ten movies I like better than the books they’re based on

The book isn’t always better…

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‘Frankenstein’ (1931)Frankenstein remains my least favorite book of all time.  The movie wasn’t too much better, but at least it was more interesting and Boris Karloff is awesome.

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‘Mary Poppins’ (1964) – In the book, Mary Poppins is quite unpleasant and vain and I really don’t understand why so many children and adults found her appealing before the Disney film came out.  Anyway, the movie is near and dear to my heart and I’m interested in the sequel that’s hitting theaters this year.

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‘War Horse’ (2011) – A short, dull book into which Steven Spielberg breathed new life. (Plus, Tom Hiddleston and Benedict Cumberbatch sharing scenes?  I rest my case.)

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‘The Little Prince’ (2015) – Okay, so I do like the book.  But it was a little strange and unintelligible (to me, at least) and while the movie is much the same, I like the new plot and Jeff Bridges’ voice acting and the aching (yet strangely hopeful) melancholy pervading almost every scene.

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‘Brooklyn’ (2015) – The movie was a romantic gem, the book was long and boring.

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‘How to Train Your Dragon’ (2010) – The book and the film don’t share much recognizable material between them, but I infinitely prefer the film.  The book is comedic, I suppose, but the movie has comedy and heart. (And gorgeous music.)

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‘Little Women’ (1994) – I really do like Little Women.  But Louisa May Alcott’s writing tends to get on my nerves (so much moralizing!) and the 1994 film has a magical glow about it that never fails to move me. ❤

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‘The Inheritance’ (1997) – Another Alcott novel, and this one is chock full of Elsie Dinsmore-like characters and plot points.  The movie is a lot better, with a fine cast, good music, and a good story that feels more ‘inspired by’ rather than based on the book.

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‘True Grit’ (2010) – Part of my liking the movie better than the book may have been because I watched the movie first and it followed the book so closely that the book’s sparse writing style made me feel like I was reading a script for the movie.  Whatever the reason, I much prefer ‘True Grit’, the movie to True Grit, the book.

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‘Little Dorrit’ (2008) – Partly cheating, because it’s a miniseries, but the book is as long as a miniseries, so it works.  I like how certain characters (especially John) were presented better on screen than on page.  And this version is really special to me personally, so there’s that.

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What are some movies you prefer to the books they’re based on?

Eva

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26 thoughts on “ten movies I like better than the books they’re based on

  1. Great choices. I agree with all (well, maybe not so much with “Little Women”! lol) For me, I loved “The English Patient”, “One Flew Over the Cuckoos’s Nest”, “Out of Africa” and “Girl, Interrupted” so much more than their respective books.

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  2. My mom LOVES the movie Brooklyn and she has been trying to convince me to watch it, but I do want to read the book first. I think I’ll like the movie better.

    I started HtTYD, but didn’t like it, where the movie was pretty funny!

    😀

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  3. I haven’t read the other books (besides Little Women) but I totally agree about The Inheritance. The book was short and sweet, but the movie felt like it had a tad more substance.

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  4. I definitely prefer The Inheritance film. The plot and characters are SO much better (I love your comparison of the book to Elsie Dinsmore, so perfect) the uncle is SO hilarious, the family dynamic is so cute, James has some hilarious put-downs of Ada (who is a hilariously done evil character). Plus the film is so lovely: the clothing (I’m so glad they switched the time period), the music, the setting (I liked that they switched the setting to the US).

    The book Little Dorrit, like many Dickens can get tedious, I’m not sure I would say I’d like the movie better simply because the book is slow. I do like how they make poor John better, and most of the characters are so perfectly cast, but Rigaud and his scenes FREAK ME OUT. And that crazy woman. I skipped quite a bit both when watching alone and even more with my younger siser.

    Inheritance is always the first that comes to mind to movie over book preferences, I think I may have others but I can’t think of them off the top of my head. Oh, Emma I think, maybe. Because the book has unreliable narration. Technically Emma is not the narrator, but I’ve noticed that JA wrote the story from Emma’s (very obnoxious and biased and blinded viewpoint).

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  5. Definitely agree with your basic premise; the book is NOT always better.

    – Okay so: Mary Poppins. As a child, I adored the book and loathed the movie; and while I don’t hate the film anymore, the book still has my heart 100%. There’s a certain intricacy and delicacy about the magic in the book version which just cannot be replaced, in my opinion. Some of those images have stayed with me my entire life (the star-girl who wears a piece of sky for her dress, for example), and I was MAD when the movie either failed to capture them, or left them out altogether.

