I do this assignment after reading The Crucible with my high school juniors. They cast the movie, pick some songs for the soundtrack, come up with a tag line, and then make a movie poster to advertise for their movie. This leads to some strange results. Think Bill Clinton as John Proctor with Hillary as Elizabeth and Monica Lewinsky as Abigail Williams. You have to admire the extent of their historical knowledge. But no matter how terrible their versions of the movie are, once I show them the film version, other than their relief that they're watching a movie in school that's in color, they all think their versions were better. Of course Will Smith makes a better John Proctor than that goofy old what's-his-name.
So, when YA Highway's Road Trip Wednesday asks our favorite movie that was better than the book, they're asking a nearly impossible question to answer. But alas, I can think of two. And I might get blasted for both.
The first is kind of obvious--The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. Those who watch the movies and complain about them being too long and drawn out have obviously never read the books. Sure, they're classics and must reads, and I don't think I'd want to change a word, but...let's just say Tolkien is a bit long-winded. Was he being paid by the word? And that whole thing with the weird guy that lived in a tree that just slows down the whole exciting journey? I'm glad Peter Jackson cut him out.
I have a strong imagination, but somehow while reading the books I found myself picturing a childish cartoon of a war in comic book color with the hobbits played by Jim Henson puppets. I think The Dark Crystal overly influenced my reading. Creepy. Seeing the epic battles and scenery in live action with great acting, amazing effects, and unbelievably dramatic timing brought the world of Middle Earth alive much more than my imagination could. Fo sho!
The second is The Shining. Sure Kubrick's film was far different than King's novel (in fact, I've heard some say they really aren't much of the same thing at all.), but I kind of liked that. Kubrick was creepier. He realized that with a movie you have the advantage of visuals, of imagery through the eyes, not the mind. You watch that movie, and there are so many images that are left frozen in your mind forever: the blood river in the elevator, the creepy twin girls, "Redrum" in the mirror, the corpse-like woman in the bath tub, the little boy peddling down the hall. It's amazing how well Kubrick used the medium of film to take what King did so well in print and reinvent it. Both are terrifying. Both are memorable. But they both were able to do what they did in the perfect way for the medium both were using. Quite remarkable. I know I've been scarred for life.
As a writer, though, I've heard authors talking about being sellouts for letting Hollywood corrupt their masterpieces. Not I. Sure I've yet to have a novel even published, but I can't think of a better tribute to me, my story, and my characters than to see them on the big screen. I'll be at the opening, tears in my eyes...
Criticizing every single change, of course.