Sunday Book Club: Books Vs Movies

October 2, 2016 Sunday Book Club 48

sunday book club blog

Good Sunday morning, my friends!

This week on the Facebook, several of us were discussing the merits of various Jane Austen movie adaptations. Specifically, the great debate over which Pride and Prejudice movie is the better one. We progressed into a discussion of the BBC version of Emma as well (finally! a decent version of the book!) and then inevitably and delightfully we camped out on the Hugh Grant-Emma Thompson-Kate Winslet adaptation of Sense and Sensibility.

Can I just say how much I adore that movie?

It came out when I was in college and I have lost track of how many times I’ve watched it since then. (It’s been a lot of years since I was in college, in case you were wondering.)

So many fantastic things to love about this particular adaptation, not the least of which is the combination of Professor Umbridge and Dr. House as minor characters.  And…. if I can get away with this rather risky statement… I actually in this case the movie is better than the book *gasp*. (Another one I’d put in that category is The Notebook.)

On the other hand… not all book to movie adaptations are winners. At least not to the people who’ve read the book so many times the cover is practically falling apart. I’m a little nervous about this new Anne of Green Gables movie for that very reason.

Ok, now it’s your turn. What are some of your favorite – and least favorite – book to movie adaptations? Are there any movies you actually enjoyed more than the books?


48 Responses to “Sunday Book Club: Books Vs Movies”

  1. Melony Teague

    Oh! I am so glad you brought this up…. why, I watched that particular Movie ( Sense and Sensibility with Emma Thompson) last night. I love that version…..such a great cast. I also love the Colin Firth version of Pride and Predjudice. Although, to be fair, I can’t compare them to the books, since I have not read them. ( must fix that)

    You asked what movies were better than the book…. well….
    Does ” the Grinch” count?

  2. Rachel Dixon

    Oh boy…I will try and not get too long winded. Lord of the Rings was great. But the hobbit…is good…but not if compared to the books. There are things that bug me in the hunger games and harry potter that aren’t similar to the books. The Princess Bride was a long winded book…so I do enjoy the movie better. But it’s a great book(S. Morgenstern is fictional FYI…William Goldman is the author). I think I should stop here…Hahaha…

    • Carrie

      Harry Potter and The Hobbit sort-of have to be taken separate from the books lol. Good on their own. But not faithful book adaptations

      • Rachel Dixon

        Yeeeeees… I learned after reading The Hunger Games and watching the movie the next day… That I need to stop comparing. And enjoy the books for the books and the movies for the movies. Because if I compare I will ALWAYS be disappointed.

    • Buffy Scott

      So I agree that most of the Harry Potter Movies weren’t strict on some things – which is to be expected as they are long books. I have to say that the last 2 movies I felt really did the book justice. Especially Part 1, it was so long & tedious & at one point I almost turned it off until I remembered how the first half of Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows was boring & tedious & I almost gave it up too!

      I can’t really comment much on The Hunger Games as I did not like the book at all.

      • Carrie

        I wouldn’t have minded so much that they left things out – that’s to be expected. It’s that they changed things unnecessarily. Made characters or scenes different when they didn’t need to, etc.

  3. Rachael Merritt

    The one instance I find this totally true is Emma. No matter which version I’ve seen, I really prefer it to the book. The Sense and Sensibility movie is excellent. It’s music is one particular reason I really enjoy that movie. That and the Masterpiece Theater P&P are incredibly close to the book, I love it when that occurs. I can’t say, though, that those are better than the book. The old War and Peace with Audrey Hepburn might be another, but I got bored with the book and have yet to finish. A goal of mine is to eventually finish that book. Ben Hur is a tremendous read, and I dont think any movie will compare. That is my favorite book….so well done that no movie will ever be able to touch it. I’m very, very leery of a new Anne movie. I know the current favorite doesn’t follow the book, but I can’t imagine another Anne or Gil- ever!

