**Warning – Possible Spoilers**

Many, many years ago when Silence of the Lambs was a new Academy-Award-seizing film, I must have watched it about three dozen times. Knew it by heart, and it influenced my decision to take up criminalistics in college (but that came later). And finally, I decided to head to the library (those brick-and-mortar buildings that held hundreds, possibly thousands or tens of thousands of books, all to check out and read for FREE. Since it was, you know, when “kindle” was something you did to a fire to get it going) and grab Thomas Harris’ novel to see where the story came from. Of course, I had an expectation that what I found in those pages wouldn’t be much like the screen.

I was blown away. Hollywood had actually done a really good job interpreting the novel. The only real differences I can recall are the condensed determination that the moth was the much rarer Death’s Head (the entomologists made an initial mistake in identification), removed some of the scenes depicting Jame Gumb’s disgust with his male parts and they sprung the “girl suit” surprise a little earlier in the novel’s pacing. None of the passion and the story Harris put to page was really sacrificed.

Normally I cringe when I see there’s a movie being made from a novel I love, and I watch it with considerable reluctance and pretty low expectations. It can never be a total letdown when you expect it to be a total fail. In that department I’ve been surprised, when I took my sister to see The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. Except for missing one important addition to the line, which I KNEW they would omit from the script, and having the creepy man-like blonde play the Witch who was supposed to be stunningly gorgeous). I was blown away. I actually cried, seeing a movie I had waited my entire life to see (now if they would only make C.S. Lewis’s Space Trilogy… Peter Jackson, are you out there?).

 

And then there’s that classic dystopian novel, Harry Harrison’s Make Room, Make Room. Don’t know it? Sure you do. It’s where one of the most iconic movie lines came from: “Soylent green is people!” Well, maybe not the book, but the movie that bears the name. I loved the movie (I still love Charlton Heston films) and so when I found a copy of the book, I dove in. No “soylent green” is people. In fact, that whole idea of reconstituted people isn’t part of Make Room, Make Room at all, and the soylent only refers to soy/lentil “steaks.”

I generally prefer the movies from Stephen King’s novels to the novels themselves, with few exceptions (The Shining being one, as I preferred the ending, making more sense). He wrote with so much fluff in his novels that we kids used to joke that you could skip the first five chapters of The Tommyknockers (or any of his novels of that period) and still have the core of the story.

I couldn’t sit through all of Forrest Gump, and didn’t read the book, but I’ve been told by many family members that the movie cuts out all of the crap.

TV shows can get in on the action too–though I am not really crazy about some of the plot changes from novel to show, Game of Thrones does a pretty darn good job of keeping to, and sometimes surpassing Martin’s stories (especially when he rambles for pages about what gross things his characters are devouring while talking about nothing of substance or doing anything of concern).

So, what books have you read that have been pleasantly surpassed by the movie version?

 

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Comments
  1. Greg says:

    A Clockwork Orange, The Shining, I am Legend.

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