In his latest post Do Android Books Dream of Electric Movies Eyeris (or Mike the Man) talks about movie adaptations of books and whether it's best to read the books before watching the movies.
He thinks reading should definitely come first and I agree with him. Having said that, I think I'd have enjoyed The Lord of the Rings movies more if I'd not read the books first. As it is, I still haven't forgiven Peter Jackson for his depiction of ... well, lots of things. And I'm not even a big fan of Tolkien!
Mike is, however, right to say that reading allows you to come up with your own vision of a story, and at least I can cling on to my own idea of LOTR and not be haunted forevermore by the image of village idiots when I think of Pippin and Merry, or heaving breasts when I picture Arwen.
Anyway, I thought I'd list my favourite movie/TV adaptations of books. Do write and tell me yours.
Breakfast at Tiffany's
Starring Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard
It's only very superficially like the book (by Truman Capote) and I can't forgive Mickey Rooney, with eye make-up, being passed off as Japanese, but it has its own charm; Hepburn sparkles as usual; and I love the scene in which she sings Moon River. Henry Mancini got that right anyway!
The Death of a Heart
Starring Patricia Hodge and Nigel Havers
An extremely faithful and perfectly cast TV adaptation of Elizabeth Bowen's novel, The Death of the Heart. The characters look and the scenes play out exactly how I imagine when I read the book.
Pride and Prejudice
Starring Elizabeth Garvie and David Rintoul
I preferred this TV adaptation to the 90s one that starred Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle. For a start, David Rintoul is much more convincing as Darcy.
All the President's Men
Starring Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford
The book, by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, put me to sleep, but maybe being 10 when I tried to read it didn't help. Loved the movie though. It's the only film in which I think Dustin Hoffman looks sexy. And it's so funny, in this day of being expected to tape all one's interviews, to see journalists being asked if they're written down quotes. Their response: "Yes! I got everything down, almost verbatim!" is hilarious (to me).
The Joy Luck Club
Starring Ming Na Wen
I enjoyed the movie as much as I love the book. The ending in both versions always makes me cry.
Starring Meryl Streep
I was traumatised by the book and the movie, but Streep is just so good in it. I think it's her best ever performance, but I can't watch it ever again as it depresses me too much.
Starring Leslie Caron and Louis Jourdan
The movie (based on the novella by Colette) is one of my Top 5 favourite musicals of all time. Martin thinks it's a bit dodgy considering how the hero Gaston is pulling Gigi's pigtails one minute and wanting to bed her the next, not to mention the fact that she's being groomed by her aunt to be a courtesan! I just think it's very romantic. I love the songs and the way Gaston redeems himself in the end.
I can't think of anymore right now (this is Day 3 of a real killer of a migraine), but I will mention one of the worst TV adaptations I have ever seen. It's the 1983 TV series of Jane Austen's Mansfield Park. This is my least favourite Austen anyway as I find Fanny Price tiresome, but the actor who plays her makes her seem much worse. Dim is the word that springs to mind! The1999 movie also got her totally wrong.
P.S. Thursday, December 16
Flambards!!! I so loved this mini-series, but Martin remembers it as tacky (His description: "It's abt this young girl who goes to live with relatives and she's the only female for miles around so all the guys fall in love with her even though she's ugly.") so I need to watch it again, just to be certain. I remember it being very true to the KM Peyton novels, which I adore, especially Edge of the Cloud. (The other books are Flambards, Flambards in Summer and Flambards Divided.)