How often have we all heard or spoken that line? Be it a classic or a New York Times Bestseller, the movie rarely lives up to our lofty ideals. It’s not a new thing, either. Following is a list of movies, which, in my opinion did not live up to their books, starting with-gasp!–Pride and Prejudice. The 1940 version.
I also found it necessary to defend my choices, but bear in mind that these are entirely my opinions, not meant to offend or tear apart anyone’s favorite movie.
- Pride and Prejudice (1940): Yes, I know. I write a blog about Jane Austen, and my first choice is P&P ’40. My main problem with this movie is the costumes. They appear to be directly out of Gone With the Wind. My other problem is that Laurence Olivier, while probably closer to what Jane Austen intended Mr. Darcy to look like, did not live up to my standards. But all in all, it’s not that bad. Before we move on to the next movie, take a look at this Polish poster for P&P.
2. The Parent Trap (both editions): I’m willing to bet you didn’t even know they were based on a book. In all fairness, it’s a German one from the 1940s known as Das Doppelte Lottchen. Translated, this comes to “The Double Lottie”. Apparently, it was translated into English as “Lottie and Lisa” (learn something new every day, I guess. I’ve only ever read it in German). To this day, it remains one of my all-time favorite books.
The basic plotline, so you can compare it to the American movies, goes something like this: Luise and Lotte meet at summer camp, Seebühl am Bühlsee, and discover that they look exactly alike (check). Neither has any knowledge of the other, and they both have a deep dislike for each other (double check). After spending some forced time together, they become friends, and after comparing notes, realize that their stories match up almost perfectly (so far,so good): Lotte and her mother have lived in Munich since her mother’s divorce, and Luise and her father, the famed conductor Ludwig Palfy, have lived in Vienna since the father’s divorce, which incidentally occurred at the same time (This is where the movies begin to digress from the book)
So, what else do two suspected identical twins do? Switch places, of course! Luise goes to Munich, where she learns to cook, and Lotte goes to Vienna, where she discovers that the housekeeper’s been fudging the books (nope, not in the movies). The strain proves too much, however, and Lotte becomes seriously ill, to the point where Maestro Palfy stops conducting to stay home with her (still not in the movies). Meanwhile in Munich, the mother discovers that she’s had the wrong daughter with her, makes a phone call to Vienna…and the ending here sort of lines up with the movies.
If, however, you would like to watch the German 1950 version of the story…you’re in for a treat.
3. Anne of Green Gables (1985) Yes, I love this movie, but it didn’t live up to my imagination. This is partly due to the fact that reading a book is very much like watching a movie to me. My already overly active imagination simply takes the words and creates a highly realistic world which I proceed to live in. While the costumes, the actors, all the cinematographic details are superb, the events are a little fuzzy for my taste.
4. Anne of Green Gables, The Sequel: Once again, costumes and actors are wonderful. But I wanted to curl up and moan at the events depicted in the movie. While they get the gist of the story, everything is so jumbled, with extra characters, events, and the notable absence of one Roy Gardner (and his replacement, Morgan Harris! No. Just… no.) But Anne and Gil end up together at the end, which is how Lucille Montgomery intended it anyways 😉
5. Anne of Green Gables: The Continuing Story. I have a bone to pick with this one. It’s not that I have any personal vendetta against this movie, it’s just that it gets everything so very wrong. Aside from that, the story’s fine, the actors are back (and they used the same ones, which warms my heart) and the costumes are superb (you may have noticed that I have a thing for costumes). However, this movie includes what my friend, who introduced me to this movie, calls “The most ridiculous scene in movie history.” The scene in question is this one where Anne, holding a baby, is yelling after Gil, who is– bombs and stress not withstanding–definitely within earshot.
Since this one isn’t actually based on a book, I’m a little iffy on including it here, but since it holds elements of Rilla of Ingleside and is a sequel to the other two, I thought it should be mentioned.
Don’t get me wrong; I am actually quite fond of all of the above mentioned movies. But I think the rule of thumb with movie adaptations is to approach them the way you would well-written fan fiction: with some caution, but also a small amount of excitement to see what the author has done.
And what happens, you ask, when the movie is better than the book? Well, I think we’ve just found the topic of my next post!
Do you agree with any of my selections?
Do you think I missed any?
Have you ever seen a movie that was better than the book?