Tuesday, February 06, 2007

A Novel Adaption

As romance readers, I assume some of us are watching the movies on Lifetime made from Nora Roberts' books. I faithfully read her J.D. Robb series, but haven't read a lot of NR books. But it got me to thinking about novels made into movies. I haven't enjoyed movies where I had read the book.

I watched Nora Roberts' Sanctuary for the first time a few weeks ago. I thought the movie was one of the new ones, but discovered it was made in 2001. I've never read the book, so I can't compare the two. I'm sure it's difficult to pare a book down to fit into two hours, but the movie seemed choppy or disjointed in places. It's not one I'll watch over again and not just because I know who the stalker is.

The last two Monday nights I've watched the two new Nora movies on Lifetime: Angels Fall and Montana Sky. I enjoyed both movies to a degree. Again, I haven't read the books so I can't compare.

I find several of the Harlequin movies good. Is it a coincidence that I've never read those books? However, I know of one author who did not like their take on her book.

Rose Hill made from Julie Garwood's For the Roses was horrible. You could hardly recognize it. It wasn't even a romance. And then, they killed off one of her brothers, who had his own book. Then, there was French Silk by Sandra Brown. So, I didn't like Susan Lucci as the heroine, but have loved Lee Horsley since his Matt Houston days.

I can't think of one movie made from a book I've read that I liked. Why? Is it because two hours doesn't allow for the character development a book does? Because they have to leave out subplots that give a novel depth? I've taken literary license myself, so that in itself doesn't bother me. I've yet to figure out the answer.

Have you ever read a book, then enjoyed a movie made from it? Or am I a lone wolf?


Kathy said...

The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara was made into the movie Gettysburg. I read the book first and worried that the screen couldn't bring to life Shaara's wonderful story. I was dead wrong! Gettysburg was exactly like the book and the book is fabulous! The actors were the perfect fit. Jeff Daniels as Gen. Chamberlain. Tom Berrenger as Gen. Longstreet. Sam Elliot as Gen. Buford. Ahhhh! Couldn't ask for better.

Not romance, of course. But an excellent transition from page to screen.


Anonymous said...

Harry Potter!

Not romance, of course, and I didn't like the movies as much as I love the books, but I still enjoyed them.

And this is not a movie, but I like the musical WICKED so much more than the book.

Shanna Swendson said...

I generally avoid reading a book until I've seen the movie for this reason. If I see the movie first, I can generally enjoy it, and then when I read the book, I like it more. If I read the book first, I've already formed my own mental images that are going to clash, no matter how well the movie is done, and there's almost always going to be stuff left out in the adaptation.

Some exceptions: I didn't really like the book The Devil Wears Prada, but I enjoyed the movie far more than I enjoyed the book. The movie version of Bridget Jones's Diary was very different from the book, but I still enjoyed it as a sort of alternate universe take on the story. I've enjoyed all the movies made from the Harry Potter books. There are cuts and differences, and I don't agree with all the casting, but I manage to mentally separate the book universe from the movie universe and enjoy both equally.

The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe was one of my favorite books as a kid, and I loved the movie. The book is written kind of sketchily, more in the style of oral storytelling, and the movie expanded upon what was hinted at in the book.

I think the key in a successful book-to-movie adaptation is the people doing the adapting actually having respect for the source material or even being big fans of it rather than just cashing in on a popular title to create a box office draw or using it as a springboard for a vanity project.

Samantha Hunter said...

They made a movie from a Blaze on the Oxygen channel, maybe a few. I watched one, and while it took the sort of dark sexiness of Blaze and turned it more to a romantic comedy, it was still very enjoyable. I don't think I'd put up a fight if they wanted to take one of mine and adapt it... ;)


Deborah Matthews said...

Good point, Shanna. Never thought about the expectations part. That probably goes into why I've never seen a movie remade that I liked the remake better than the original.

I've enjoyed most of the Jane Austen movies I've seen. But then, it's been a few years since I've read Jane Austen.

Samantha, What was the Blaze movie on Oxygen?

JoAnn Ross said...

I try not to go to a movie if I've read the book because I know I'll be disappointed. Also, characters are often morphed together (which, I may be wrong, but I think Nate was in Montana Sky last night, because I sure seem to remember him being the lawyer). Sanctuary was definitely problematic in that they left out characters and (again, I may be not remembering this right, but I seem to recall they invented a different bad guy that didn't make as much sense. ) One problem with Lifetime movies, I feel, is that they spend so much time on slow scenery shots and soap-opera type closeups.

Nora's books are really fast-paced; the movies less so, though I thought Montana Sky moved along at a faster clip than the one last week because there was so much story they had to cover.

Last Saturday I watched the DVD of Thank You For Smoking (which everyone must see!) and then, on the extras, there was a Charlie Rose show with the screenwriter/director and book writer (Christopher Buckley) on how it took 12 years before anyone could figure out how to get that satire onto film. And even then, the screenwriter gave some examples of things that worked great in the book, but didn't work on film. This was also one of the few movies I watched the deleted scenes since, coming from a book, the director explained how, as great as they were, they interferred with the pacing of the film.

It's much the same thing I learned while dealing with COS on my videos; there is a big difference between text and visuals, and what works well for one (i.e. back cover copy) doesn't necessarily work well for the other.

Oh, one book I read first, then still loved the movie -- and I'm dating myself here, lol -- was Mario Puzo's The Godfather.

Nancy Morse said...

As a reader/viewer, I can't think of a movie that was as good as the book. As a writer/author, even though none of my books have been made into movies, I think that you have to go into a movie deal knowing that the movie isn't likely to bear much resemblance, if any, to the book you wrote. If you're too squeamish for that possibility (probability), then don't go with the movie deal. But if you're looking to make some extra bucks, go with i. Just know what you're in for. As for Nora, I watched Angels Fall and, although I didn't read the book, it was pretty clear to me early on who the bad guy was. So no surprises there. Usually, if I don't like a TV movie , I'll reach for the remote, but I watched the whole thing, so there must have been something about it that I liked.

gailbarrett said...

I was disappointed in Angels Fall because I thought the acting was poor, for one thing. I haven't read the book, but it was obvious to me (having read other Nora Roberts books) that there was a lot more depth to the hero and heroine in the book as opposed to the movie. The movie was just a glimpse of the surface. I've got Montana Sky taped to watch this weekend. In my experience, a movie rarely lives up to the book. Maybe The Wizard of Oz did, just because the music in the movie added a special something:))).

Samantha Hunter said...

Deborah, I want to say it was Kristin Hardy's My Sexiest Mistake -- in fact, I'm pretty sure that was it. There may have been one or two others, but I don't get extended cable, so I probably missed them. Haven't heard any more about it for a long time. I thought it was a pretty good adaptation, though -- it wasn't as sexy as Blaze is in reading, but the story was still well done, the actors did a nice job.


Deborah Matthews said...

Thanks, Sam. I think I may have seen My Sexiest Mistake

Dr. Bill Emener said...

As Joann and Nancy already addressed, I have yet to find a movie better than the book (among other things, when I read a book I direct the movie in my head). The better book-into-movie movies, however, typically have two important things going for them: good actors and a good director. (Let's all remember that the next time we get a call and someone says they want to make a movie out of one of our books.)