Good Books = Good Movies?

One of my MFA compatriots, Bryan Johnson, recently wrote about film adaptations of novels and this week a few new publicity photos and an “insider scoop” about two novel-to-film adaptations coming up got me thinking this week…

Two of my favorite modern novels, The Road by Cormac McCarthy and The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold, have film adaptations coming out this winter. Both are bleak, emotional stories with subject matter the public-at-large may find difficult to witness on the screen even if they were both bestsellers (The Road scored McCarthy the Pulitzer Prize, and I think both are Oprah Book Club selections). Sometimes when I hear a studio is turning a book into a movie I cringe because the end results could be pretty disastrous. In these two cases, solid directors have me confident and eager to see the movies: John Hillcoat (The Proposition) is taking on The Road and Peter Jackson’s made The Lovely Bones his pet project all year.

Some good books have had some pretty bad adaptations. Elmore Leonard’s The Big Bounce was pretty awful and Be Cool really could have benefited from the great director+screenwriter combo that Get Shorty got with Barry Sonnenfeld and Scott Frank. Stephen King adaptations are hit (The Shawshank Redemption) or miss (Maximum Overdrive). My thoughts on Jaws are in the comment section of Bryan Johnson’s blog post. The one movie that is hands-down better than its novel counterpart? Last of the Mohicans. That book can go die.

How about you? Have you read The Road or The Lovely Bones? Does the prospect of film adaptations frighten you away or keep you intrigued? Do you have favorite books you know would make a great (or terrible) film? Is anything in the pipeline that makes you cringe?

And if you think there are books out there that should never be adapted into a film, check out this list of what shouldn’t be a movie, according to Cracked.


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