    • Carrie

      I agree completely about Anne – it’s just too soon for a new movie

  4. Andrea Stephens

    As I have been re-reading or listening to those classics you mentioned and more. I have to agree with what you said. Hugh Grant-Emma Thompson-Kate Winslet version of Sense and Sensibility is better than the book. I have not yet found a better than the book movie version of Jane Eyre, there are some that are good but most leave too much out.
    Harry Potter books are SO much better than the movies and I love the movies. Again they just leave too much out. I agree with you about the Notebook and I believe Nicholas Sparks has gone too Hollywood when it comes to his books now so I won’t read him again. Nanny McPhee is better than the books it was based on. Then there’s Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang, the movie is a completely different story from the books. I am also worried about the new Anne of Green Gables movie. I’m pretty sure it won’t be able to top the Megan Follows-Colleen Dewhurst version which was so good. (I have to say I hated the 3rd installment of the Meghan Follows “Anne” movie, it was not true to the book series as the first 2 had been.) And because it’s October, I have to mention Arsenic and Old Lace with Cary Grant, though not technically a book but a play in print I read. The movie is the BEST! I’ll stop here cause I could go on an on. 😉

    • Rachael Merritt

      Agree on the third!! Meagan Follows didn’t even come across as Anne, and I must admit part of the ending made one wonder if she really wanted Gilbert. Didn’t like at all! Glad to not be the only one.:)

    • Carrie

      Oh my goodness!!! I adore that movie!!! Haha! I need to watch that again soon 😀

  5. DeAnna Dodson

    ACK! YES to Cary Grant and all the rest of the wonderful actors and actresses in Arsenic and Old Lace. I did see it in play form one time (granted it was only local theater) and of course it couldn’t compare. If you haven’t seen this movie (especially in October) go watch it now. I’ll wait.

    Love the Colin Firth version of P&P (especially when he’s so flustered to see her, he keeps asking if her family are well . . . hee hee). Don’t know if it’s better than the book. I think they’re two equally great things.

    And, for me, so much of the “which is better” question depends on whether I saw the movie or read the book first.

    • Carrie

      Oh that’s a good point – which you encountered first does play a role, I think

  6. Katy C.

    I loved North and South as a movie, but definitely prefer the book. Totally agree on Sense & Sensibility being better in the Emma Thompson movie version than the book. The Colin Firth Pride & Prejudice is great (but not *better* than the book) and I also really enjoyed the Keira Knightley version – but I can’t think about the book when I’m watching it because it’s too different. Oooh…Little Women…The one with Winona Ryder is one of my favorite movies ever, but I saw it before I read the book, otherwise I’m not sure if I would like it as much (And Christian Bale is NOT Batman – He is Laurie. =]) I couldn’t stand Anne of Green Gables (I know that’s almost blasphemous) – the first movie was okay but after that they got progressively less faithful to the books and the third movie just made me really mad… I also didn’t like the Love Comes Softly movies because they strayed too far from the books. I also totally agree with Andrea on Jane Eyre – the last version I tried to watch I didn’t even finish because they changed Jane’s personality. I love that the Grinch was mentioned! The version with Boris Karloff is my dad’s favorite movie (along with McKlintock – no kidding!) so we watched it a lot. The Grinch isn’t the same without Boris Karloff. Not what you asked, but I would love to see the BBC make a movie version of some of Georgette Heyer’s novels. The BBC does a good job and Georgette Heyer has lots of great material!

    • DeAnna Dodson

      Yes, the Grinch isn’t the Grinch if he isn’t Boris Karloff. I know a lot of people liked the live-action Grinch movie, but I didn’t. I loved how in the cartoon they don’t really give him a backstory. He’s just the Grinch. His Grinch-ness is who he is until he realizes there’s more to life. 😀

      And a HUGE, GINORMOUS YES to having Heyer’s books made into movies. Yes, yes, yes, YES! With Richard Armitage as the deceptively laid-back hero. :::dreamy sigh, spine melts into a puddle of sparkly pink gelatinous goo:::

      • Carrie

        I very very rarely like anything that Jim Carrey is in… the only exception to that is The Truman Show. Ummmm…. YES PLEASE to the Richard Armitage!

        • DeAnna Dodson

          I don’t know if there are ANY movie adaptations of Heyer’s works, and I totally don’t understand why. She’s fabulous.

          And Richard Armitage? He ought to be in everything. All the time. He won’t last forever, people!

    • Carrie

      Oh! I can’t watch the Love Comes Softly movies! I agree.

      • DeAnna Dodson

        I’ve seen only the first LCS movie, and I liked it okay. I just couldn’t get through the book! The attempt to recreate a country accent phonetically just ruined it for me. Usually a hint here and there of accent and word choice is enough to have a reader “hear” it.

