10 Films That Barely Resemble the Books They’re Based on

Adapting a book into a film is hard, which is why some filmmakers just say “Forget it,” and make their own movie while paying lip service to the source material. Sometimes this cavalier attitude leads to some surprisingly amazing films. Let’s check out 10 of these films that have almost nothing in common with the books they come from.

1. Blade Runner

You could write a book about all the changes filmmakers have made in their adaptations of Philip K. Dick’s novels. I’ll focus on the first (and arguably most famous) adaptation: Blade Runner. Director Ridley Scott barely even included Dick in the production of this film. Scott hated the term “android” and, unfortunately, Dick’s book was entitled “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” He substituted the word “replicant” for “android” and made numerous other changes, such as excising the whole animal subplot. The film (in all its permutations) barely resembles the story Dick crafted, but it manages to remain true to the book’s style and atmosphere. Dick saw a cut of the film shortly before he died, and he expressed his approval of it. It’s too bad he couldn’t have lived another 20 or 30 years to see the legacy his work had on science fiction films.

2. The Bourne Identity (2002)

Jason Bourne starts out unconscious in The Bourne Identity.Jason Bourne lies unconscious and half-dead in the Mediterranean Sea, having lost his memory. From there, the book and 2002 film version of The Bourne Identity diverge wildly. Robert Ludlum’s book is a Cold War spy thriller, and it involves a lot of misunderstandings and Bourne posing as a spy to try to kill a real one. The film is mostly about Bourne trying to escape from his CIA superiors who are trying to kill him for no good reason. Ironically, the fact that the film and book are so different from each other seems to reinforce the main character’s dichotomy.

3. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond, wrote one children’s book in his life: Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang: The Magical Car. It’s about an inventor who works with Scotland Yard to hunt down criminals with his family. The movie feels like a prequel to the book. In the movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, the inventor tries and fails to get some candy mass-produced, but he manages to soup up an old racecar, which he and his children use to go on an adventure in a magical land. All of that could be the precursor to the book’s events. Either way, it’s a fun ride.

4. Fletch

Fletch is laid back in the movie, not so much in the book.The 1985 Chevy Chase comedy Fletch is a hilarious sendup of serious crime dramas, which is ironic because the novel it is based on is a serious crime drama. The filmmakers decided to cut out the prostitution, drug addiction, and many of the darker elements of the book when they translated it into a film, and instead emphasized the more comedic aspects. No complaints here. I read the book at age 14, thinking it would be as fun as the movie. I was in for a real shock. The book is definitely good, and it uses a lot of gripping plot devices to keep you engaged and wondering what will happen right up to the end. But it is rather depressing. It ends completely differently from the film, but I won’t spoil it for you if you prefer the film’s lighthearted ending.

5. How to Train Your Dragon

Astrid and Hiccup fly with Hiccup's best friend Toothless.So there’s this kid named Hiccup and he has a pet dragon named Toothless. And there’s a villain called the Green Death. That’s all I can think of that the book How to Train Your Dragon has in common with the movie of the same name. In the book, Toothless is tiny and the plot revolves around Hiccup trying to train him so he won’t be kicked out of his Viking village. Eventually he messes up, but he redeems himself by defeating a sinister dragon and saving his village. You can see how the makers of How to Train Your Dragon got some inspiration for their amazing film from the book, but there are really not many similarities between these two stories. It will be interesting to see what they do in the sequel.

6. The Natural

Bernard Malamud’s book The Natural is a tragedy while Barry Levinson’s film adaptation of it is a triumph. I love the way the movie focuses solely on the best aspects of the book. Roy Hobbs is a gifted baseball player who suffers a terrible experience that keeps him from being as great as he could have been. In the book, he allows his weaknesses (gambling, overeating, and greed) to destroy him. In the film, he has his ups and downs, but he manages to come out on top by knowing his limits and not lowering himself to the villains’ level. The ending of the film could not be more different from the one in the book. It’s a home run.

