Good Books,Good Movies?

This week’s question is: What books do we think would make good movies?

That is harder to answer than I first thought.

There is usually a great deal of change between book and getting it to the screen. In some cases, like the Harry Potter books, there is just too much to put into movies. As long as those movies are, you would have had to add at least another hour to each to contain all that is in books. In others, like “Forrest Gump”, they wanted to leave out the ugliness and make it into a sweeter, kinder story. That was the case in many movies during the Hayes Office of Standards and Practices. In more recent times, the opposite is more often true; to bring in big stars and try to guarantee big box office receipts, more sex, violence and car chases are added, but sometimes it backfires. And I would hate to see that happen to all of the nice romance stories  that I have read from my fellow bloggers here and those by others.

The more I read and the more movies I watch, I realize that there is another reason as to why books are changed and often don’t work well when translated into a movie.
Books rely on mind pictures. In one written well, a person can feel where they are taken in a book. Although a set designer can take a description and work with it, is not always possible to make the audience feel the atmosphere of a room or place; but words can take you there.

It is also very hard to translate a character’s thoughts, to which a reader might be privy to, in a screen play. Eugene O’Neill’s play, “Strange Interlude”,  was toned-down and made into a movie, with pauses to let the audience hear the voices in characters’ heads at times, but that is a rare example.“Lilies of the Field” as a movie loses a great deal of its flavor by not letting us hear what Homer is thinking, as the story does.

Many times a book is slow-moving so that one can savor the story and nuances of the writer, but as good as those books are, they would not make great movies at that pace. Rachel Joyce’s “The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry” and “Perfect” are cases in point.
I read a number of mysteries, mostly cozies, but after seeing the poor quality of Janet Evanonich’s “One For the Money” as a movie. I doubt that many, if any, of others of the genre would do well on the big screen. The writers and producers stayed very close to the book storyline,(although they watered-down what was supposed to have happened to Lula), and Katherine Heigl embodied Stephanie Plum quite well, but the story didn’t translate well.The men were good-looking, but the playful chemistry just was just not there.

I would like to give Gretchen Archer’s “Davis Way” series a try at it, though, as well as Rosie Genova’s “Italian Kitchen series. Since a writer must hand over rights, though, I would hate to see what Hollywood would do to that nice family. They always take Italians to the lowest level on-screen.

A story that I read years ago that I always thought would make a good movie is Stephen Vincent Benét’s “The Bishop’s Beggar”. Although we do read the Bishop’s thoughts at times, we more see them in his work and demeanor as he changes.

I never saw Cecilia Ahern’s work, “P.S. I Love You” in its movie form, nor could I read past the very first part of the book. I would like to see her, “If You Could See Me Now” and “There’s No Place Like Here” as faithfully portrayed movies, but my favorite of hers, “Rosie Dunne”, [“Where Rainbows End”], consists of a number of correspondences and I doubt that any screenwriter could ever capture its charm.

I am going to go with a couple of series here, Young Adult series, to boot! Geoff Rodkey’s “Chronicles of Egg” trilogy should really be made into a movie…or two or three. I think Tonya Hurley’s “Ghost Girl” series would be good and quite possibly Eoin Colfer’s “Artemis Fowl” series, with some reservations. Like many series, Colfer rather lost his way in the middle of his story thread, took his creations out of the character and took a dark turn before coming back to more like where the original stories seem to be headed.

Do you have any thoughts on my points? I would love to hear from you.


About Tonette Joyce

Tonette was a once-fledgling lyricists-bookkeeper, turned cook/baker/restaurateur and is now exploring different writing venues,(with a stage play recently completed). She has had poetry and nonfiction articles published in the last few years. Tonette has been married to her only serious boyfriend for more than thirty years and she is, as one person described her, family-oriented almost to a fault. Never mind how others have described her, she is,(shall we say), a sometime traditionalist of eclectic tastes.She has another blog : "Tonette Joyce:Food,Friends,Family" here at WordPress.She and guests share tips and recipes for easy entertaining and helps people to be ready for almost anything.
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4 Responses to Good Books,Good Movies?

  1. Patricia Kiyono says:

    I agree with you, Tonette, the good books just contain too much to adequately portray in a two hour movie. I think the complexity is what makes the books enjoyable. As my daughter told me about the Harry Potter movies, they give you a good reminder of the high points in the book, but it’s like looking at a photo album of a big event in your life – you’re going to see and remember things that happened, but it’s not exactly like re-living them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • There is so much more in Harry Potter.There is a wonderful lesson within Harry Potter about human nature, respect and growth that is lacking in the movies. We learn that Harry’s father and godfather were fine men in many ways, but their treatment of Snape and house elves were very bad.It shows children that one can love and respect their family members for their good points, but to see their human failings not as thing that should be blindly followed or emulated. It never degrades the men, but shows that they were unfair and no one else should behave in that manner. All children should learn that.


  2. jeff7salter says:

    wow, pretty exhaustive list. Well thought-out.
    I really like your point about he books usually painting a mind picture that the movie designers’ VISUALS struggle with.
    I suppose that’s why some movies which are “shot on location” tend to capture some local flavor better than the ones at the sound stages.
    But sometimes all the backgrounds and sets and costumes can’t breathe life into a film if they don’t capture the characters and their motivations.


    • Sets can be very helpful but if the writing isn’t there, the acting and direction, it won’t cover the loss. As we have discussed before, nearly all of the time, movies cannot do justice to books.There is an occasional rare movie that take the raw material from a fair book and makes i t shine. Thanks.

      Liked by 1 person

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