Books and Their Movies

35mm_movie_negativeThere are tons and tons of movies based on books. Actually, a good percentage of the time, you will find that a movie was at least inspired by a book, if not completely based on it. Once a book becomes popular, it’s likely that it will turn into a movie. It’s practically inevitable. Sometimes they’re really well done, other times they’re just plain garbage. In this post, I’m going to explore some of my favourites, and some of the ones that I wish didn’t exist at all.

1) LOTR & The Hobbit: These books, and their movies, are some of the best that I have seen. I remember seeing The Fellowship of the Ring after reading the book a few times at quite a young age. It felt like Peter Jackson had peered into my brain and recreated exactly what I had pictured while reading. The LOTR trilogy (books and movies) were magnificent. The Hobbit follows the book less than the other Tolkien-based movies, but they still encompass that tone, style, and feeling that I felt they should.

2) Harry Potter: All of these books were absolutely amazing. They’re books that I will continue to read for my whole life, and that I will encourage everyone I know to read. The movies are just as brilliant. The captured the magic and imagery and sentiment so well, and it was a bonus that they had (almost) all the same actors for the entire series. These followed the books very well and also recreated the depth and feel of the books without any trouble.

3) GOT: True, this is a show, not a movie, but they really captured the irony, political drama, and emotion of the books so well. I watched the first season of the show before reading the books, only because I didn’t realize that there actually were books until later on and I was pleasantly surprised at how well the show followed the story. The only thing that bothers me is that it took so long for G.R.R.M. to be recognized and for his work to receive its due.

4) Pillars of the Earth: This was an excellent book and an excellent mini-series. They could have made the show longer, but I felt that they kept enough of the story to make the points understand and to include all of the best aspects of the book.

5) The Hunger Games: These were books that I had a really hard time putting down up until the last one. I was less interested in some of the repetitiveness of the story, however, it had such dark undertones that I had to keep reading. The last movie hasn’t been made yet, but I was quite pleased with the first two. Teen fiction isn’t usually my piece of cake, but these had so much intelligence and intrigue hidden deep inside that I was drawn to them.

Others include Of Mice and Men, Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, The Reader, and The Green Mile.


There are also quite a few movies based on books that I have not enjoyed. Actually, now that I think of it, there are more that didn’t turn out quite as well as their originals. Under the Dome,  Queen of the Damned, and even The Book Thief were lacking in their box office counterparts, although I loved the books. Let’s not forget World War Z or The Other Boelyn Girl, either.

Still, there are a number of stories that I would love to see on screen, and done well. These include Children of Hurin, the other two books in the His Dark Materials trilogy, and The Crystal Cave series.

On the other hand, there are many movies and shows that I wish would be turned into books. I’d love to read a series on The Borgias, Rome, Vikings, Boardwalk Empire, Lost, or countless others.

I suppose the main difference between books and movies is that while a book can contain so many subtle descriptions, it is much harder to simply show someone. Words can hint, create, destroy, and holler while being completely silent and private. Movies and shows cannot.

What are the best book to movie recreations that you have seen? What have been the worst? What would you like to see become a movie or show someday?


16 thoughts on “Books and Their Movies

  1. I actually enjoyed World War Z and really like where Under the Dome is going. Also, I’m not a big fan of Hunger Games, but I did think the movies did a good job of adapting the books (and in some ways making them slightly better).

    I thought the movie adaptation of Battle Royale was pretty good, though I disapproved of some of the changes they made. Eragon and A Series of Unfortunate Events should never have been made, at least not as they were. And I thought the recent adaptations of Carrie and Odd Thomas were inspired. Other than that, I can’t think of any others that you haven’t mentioned.