7. The Omega Man

The Omega Man is a loose adaptation of Richard Matheson’s novel I Am Legend, which debuted thirty-six years before Will Smith starred in a somewhat more faithful version. In the book, humanity has regressed into a sort of vampire race and the only man not infected with their disease struggles to survive and kill them off. But the irony is that he turns out to be the villain of the story, terrorizing the peaceful vampires until he is finally captured and forced to kill himself. The Omega Man has a lot of these elements, but it’s much different in practice. The main character tries to stay alive, and he finds a whole group of uninfected people who he tries to help. In the end, he is betrayed and killed while the group he was helping manages to get away safely. It’s a little less grim of an ending than I Am Legend, but it’s much less interesting.

8. The Spy Who Loved Me

Pretty much every James Bond movie after the 1960s has nothing in common with the book it’s supposedly based on. Nowhere is this truer than The Spy Who Loved Me. This is the only Bond novel that is written in the first person, and it barely even focuses on Bond at all. It was so poorly received by readers and critics that Fleming specifically asked the filmmakers that if they ever turned it into a film they wouldn’t use any plot elements from it. Sure enough, the 1977 film The Spy Who Loved Me is a completely original story about a megalomaniac who wants to take over the world (okay, so maybe it’s not completely original), and it became one of the most popular Bond movies of all time and saved the series after the disastrous The Man with the Golden Gun. All in a day’s work for the world’s greatest spy.

9. The Ten Commandments (1956)

The changes made to the story of Exodus heighten the drama between Moses and Ramses.I’m pretty sure the book of Exodus in the Bible doesn’t mention a woman named Nefretiri falling in love with Moses, or Joshua coming to Midian to beg Moses to return to Egypt to free the Hebrews, or a whole lot of other speculative details from the 1956 film The Ten Commandments. But all of those apocryphal or otherwise fabricated plot devices are designed to heighten the drama and drive home the spirit of what the scriptures are trying to get across. For example, having Nefretiri play the part of scorned lover and seek to destroy Moses by whispering lies into Ramses’ ear is an effective way of getting across Ramses’ internal struggle. I’m all for these story changes and additions. They make you want to read the original account by helping you get into the minds of the principal players in the story.

10. Who Framed Roger Rabbit

Eddie Valiant helps Roger Rabbit solve a murder, but it's a different murder in the film and book.In the book Who Censored Roger Rabbit? the titular character is the one who is killed at the start, not Marvin Acme, like in the film. Before he dies, Roger creates a temporary duplicate of himself to help Eddie Valiant solve his murder. It’s an even darker take on the world of real-life toons than is depicted in the 1988 film Who Framed Roger Rabbit. It’s actually reminiscent of Cool World with its modern-day, fantastic setting. The Depression-era setting of the film is much better because it’s easier to suspend our disbelief, especially as we see our favorite classic characters share the screen for the first and only time.

I’m sure there are plenty of other great movies that bear little resemblance to the books they’re supposed to be based on. Feel free to share any you can think of in a comment below.

This is the Deja Reviewer bidding you farewell until we meet again.

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About Robert Lockard, the Deja Reviewer

Robert Lockard has been a lover of writing since he was very young. He studied public relations in college, graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in 2006. His skills and knowledge have helped him to become a sought-after copywriter in the business world. He has written blogs, articles, and Web content on subjects such as real estate, online marketing and inventory management. His talent for making even boring topics interesting to read about has come in handy. But what he really loves to write about is movies. His favorite movies include: Fiddler on the Roof, Superman: The Movie, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Back to the Future, Beauty and the Beast, The Fugitive, The Incredibles, and The Dark Knight. Check out his website: Deja Reviewer. Robert lives in Utah with his wife and three children. He loves running, biking, reading, and watching movies with his family.
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100 Responses to 10 Films That Barely Resemble the Books They’re Based on

  1. Joachim Boaz says:

    Although Bladerunner did excise the entire animal plot there are many many references to it throughout the movie — Deckard looks at the owl for example, the test Sean Young’s character undergoes, the animals carried around in the background, zooming in on the animal with the ID marking (implying they are constructed) — so, perhaps in this “reduction” something was still conveyed of the rest of the novel. But yeah, I rather think of “adaptations” as being inspired by their originals.

