Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish and now hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. For the rules see her blog.
This week’s topic is Page to Screen Freebie (Books that became movies/TV shows, movies that became books, great adaptations, bad ones, books you need to read before watching their movie/TV show, movies you loved based on books you hated or vice versa, books you want to read because you saw the movie or vice versa, etc.)
I don’t often enjoy an adaptation if I’ve read the book first, but the other way round works well. So my choice this week includes examples of both.
First film/TV adaptations I saw before I read the books – and I loved both:
The Shining by Stephen King – I saw the film first with Jack Nicolson as Jack Torrance, which terrified me. I remember his crazed face as he rampaged through the hotel, the sense of evil and terror, and I decided that was enough – I wouldn’t read the book. Then later on I changed my mind. An I thoroughly enjoyed the book, picturing the characters as they are in the film.
Gone with the Wind I saw the 1939 film many, many years ago and my memories of it are vague, not much beyond its setting, Clark Gable as Rhett Butler and Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O’Hara, and a few quotes: ‘Tomorrow is another day‘ and ‘Frankly, my dear I don’t give a damn‘. The book, which I read only a few years ago is very readable, although long, and I loved it – still seeing Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh as Rhett and Scarlett.
The Help by Kathryn Stockett – I watched the film at my local cinema. The audience laughed, and then sighed at the poignant moments as the film rolled on and even if I couldn’t quite catch all the words I thought it was brilliant. Then I read the book – as good as the film is, the book is even better because there is so much more in it, the characters are so well-defined, so believable, and the tension caused by the contrast between the black maids and their white employers is so appalling that I didn’t want to stop reading.
When we began watching the HBO TV series, A Game of Thrones I was hooked and once we finished watching I immediately wanted to read the series and began with A Song of Fire and Ice George R. R. Martin’s first book in the series. The actors and scenery were perfect for my reading of the book, although there are some differences (the ages of the Stark children for example). I loved both the book and the TV series.
Way back in 2008 I watched The 39 Steps on TV with Rupert Penry-Jones as Richard Hannay, so inevitably as I read The Thirty-Nine Steps I could see Penry-Jones as Hannay. The dramatisation, however, although there are similarities, is different from John Buchan’s book. There are a number of historical inaccuracies and some artistic licence was used – none of which I was aware of as I watched the film and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It made me want to read the book.
Next a couple of films that I watched that have made me want to read the books they are based on, but I’ve yet to read the books:
Lincoln – with Daniel Day Lewis as Abraham Lincoln. The film is loosely based on the biography by Doris Kearns Goodwin – Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln. I enjoyed the film so much I just had to buy the book.
I watched The Theory of Everything, with Eddie Redmayne playing the part of Stephen Hawking. It’s adapted from the memoir Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen by Jane Hawking. I think it’s a brilliant film and I’m hoping the memoir will be just as good.
Books I read first and then watched the TV version:
Raven Black by Ann Cleeves, a 2006 novel that I read in 2010, listened to on the radio and watched The BBC adapted Raven Black for television in 2014, as the first and second episodes in the second series of Shetland, starring Douglas Henshall as Jimmy Perez and Brian Cox as Magnus Tait (renamed Magnus Bain). I prefer the book and her later Shetland books although, of course, the locations are beautiful in the TV adaptations.
I loved Elizabeth Gaskell’s Cranford when I read the book. The TV adaptation disappointed me even with Judy Dench’s wonderful performance as Missy Matty. As I watched it I kept thinking that’s not how it is in the book and that’s because it’s an amalgamation of three books – Cranford, Mr Harrison’s Confessions and My Lady Ludlow. The cast includes many well known actors and I enjoyed all their performances, although at one point it did feel a bit like spot the stars.
Partners in Crime is a collection of Tommy and Tuppence stories by Agatha Christie. Tommy and Tuppence Beresford first appeared in Agatha Christie’s The Secret Adversary (first published in 1922) when they had just met up after World War One, both in their twenties. Their next appearance is in Partners in Crime, a collection of short stories, first published in 1929. I was very disappointed by the TV version, with David Walliams playing Tommy as a bumbling fool and Jessica Raine as a meddling and determined Tuppence. Most of it bore no resemblance to the original.