  2. No doubt LOTR series…is one of the best I have seen so far…no one can beat that…but one book that I want to see as a Movie is ATLAS SHRUGGED…I dont mind if director makes it 3 4 or 5 parts…but I would like to see how will he sketch the various shades of Dagny…which actors would be chosen…Ayn Rand did a brilliant job and it will take a brilliant team to make a perfect movie…I hope someone someday make that perfect movie for me 🙂

    • I thought I heard something recently about that being made into movie or tv series recently, but I could be wrong. I have yet to read those, but I have heard excellent things. I’ve just added it to my wishlist. 🙂

      • Yup someone made a movie…but movie was ok…I want the movie to be as good as novel…thy need amazing star cast…I hope someday someone make that dream come true 🙂

  3. Catching Fire is by far my favourite movie adaptation. While it doesn’t cover all the plot points in the novel, I blame that on limited running time. The movie still gave off the right tone, message, and themes of the book.

    One book I really want to see in audio/visual form is the Leviathan Series by Scott Westerfeld, hopefully in animated form. The novel is illustrated by Keith Thompson, but I’d love to see the beasties and mechaniks in action.

  4. I have read all the Percy Jackson books and they are magnificent but the movies very disappointed.
    I will like to see “The Wishcraft Mystery Series” by Heather Blake on TV maybe a Hallmark movie.

    • It’s nice when they can even make a short mini-series or set of them, like Sherlock. Some books just don’t fit into a movie, or could be so much better that way.

  5. When discussing books vs. the movies made (or adapted) from them, I find I often (almost universally, in fact) prefer the book. There is often too much left out of the movie to make it more than a “curiosity”; the limits of time, money and directorial “vision” usually do ill service to the writer’s intent. That being said, I do find some movies excellent representatives of the narrative form — The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile (both Stephen King), Lawrence of Arabia (based on The Seven Pillars of Wisdom, T.E. Lawrence’s memoir of the Arab Revolt) and going back a “few years, The Maltese Falcon (a film noir classic from the 1940s). In this last, Hammet (who collaborated on the screenplay, lifted almost the entire text of the novel for the screenplay. If you saw the movie, you know the book. My tastes run older film (partly because of my age) and historical writing. BTW, the television series, The Borgias, was adapted from a really good history, The Borgias, the Hidden History by G.J. Meyer, you may want to check it out . I’ve read The Hunger Games (book one) and Ender’s Game (book one) and found I had no interest in reading further. I did enjoy The Sookie Stackhouse series (upon which Trueblood was based) but found the tv series too “divergent” to follow. So that’s it from here. Oh, I almost forgot, I agree with your assessment of The Book Thief — the book was much, much , much better that the movie.

    • I have Ender’s Game on my reading list, but I really liked the movie. I usually prefer the book as well, but sometimes the movie or show can smooth over awkward circumstances or choppy reading since there are so many people working to make the writing into a reality.

      I will definitely look up The Borgias, I had no idea! I really loved that show and wish they didn’t have to end it a season early.

      The Shawshank Redemption is also a good one. I haven’t read the book yet, but The Green Mile was almost identical to the book, so if it’s similar that way I’m sure I’ll enjoy it.

      And yes, I was disappointed with The Book Thief. I felt that a lot of subtle description was missing, along with too many minute details that really set the story apart from anything else.

  6. I really didn’t like the way the first Hunger Games movie was directed. However, I found Catching Fire to be one of two movie adaptations (the other being TFioS) that I actually found to be better than the book.

    Also, there is a movie adaption of the first book in His Dark Materials, The Golden Compass. I watched it for the first and only time at the age of seven and read the books around age eleven. I don’t remember much about the movie, I only remember thinking the books were superior upon reading them. I’ve been meaning to reread the series but I’ve lost my copies of the books.

    Have you seen The Golden Compass? I’m curious if you think it’s worth watching again 🙂

    • I have seen it, but I didn’t feel it did the books justice, and they stopped after the first one. Those books are amazing though, and I don’t know if they could ever make something that played to the both the immaturity and innocence as well as the darkness and religious undertones.

      I agree about The Hunger Games. I liked the second one, but the first was a bit choppy. I got sick of the books after I read the series, but I’ll probably still read them again eventually.

  7. I haven’t read the LOTR series (I know, *gasp*..I will read them with my kids…don’t worry), but those movies were, hands down, some of the best I have seen. I did just see How to Train Your Dragon 2 and saw that it’s even based on a book (or series) and can’t wait to check it out. You reminded me to go back and re watch Pride and Prejudice.

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