be clear from the tags that I was talking about fiction. Have now edited the OP to make that clearer.

funkdaddy's avatar

Most modern books I think.

It would make more sense to just take the premise and make movies inspired by it. Or go ahead and even use the “universe” for some things, but I don’t know why they try to make movies that actually follow the plot of the book(s) in most cases.

The list of movies that lived up to the books is probably so short it should be considered a true accomplishment. I’m not trying to be negative, but it’s a shortcoming so obvious that each adaptation has to address how they come up short and why. Maybe it’s just not a good idea.

To me, the best movies “based on” books are always ones that tell a new story anyway.

Yellowdog's avatar

There you go, janbb I hit the Enter button before I intended and had to go back and edit..

janbb's avatar

Thank you.

rockfan's avatar

Diary of Anne Frank

elbanditoroso's avatar

The fourth grade at my grandkid’s school read it in class, and saw it yesterday.

He liked the movie but said “the book was better”. (Age 10)

filmfann's avatar

Catcher In The Rye.
It’s not because of the story, but because the way it is told, from Holden’s conflicted view.

funkdaddy's avatar

To answer the question more directly. I’m not looking forward to all the inevitable Neal Stephenson movies, but I enjoy his books. I think the visual effects will unfortunately dominate the visually smaller stories and thoughts that make his stuff unique.

In the recent past, I didn’t even finish “The Dark Tower” movie, it was probably the most disappointing adaptation I’ve seen. Someone correct if the last 45 minutes is just amazing.

The Little Prince on the other hand, I thought was wonderful and captured the spirit of the original without trying to retell it directly.

chyna's avatar

Most, if not all of Stephen King books should not be made into movies.

rojo's avatar

‘Kind of off topic but I always wanted to see Delanys’ Dhalgren in movie form but I never thought that it could be done as well as the novel so was happy no one ever tried. With CGI these days perhaps they could do it justice but I fear they would butcher the storyline in order to make it more marketable.

janbb's avatar

@Yellowdog I thought they did a good job with The Lord of the Rings too.

RocketGuy's avatar

Lord of the Rings – they cut out a lot of stuff, yet it was still 12 hours of movie. I was surprised how much they left in, though.

rojo's avatar

@RocketGuy wasn’t so much the cutting but the additions that got to me.

Lightlyseared's avatar

50 Shades probably shouldn’t have been made into a movie, at least not with EL James in charge of production.

rockfan's avatar


I think a handful of movies have been better than the books, especially Carrie and Misery

MrGrimm888's avatar

The Lord of the Rings series was great. I thought.

The worst was Starship Troppers…. I liked the book a lot. The movie seemed almost like a parody of the book.

Puppet Masters wasn’t too bad of a movie, but they could redo that RH book way better now as well. The book was again far better…

MrGrimm888's avatar

Into the Wild. That movie was done well. But it focused on one aspect, not the way the book did. The book went into multiple stories about other people who did what Chris did, and went off the grid, into a wilderness by themselves.

Still. I liked the movie, and thought they captured that part of the book well.

I highly recommend the book.

Lightlyseared's avatar

Most of Stephen Kings novels.

janbb's avatar

@Lightlyseared I liked Dolores Claiborne and The Shawshank Redemption but neither of those were horror stories.

Yellowdog's avatar

I’ve finally seen the A Wrinkle In Time movie.

Most novels we READ utilize our own imagination to a degree that they become our OWN version of the story. Too much interpolation from a movie, and we are led through a story and landscapes that we see but do not really experience in our imagination.

Furthermore, A Wrinkle In Time utilizes many trans-dimensional scenes and “eye candy” that the scenes are difficult to relate to or experience in our imagination when we see them. The best movies have gritty, realistic (even magic realism) scenes that we can feel and experience the atmosphere and sense of place—be it childhood in a small Texas town where the school and stores and theatre and bicycles can be re-experienced and almost even smelled—or be it The Lord of the Rings which is dripping with Celtic atmosphere.

That’s why when we ‘see’ the horror we may evaluate how good they did on the ‘monster’ but don’t really experience what we really relate to, and that’s fear or wonder at the unknown.

No matter how good they do on the scenery, the only things that really matter to me are things I can relate to and feel the experience. Passing through dimensions really only looks like Computer Generated Imagery—not like really being there and experiencing it, as you may when you read it in a book through your own imagination.

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