Although it’s not extremely common, there exists film adaptations of novels that are simply better; whether they have built on an already excellent narrative or saved a story that fell flat, here are 12 films that are better than the book.
The novel Jaws is considered a standard thriller, however the movie has become a cult classic, and thanks to its low budget and malfunctioning mechanical shark, a triumph that it stood out so drastically in 1975, and still today, as one of the definitive summer blockbusters. The characters are also more fleshed out in the movie, which makes it easier for the audience to establish emotional connections.
Ian Fleming’s creation of James Bond has been made iconic from the many cinematic adaptations that have succeeded the series- in particular the most recent installation of Casino Royale. While it was the first book Fleming released, the film allows for a more complex characterisation, in particular Bond’s reaction to the death of Vesper Lynd.
Jumanji, by Chris Van Allsburg, is a picture book, so more than anything, the movie has more room for depth and meaning. The picture book has only Judy and Peter, while the movie has the four main characters, which instils into the movie intense emotional ties that are lacking in the book. The film is also more thrilling due to the side effects of the game affecting not only the players surroundings but them as well.
Nicholas Sparks has many books, most of which have been adapted into movie form. The Notebook is one of the most well-known and while the narrative follows the book fairly closely, the movie focuses in on the ‘little things,’ and accentuates the romance that is present in the novel but just not as convincing.
This is one of the cases where the movie has only improved the already fantastic book. Stardust is a compelling tale which the movie built on, in particular the adventure that is portrayed. The movie adds in some fantasy-action which in turn has made Stardust into an edge-of-your-seat watch.
The Lord of the Rings
Once again, a classic series, both the books and films. The screenwriters were meticulous and deliberate when it came to adapting the book to a movie, and boy has it paid off. Tolkien’s books are masterpieces, however they are content heavy and overly descriptive, which the film manages to break down, albeit in three-hour installations.
Fantastic Mr. Fox
Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr. Fox is a charming book that was made into an even more charming movie. Wes Anderson would not usually be considered as a first choice for an animated film, however the unique and quirky nature of the Fantastic Mr. Fox film only adds to the stories cheeky and heartwarming essence.
The reason for Fight Club being better than the book is mostly to do with the ending. In the book, the towers are not blown up, however in the movie, the final scene is a ironically peaceful moment between Edward Norton and Helena Bonham Carter while the bombs light up the night sky. This solidifies the tone of the film, reinforces the message and simply makes it more entertaining to watch- but try to remember the first and second rule of Fight Club: you do not talk about Fight Club.
The Princess Bride was adapted for the screen by William Goldman who actually wrote the novel as well. This meant the genuine humour and individualistic nature of the book endured, and ‘movie magic’ elevated the fairy-tale into physical being, hence creating a timeless film.
The film introduces the story of Marion Crane, unlike the book, which works to make her death a surprise and reinforces the famed suspense of that shower scene. The film was very popular, and has since become one of Hitchcock’s most well-known. From here, the Psycho franchise started and led to the making of the 1998 film starring Vince Vaughn as Norman Bates – even later becoming inspiration for television series Bates Motel.
Written by Mario Puzo, the original crime novel, despite being a fun read, is considered secondary to the film, which is known as being one of the best movies of all time. Francis Ford Coppola created a trilogy which fleshed out the characters and their backstories like they were in the books. The movie is one that made cinematic history with its mix of classicism and modernism, and endures to this day.
This movie is yet another classic, however it is known for being better than the novel simply because of how completely strange the novel is. In the book, Forrest becomes an astronaut and goes to space, meets an ape named Sue, and crash-lands in the jungle, where he’s nearly eaten by cannibals. There are some funny things in the movie to be sure, but perhaps nothing as wild as monkeys in space. The movie is also completely feel-good and touching, reminding us that life is “just like a box of chocolates.”