Lost in Translation

Marko points out that Hollywood has a talent for turning great books into bad movies. As counterexamples he points to To Kill A Mockingbird, Blade Runner, the Shawshank Redemption, and Lord of the Rings.

A movie that is as good as or better than the book/story it was based on is a rare thing, indeed. For my two cents, I'd add Mother Night and Fight Club, simply because they were lucky enough to be based on books that translated to the screen well.

But there have actually been a few movies that were better stories than their written versions, with The Last of the Mohicans serving as a good example. I doubt James Fenimore Cooper had an audience with my sensibilities in mind when he wrote the book, but even if you scratch out the two centuries of cultural change the book was a pretty mediocre read. The best thing the script writer did was get rid of the damn psalmist, and then move the love story to the main characters.

I know that Blade Runner is something of a canon work amongst my peers, but it has so little to do with the story upon which it was supposedly based that I don't think it fits in this category at all.

In my opinion, the winner for the worst book-to-movie translation has to be Even Cowgirls Get the Blues. Any other nominees?


Marko said...

Starship Troopers...horrible adaptation of the most influential sci-fi novel of the last century. As a standalone movie, it's actually good fun, but I remain convinced that Bob Heinlein would break Verhoeven's fingers if he was still alive.

I'd nominate Eragon, too, but that one doesn't count...it was a shitty movie, but the source material was a shitty novel, so I guess you could say it was a faithful adaptation.

mathle said...

Fight Club sucked on the screen. Visually, it didn't work to have a guy talking to his alter ego. In text, this is more plausible due to being once removed from the visual medium of film. I felt duped when I saw the film.