July 11, 2012

RTW: You Should See the Movie

Road Trip Wednesday is a 'Blog Carnival' where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.  

This week's topic:
What movie have you seen that actually (gasp) IMPROVED on the book? 

This one took a lot of thought, because it is truly difficult to improve upon a book by adapting it to film. I came up with a couple of examples, both of which will likely make me a target for die-hard fans of the books. I'm not going to say they necessarily improved on the book, but I will say that they made my experience with that story just that much better. So I guess they took something that was already fantastic and took it up to a whole other level of awesomeness. Make sense?

1.  The Lord of the Rings trilogy - J.R.R. Tolkien
This one I'm sure will make me Public Enemy #1 on every Tolkien nerd's hit list, to which I say: Valiroimë * I'm not going to lie, Tolkien's love of the written language sometimes turned his books into a bit of a slogfest at times for me. Dear Tolkien fans: Please don't sick a Balrog or an Uruk-hai army on me for saying this. Sincerely, A Really Big Fan Too (I promise). Watching these same paragraph-long descriptions was SO much better. There is much that is visual about LOTR, and I felt the movies took something special and turned it into something beautiful. I love absolutely everything Peter Jackson and crew did with LOTR, and they will always be personal favourites. 

2.  Jane Eyre - Charlotte Brontë
***SPOILERS AHEAD***
Let me preface this by saying that Jane Eyre is my favourite book of all-time, and there is NOTHING at all EVER that can improve upon it. But, I really enjoyed the most recent book-to-movie adaptation of this much-loved story. Truthfully, the first time around I felt it was lacking much of the gothic feel surrounding Thornfield and its bat shiz secret, and there were a couple of other things that gave me pause. It's been on Netflix for a while, so I thought I'd give it another watch and see if my opinion changed. I have to say, it really did. I loved (with a capital 'L') the way they started the movie with Jane on the moors and used flashbacks from that point on. What a fantastic way of imparting that information. I think Jane's situation lent itself well to this. She was pretty much on death's door when she landed at the Rivers', and not in her right mind given the events leading up to her departure from Thornfield. It felt logical that she'd experience one of those 'life flashing before your eyes' moments, and I feel this added something to a story that was pretty near perfect to begin with.


Let's just all agree that casting Fassbender in almost every role from now on is a great way to 'improve' upon a story.




* "Happy Hunting" in elvish—Yes, I looked this up on an elvish phrase site. Yes, I'm a dork. (Source)


34 comments:

  1. *stands with you* I managed to read LOTR but there were times when forcing myself to keep going was the only way through. The films made the necessary cuts.

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    1. The descriptions were just a little lengthy, and seriously what was the deal with Tom Bombadil??? I'm thrilled that they cut that whole thing out. I love that Peter Jackson and his crew were so faithful to the books while cutting unnecessary stuff. :)

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  2. I've always had trouble getting through high-fantasy books - maybe because of the paragraph upon paragraph of descriptions? Whatever the reason, I'm with you on LOTR!

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    1. Yeah, I'm not a high fantasy fan. The descriptions, the weird names of characters (in this case, Aragorn had like 50 million names), and so on. While I'm not sure I'd say they improved on the books, they definitely pulled out the best and made it shine.

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  3. I agree. The LOTR films were a great improvement on an over written and slow paced trilogy that could've been cut by half the number of words and still been awesome. Seriously, why is Tom Bombadil even in the book at all!?

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    1. I was thinking about Tom Bombadil when I was writing this post. I still don't quite get the point of that whole scene. I think that Tolkien went overboard with some of his descriptions, and Peter Jackson and crew were able to sum that all up visually, which was fantastic. :)

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  4. I have to agree with you about LOTR. I couldn't quite get through all the books (sorry) but I enjoyed the movies.

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    1. Giant confession: I still haven't read Return of the King. I've read the first two twice now, but by the end of The Two Towers I just couldn't do it. I respect what Tolkien wrote and loved many aspects of it, but I could have done without the wordiness. :)

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  5. I agree there was so much intensely visual information in LOTR, and Peter Jackson did a mind-bogglingly fantastic job of translating the story to film. Can't wait to see The Hobbit, too!

    And I have only seen the beginning of this version of Jane Eyre (started watching on a plane and got interrupted) but from what I saw, Fassy was in stellar form, per usual. And LOL at him being Edward---oh lord. I don't think he could handle that level of cheesiness!!

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    1. I can't wait for the The Hobbit either. :) LOTR is getting up there in years, and it still looks fantastic! I'm not sure that I can think of another director/crew that did such a great job of a book to movie adaptation.

      I cannot even fathom Fassy as Edward, but the pic was just too tempting. :)

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  6. The LOTR movies were respectfully and amazingly done. And I also enjoyed the newest Jane Eyre.

