The primary approach of a book is the story it seeks to narrate. But the novel is not a mere story. It is indeed a total art, a graphic impression. Thus when novels are adapted into movies, this art and this impression goes a long way to secure its attractiveness. Here is a small attempt to acknowledge some of the greatest novels that were made into movies, the art that makes the stories alive!
Psycho (Directed by Alfred Hitchcock | Novel by Robert Bloch)
Alfred Hitchcock bought the rights to adapt Robert Bloch’s thriller novel, Psycho, in 1959, the same year that it was published. The tour de force that the film proved to be, is not hidden from anyone. The apprehension and the suspense that the movie created was nothing short of the anxiety the novel conjured to bind its readers. Though Hitchcock did not divert much from the novel, there are places where the story and the feature film are slightly out of sync. For instance, the novel shows three different personalities of Norman; whereas the movie explores only two sides of his troubled persona and throws very little light on the rational side of Bates. Moreover, while the novel describes Bates as a middle-aged bachelor, Anthony Perkins’ Norman, is a youth bearing little resemblance to Bloch’s Bates. It is crucial to point out that the movie has beautifully held up the damaged relation Norman shared with his mother and successfully retains the flavour of the book.
[In the year 2013, Carlton Cuse, Kerry Ehrin and Anthony Cipriano composed a TV series, Bates Motel, which is a contemporary prequel to Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 film Psycho.]
Godfather (Directed by Francis Ford Coppola | Based on The Godfather by Mario Puzo)
Due to time limitations, exploring the depths of the novel a movie tries to adapt becomes virtually impossible. Coppola’s narration shifts a little from that of Puzo’s in some areas. The plot of the movie orbits around the Corleone family and its members and reduces the other characters like Johnny Fontane, Amerigo Bonasera, and Nino Valenti to mere auxiliaries.
It also leaves background stories, which are part of the novel, like past of Vito Corleone for the sequel and completely does away with certain moments which are discussed in the novel at length. Mario Puzo had helped with screenplay along with Coppola and Robert Towne. Thus with Puzo on board, it was impossible for the movie to lack the essence of the book. The film brings out character of Vito Corleone magnificently and portrays crisis convincingly, making the movie and book excellent companions to each other. Also checkout our Godfather T-Shirt Collection.
The Da Vinci Code (Directed by Ron Howard | Story by Dan Brown)
When Dan Brown’s thriller was adapted into a movie, director Ron Howard remained committed to the diegesis of the novel. However, key difference between book and movie lay in the treatment of Sophie. The novel pivots around the life of Sophie, her past, and her family. The movie gives more importance to Robert Langdon’s assistance to solve the murder mystery of Sophie’s grandfather. Another striking dissimilarity between the novel and the feature film was man at church whom we see at the end of the movie. In the book, this man turns out to be Sophie’s brother. Movie, on the contrary, makes him look like just another person who works at the church. Yet another vital change that movie made was with cryptex. Instead of showing two cryptexes, movie retained one which opens with the word “apple”. Book certainly is more detailed but in spite of these changes, the film successfully builds up the suspense and by end leaves audience in a state of awe.
The Lord of the Rings (Directed by Peter Jackson | Based on The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien)
To attempt to reconstruct the majestic sword and sorcery of The Lord Of The Rings is a colossal task. So when Director Peter Jackson recreated it into a screenplay it was obvious to be manifested by large-scale changes, for instance, Jackson did not follow Tolkien’s timeline of events. Principal characters like Glorfindel and Tom Bombadil were absent, and significant portions of the story had gone truanting. The characters of Elrond, Aragorn, and Gandalf were consequentially remoulded. The Two Towers made more shifts in character and minor plot elements were made more significant.
Twilight (Directed by Catherine Hardwicke, Chris Weitz, David Slade and Bill Condon | Based on Twilight Series by Stephenie Meyer)
The Twilight Saga is a series of five romance fantasy films based on four novels by author Stephenie Meyer. Movie maintains a faster pace than books by eliminating details and excellently creates and explores the relation between Edward and Bella. Although character of Bella is portrayed as an introvert whereas she is shown as headstrong in the book, the depiction of fantasy remains true to that of the book and the movie series remains loyal to the basic ideas of Meyer. Movie Twilight (2008) seems to be such a great companion to book series, that New York Press has commended Hardwicke’s attempt as a “bronte-esque vision”. While The Twilight Saga: New Moon (2009) had earned the title of an “entertaining fantasy”, The Hollywood Reporter reviewed The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (2010) saying that movie “nails it”. Breaking Dawn – Part 1 was mostly adversely reviewed by critics. Breaking Dawn – Part 2, on the other hand, managed to do some damage control and mustered a mixed reception which was much more appreciative than Part 1.