        • Carrie

          The first LCS movie was fine – they really should have stopped there 😉 To be honest, I haven’t read the LCS series since high school. It was the first Christian fiction I ever read and started me down the path that led to all of this so it has a special place in my heart BUT I wonder if when I pick it up to read it again at some point in the near future I’ll feel the same as I did or more like you. Because I’m with you on the accent thing usually.

          • DeAnna Dodson

            I didn’t try to read LCS until late in my Christian fiction journey. Tried and failed. I’m sure there’s a reason it’s one of the all-time bestsellers, but I may never know what that reason is. 😉

      • Andrea Stephens

        I can’t watch those movies either. Did you know Janette Oke does not get a penny for any of the movies or tv shows? That just doesn’t seem right.

      • Andrea Stephens

        This has been a great conversation. When I homeschooled my daughter, I had her do book to movie compare and contrast reports. She had to read the book and watch at least 2 movie versions if they were available. She liked the books better with the exception of Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang. She liked the movie better.

        • Carrie

          Oh that IS interesting! And yes, this has been a really fun discussion today!!! I’m enjoying everyone’s weighing in 😀

  7. Beckie B.

    Favorite movie adaptation — Persuasion with Ciaran Hinds and Amanda Root. I thought it was very faithful to my all time favorite Austen novel. Least favorite — Count of Monte Cristo with James Caviezel. The ending was changed!!? I spent hours telling my kids what a great book it is only to be torpedoed by a sappy and unredeeming ending!!!! No, I’m not still bitter. LOL.

    • Carrie

      I loved The Count of Monte Cristo movie! BUT I had to separate it from the book. I had to approach it as something that really only shared the title lol. And yes – that Persuasion adaptation is one of the very best Austen adaptations out there!

  8. Pam Crist

    I emphatically agree about the movie versions of Jane Eyre! None of them have come close except for the one with Orson Wells, which may have been the first one. The last one with Mia Can’t-Pronounce-Her-Last-Name was the worst. The character of Grace Poole had only an itsy-bitsy part, and I think she is one of the most eerie, scary, fearsome characters ever! I read Little Women as a little girl and have never like any of the movies. I can also add Gone With The Wind. I love both the book and the movie. Totally. But, again, I read the book first as a thirteen-year-old and didn’t see the movie until my junior year in high school. So much was different in the movie! Still love it, but I would have loved to see Scarlett’s other children in the movie. Oh, and Arsenic And Old Lace!!! Love it! It never gets old. My oldest son, when he was a little boy, called it “Arsenic And Old Ladies” by mistake, but I guess he wasn’t far off!

    • Carrie

      hahahaha!! Yes, that title would work nicely too LOL

  9. Buffy Scott

    Just a note as to why probably we all love the Grant-Thompson-Winslet-Rickman Sense and Sendibilty.

    I watched an interview with Julian Fellows – he has directed many, many, many Austen book-to-movies. When asked about Sense & Sensibilty he said in the book he felt that Jane had failed to present Col. Brandon as having truly won the heart of Marianne. That she had almost left the book incomplete. However, in the movie Col. Brandon shows us his deep kindness & regard for Marianne – reading to her poetry, buying her a piano forte – that we see him win her heart!

    As for movies vs. books. I’m one of those rare breeds of readers in that I separate the two & rarely compare the book to the movie. I expect that there will be changes to the movie for sake of time, the actors & actresses might not line up with what I imagined. The only times I hate a movie over a book is when they change major parts in the setting & plot >:(

    I do adore the JJ Fields (actor) Northanger Abbey film & Austenland the movie was just has hilarious as the book.

    I hated the book Hunger Games & The Notebook too, so it really isn’t a surprise that I didn’t like the movies either.

    • Carrie

      Austenland! Yes! Loved both the book & the movie haha!

  10. Carolyn Miller

    Love the Colin Firth P&P & the Megan Followes Anne (but not the two sequels) bc they had time enough to explore the stories properly (Keira Knightly’s P&P was too short to tell the story in full).
    I know directors bring their own slant to a film version of a book, but the book needs to still be recognizable:) (unlike Anne: the continuing story- what the?!)
    I agree with the above comment about Georgette Heyer -SO many good stories of hers should be filmed!

  11. Melony Teague

    Who else wants them to make a movie out of “Five Days in Skye”? Just me and Carrie? ( we have read the book!)