    Like

    • Thank you for pointing out those subtle references to animals from the book. I failed to mention those, as well as the unicorn dream that Deckard has. Blade Runner is a film that needs to be seen multiple times to be fully appreciated, but I’ve only seen it twice, so I probably need to give it another go soon.

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  2. Oz Mendoza says:

    The English Patient. An ambiguous, multi-layered, mystery-laden novel is turned into a mind-numbingly literal, artsy, tedious love story on film. A terrible adaptation.

    But even worse are Tim Burton’s adaptations of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Alice in Wonderland. I’m surprised they weren’t mentioned.

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    • I thought of including The English Patient in this article, but I decided to focus on films I think are truly great. But I have to admit I failed to think about Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or Alice in Wonderland, probably because I’m not a fan of Tim Burton’s work. I’ve seen most of his movies, but I think he’s a bit overrated. Those films definitely would have been interesting to talk about, though. I actually like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which might seem surprising since I was profoundly disappointed by Alice in Wonderland.

      Thank you for your suggestions. I hope you enjoyed the article, despite some things I forgot to put into it. :)

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  3. aj shorter says:

    Anecdotal and possibly apocryphal, James M Cain, author of The Postman Always Rings Twice, Double Indemnity, and Mildred Pierce, was asked if he hated what Hollywood did to his books. In response Mr Cain swept his arm across a bookshelf of his work and replied “My books are just fine.”

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    • Thank you for sharing that. It’s good to keep things in perspective. Even if filmmakers don’t quite capture a writer’s original vision, that’s okay because it doesn’t destroy the original work. That’s an encouraging thought.

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    • Kathy DeVoll says:

      I love this quote.I am annoyed by fellow book lover who claim that a movie “destroyed the book for me”. No horrible adaptation would ever destroy my vision of the book. If a movie is bad, I just re-read.

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  4. Anna says:

    What about Dorian Gray? Very liberal screening of the great novel

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    • I haven’t seen that film or read the novel, I’m sorry to say. Are they both worth checking out or just the book? Thank you for letting me know about it.

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      • Anna says:

        Oscar Wilde’s Picture of Dorian Gray is a fantastic, insightful novel that makes you rethink many things and it became a classic rightfully. The movie, although it has some great actors like Colin Firth is an absolute disaster, starting with the fact that they decided to star an average-looking young man with brown eyes and brown hair instead of the angelic blond with blue eyes, and ending with the total mess-up of the plot and absolutely unnecessary elements of porn and fantasy all over the place. The movie is disastrous and nothing like the book. The book is a must read!

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      • Debra says:

        However, there is a version from 1945, in black and white, that is quite good.(In reply to Anna’s comment.

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  5. NIck Nolte as Doc in “Cannery Row”–really? And he’s a baseball player rather than a marine biologist. Dreadful disappointment.

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  6. Danny Devito’s “Matilda”–set in America rather than England–improves mightily over Roald Dahl’s mean-spirited original text. The film version is often sweet and poignant; the parents in particular are more sympathetic in the movie. The Trunchbull, on the other hand, is yet more fearsome and nasty than her book counterpart.

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    • I really need to see that movie. That’s interesting that the film does a better job than Roald Dahl’s book because I felt the opposite about the film version of Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach. I like the book much better than the film. I’ll definitely have to check out Matilda some day. Thanks for the recommendation!

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      • The movie has a lot more fun with her telekinetic powers while omitting her practice with the cigar [when is a cigar not a cigar?]. I kinda wish they could have worked in the Dylan Thomas poem and the fairy-tale quality of Miss Honey’s rustic cottage.