    You're right, casting the right male lead can make a great thing even better:)

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    1. I think 'respectful' is a great way of describing how they handled adapting LOTR to the film. It's amazing what they did with it and the details they incorporated and made shine. :)

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  7. I enjoyed the LotR books, but you're absolutely right about Tolkien's love of description. In fact, I remember reading and wondering how he manages to find so much to describe about trees, leaves, grass, fields, and so on. At the time, I seriously wondered if I'd ever make it as a writer because I'd NEVER be able to waffle on for so long about a forest! The movies were made by serious Tolkien fans, so I think that helped a lot. And what Jackson managed to do was step up the pace of the story by taking out irrelevant story lines, and showing what Tolkien told. So, the movies are perhaps not *better* than the books, but very useful accompaniments to the books. :)

    I've not seen any movie adaptations of JANE EYRE, but I'm intrigued with the approach you say this adaptation has taken. JANE EYRE is also one of my favorite novels, and dealing with the first part of the story as flashback is a good idea. This would certainly make it more appealing to a modern audience.

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    1. All of the tree and leaf (ha!) description was a little much. THE MYSTERIES OF UDOLPHO by Ann Radcliffe was like that too (Romantic literature = O_o sometimes). And like you, I don't think I could EVER ramble on that long about nature. I think that Tolkien was trying to create a beautiful and fantastical world and in order to do that, he needed to be wordy. I think we can thank this for why the movies were so beautiful. They had more than enough information to work with! :)

      The flashback thing with JANE EYRE worked brilliantly, I thought. I've never seen that take on the novel before, so it made it seem different than every other adaptation of the book that I've seen.

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  8. That Breaking Dawn image is shudder-worthy. :)

    I've never read the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the movies. Not something I would've thought would be for me.

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    1. Haha! I just couldn't resist with the Fassy/Edward doctoring, though the thought is definitely shudder-worthy. :D

      I think the LOTR movies brought Tolkien's stories to so many people that the books would probably never reach. They aren't exactly accessible for a large number of people, so it's great that people still get to enjoy his stories. But I suppose we can thank Tolkien's wordy descriptions for how beautiful the movies ended up being—they had plenty of descriptions to work with!

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  9. Good choice here. I tried to read LOTR, but just couldn't follow it. I loved the movies though! Absolutely stunning! I'm hoping I can say the same for The Hobbit.

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    1. I'm really looking forward to The Hobbit movie too! I think Peter Jackson and crew just did such a fantastic job creating that world in a way that was respectful to Tolkien. He gave them a lot to work with, though. :)

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    2. The Hobbit looks amazing; I don't have the patience for reading high fantasy but I really enjoyed the LotR movies.

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  10. I love the LOTR movies. They sit proudly on my shelf. I think the books sit on my book shelf too, but my hubby has told me that they are long-winded and so I haven't even tried to read them.

    Yes! Can't wait for the Hobbit movie. I don't know though, I'm kinda interested in trying to read that novel. Hmmm.

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  11. I *should* read LOTR books but all those pages put me off. And I'm not big on authors who go insane with description. It's what started putting me off the Harry Potter novels.

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  12. While I haven't seen Jane Eyre, I am complete agreement with you on the Lord of the Rings. A much better movie than books, the prose about killed me. But I watch the movie eagerly every time.

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  13. Huh, Jaime? What did you say?
    *Feeling like Natalja gazing at Antonio without a shirt when looking at the picture you have up of Fassbender*
    *Keeps on staring*
    *Finally read post*
    I haven´t watched this Jane Eyre version yet but I HAVE to :D I´ve never read the LOTR books but really liked the movies :D

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  14. I haven't read either of these... *hides in shame*

    But I did love the LOTR movies :)

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  15. A lot of people mentioned LOTR and each time I have to give myself a slap that I didn't think of it because I love the movies more than the books.

    I haven't read Jane Eyre in so long but I did like the Fassbender adaptation.

    Ah, Fassbender. (And if I ever run into him, I'm totally calling him by just his last name.)

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  16. The Wizard of Oz is another that was better than the book and the movie. Of course, it's a classic!

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  17. While I loved the LOTR books, I agree that seeing the descriptions come to life on screen was such the more pleasing experience (for me, anyway).

    Now, putting someone else's face on Rob Patt is a different matter altogether...grrr :)

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  18. As you know, I love this post. I'll be popping by periodically to check for Fassbender Compliance. I wish I could watch that movie right now. And I might have to reread the book, dang it!

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  19. Okay, so here's Alison's hide-head-in-shame moment - I've never read nor seen LOTR. I know...I need to fix that. Maybe I should see the movie first. :)

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  20. See? You were all worried about naming LOTR and I think everyone in the comments has agreed with you (I'm going to fourteenth the LOTR nomination).

    The one movie adaptation I much preferred to the book was 'The Princess Bride'. It had long been one of my favorite films, so I decided to read the book. Ugh. I wanted to throw it out of the window.

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  21. Fassbender makes every movie better - I LOVED Jane Eyre with him. I saw it on DVD a few months ago and had forgotten he was in it.

    Agree, he probably couldn't save the Twilight films. I was geeked that Michael Sheen (accomplished brit actor) was cast to play the head Voltari (in the second film), and even though he was awesome, he's hardly in it.

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