    I admit it. Mary Poppins herself, in the book, isn’t very nice. But to me, as a little girl, she represented security, and safety, I guess–because she was always THERE for the kids, even when (especially when) their parents weren’t. I always felt so relieved whenever she “returned” to put things right in the household. I really loved her. I still do.

    – I still need to see Brooklyn. I also want to see Saoirse Ronan’s new movie–Lady Bird.

    – AGREED ABOUT ALCOTT’S WRITING. The preaching really gets on my nerves, too. (Especially since I *cough* don’t even agree with most of her ideas . . . *cough*)

    – I definitely like the 2008 Sense and Sensibility movie better than the book. And I STRONGLY suspect I would not enjoy the short story “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” anywhere NEAR as much as I love the movie.

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  6. This post reminds me that I really should rewatch Marry Poppins some time. Haven’t seen that movie in decades. That’s not an exaggeration. Didn’t even know it was based on a book.

    I’m the opposite way with Frankenstein. I agree that Boris Karloff is awesome (even better when he gets a speaking role in The Mummy), but I much prefer the deeper story in the original book.

    How to Train Your Dragon is a really good movie. Finally watched it not long after I finished my Disney Animation Studios blogathon, and I’ll likely watch the second after I’m done with Pixar.

    Can’t say I’m too familiar with anything else on this list.

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    • There’s at least a couple Mary Poppins books, if I remember correctly, but I’ve only read the first.

      Do you think there’s any chance of a Dreamworks Animation blogathon in your blog’s future? 🙂

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      • I’m strongly considering doing a Dreamworks blogathon after Star Wars. Although that one kind of scares me. Dreamworks Animation has some fantastic movies, but they’re not as consistent as Disney. There’s a higher concentration of duds.

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  7. I’m almost afraid to admit I don’t like ‘the little prince’ book as so many people keeps saying how good it is but I find it a bit boring. haven’t seen the movie but I might later.

    ‘how to train your dragon’ is such a great movie. I thought the book is written after the movie but since I never bother with the book, I really don’t know.

    I’ve never been a fan of ‘little women’ the book but I did read it and saw the movie as well but still, it didn’t make me like the book any better.

    I actually saw the original ‘true grit’ with john wayne which I did like but I have never read the book or saw this 2010 movie but I might check it out later.

    I do like ‘little dorrit’ miniseries – I think it’s way better than the book only because the book is so long and most of the time it seems to be spend on people I don’t like instead of little dorrit’ and yes, John Chivery is so good in the miniseries, totally adorable.

    have a lovely day.

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    • How to Train Your Dragon, the book, was written before the movie, I believe.

      And I haven’t seen the version of True Grit with John Wayne. I need to rectify that.

      I love John in the Little Dorrit miniseries. He has so much heart.

      You too!

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  8. Really enjoyed reading your list. I haven’t read most of these, other than Little Prince, which I still don’t get (maybe because I read it in French class, in French.. LOL!), and Little Women, which I loved, but haven’t read again since high school. And Frankenstein. I was given a book with that one, Dracula, and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in it, and Frankenstein was my favorite of the three stories. Used to read that quite a bit when I was in junior high and high school, though it’s been so long, I don’t remember much of it now. I should re-read it. I have a bunch of movies I liked better than the books. Laura, The Dirty Dozen, Hobbit, Von Ryan’s Express, and some others I can’t think of right now.

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    • I thought about putting Laura on the list because the movie is so, so good, but I loved the book as well.

      Surprised to see The Hobbit on your list, as most people infinitely prefer the book to the movies.

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  9. Pingback: every Best Picture Oscar winner I have seen | coffee, classics, & craziness

  10. I am right there with you on Mary Poppins! I soundly disliked the books – but the movie is cute.

    I actually didn’t are for War Horse the movie – it was a real struggle not to fall asleep – and what I’ve heard of the book, I don’t think I’d like that one either – so at least they’re even. 😛

    I actually prefer Little Women the novel to any movie adaptions – hands down. I adore her writing style. But that’s just me!

    I really like John Wayne’s version of True Grit – and from the few sentences I read from the book, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t like the book as much!

    A movie that I liked better than a book? One instantly comes to mind – The Whipping Boy!

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    • War Horse, the movie, is a little boring at times. But the book is worse.

      One big thing I dislike about Alcott’s writing is how she’ll sacrifice characters to make a moral point, something she did in both Jo’s Boys and Rose in Bloom. 😛

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