by Lee Cross
“The book is always better than the movie.” That’s what they say and, if I’m being honest, that’s what I believe too.
Not always true of course, let’s read into the record Fight Club, an excellent book certainly but David Fincher, Brad Pitt, Edward Norton and Helena Bonham Carter each help to take the movie far beyond the page.
Other good examples are the adaptations of Phillip K Dick stories; Blade Runner is a timeless classic, and there’s not to many Sci-Fi movies that you can say that about; given that they’re usually reliant on the special effects of their day.
As I think on it, the one thing that all the exceptional movie adaptations appear to have in common, is that they are based on short stories/novels. I’m readily sure this point can be argued by people who watch a lot more movies than I, but it’s the feeling I have nonetheless.
(I’m sure some people are thinking of The Lord of the Rings about now. Casting aside the fact that I personally dislike those movies, I would wiling have words with anyone who thinks the movies are superior to the source material; the words would be, “Are you bloody stupid.”)
So, yesterday I went to see The Dark Tower in the cinema, truthfully an adaptation I could NEVER see being made.
Since I first read Wizard and Glass in 97 (I bought it with my paper round money), I could never imagine how a movie could be made. Back then the special effects, or movie budgets, just didn’t exist to do books of such an epic scope justice.
The commercial and critical success of LOTR obviously shook my belief but I still couldn’t imagine it, mostly because the plot develops slowly, which is in no way a criticism, in fact that particular style of the build-up is one the reasons the book(s) are good.
Game of Thrones, which is huge here in Ireland, made me reconsider again, simply because Stephen King’s writing is far superior, and producers in ‘the golden age television’, as I’ve heard it described, are constantly putting out shows where you have to watch every episode; and more importantly, viewers seem willing to put in the effort.
What I don’t understand, is why would Hollywood try and squeeze in seven books, or more than 3500 pages, of writing into 90mins; how can they possibly hope to do the writing justice?
Now, I’m not slating this particular movie (although I do think it’s crap), I just find it strange how movie studios always come across highly successful novels and think, “this will make a great movie”. And then make something completely different, who exactly are they marketing their movie to.
The Dark Tower provides a perfect example, the poster reads, “All hail The Crimson King.” I defy anyone who hasn’t read the books to know who The Crimson King is, and I defy anyone who loved the books to understand why the movie was made.
Usually I’d think, “well at least this might encourage folk to read the books”, but if you’d enjoyed this movie, then I can’t swear you’ll enjoy the source material.
Is the book is always better than the movie? Yes – but mostly because Hollywood doesn’t go to enough trouble to respect the people who’ve actually read the book.