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      • Debra says:

        My daughter’s favorite book EVER is Matilda and she despises the film version.(She is 27, by the way, so this is not a child’s point of view.)

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      • Judy Freed says:

        She no doubt is upset that it isn’t exactly like the book she knew and loved. One would hope that such a slim volume wouldn’t need to be tampered with in order to fit it into a film format, but it almost never happens. You just have to judge the film on it’s own merits independently from the book it’s based on. It’s a different medium after all. You don’t expect a ballet to be the same as the story it’s based on, or a stage play to contain all the richness of a book either. Man of La Mancha is a wonderful play, but it cannot possibly present all of Don Quixote.

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  7. Dee says:

    I may be doubted but I have to say The Shining. The hero is killed in the film, the character of Wendy is horrendous and weak. Jack Nicholson is way over the top and the hotel doesn’t want Jack at all. It all revolves around Danny and the true evil is the alcohol. It was butchered and even King himself hates the film…He was a young writer like myself and needed the money. You would think being a movie fan he would know Kubrick can not be trusted….Look at Lolita?

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    • I agree with you. I didn’t understand what the film was about after I watched it. It felt unsettling and unpleasant, but it was mostly just an incoherent mess to me. I haven’t read the book, but I’m a fan of Stephen King, and I don’t see how his book could be anything but better than Stanley Kubrick’s version of it. No doubting here.

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  8. I was surprised you make no mention of CONTACT, a wonderful Zemeckis film that has little resemblance to Carl Sagan’s novel.

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    • Good point. That one totally slipped my mind. I’ve never read Carl Sagan’s novel, so I probably wouldn’t have been able to do it the justice I’m sure it deserves. I do like Robert Zemeckis’ film. I saw it in the summer of 1997, but I haven’t seen it in the past decade so I’m a bit rusty on it. Thank you for reminding me about it, though. Great story full of interesting moral dilemmas.

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  9. From the trailer, it looks like World War Z might end up on this list.

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    • That’s based on a book? Crazy! I never would have guessed. I’ve never been a big fan of zombie movies, so maybe that’s why I haven’t looked into that one yet.

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      • LisaJ says:

        In the book World War Z, the story of the war is revealed through a collection of interviews of various characters from around the world. There is no main character trying to save his family. Judging from the trailer, the only thing the book and the movie look like they will have in common is the title.

        The book is a good read, I definitely recommend it.

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  10. Cynthea says:

    This is a really sensitive subject for me. One that makes me over the top irate actually, starting with Moll Flanders. One of my all time favorite books that was turned into a movie starring Robin Wright and Morgan Freeman – and not an epic movie or good movie by any means (which I think was your criteria in selecting the list above).

    I’ve carried around my angst about this movie for so many years though that I just needed to mention it. It made me question how much I loved the book in the first place, I have frequently described it as a “rape” of the book (I know, pretty dramatic) and just overly offensive and horrible.

    I was also not fond of the Cider House Rules movie (love John Irving – this is also one of my all-time favorite books), but I do like Tobey Maguire and I’ve had many arguments with people about the film adaptation of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil which I also think was atrocious, but probably did a better job of capturing the feel of the book than any of these others.

    The English Patient comment made me think about a wildly successful adaptation actually: Remains of the Day – Merchant Ivory. While different than the book, I think they were both epic masterpieces and the movie managed to capture so much of the essence of the book in the greatest of ways. Also, The Princess Bride – epic and wonderful book. Equally as wonderful movie.

    Thanks for this thread – it was immensely satisfying.

    Like

    • There are so many great books to talk about. I’m sorry I had to be so limited. Thank you for bringing all of these up and sharing your thoughts on them. I have heard great things about most of the books you mentioned and mixed reactions to the films based on them. It’s definitely no easy task to translate books into films. I’m amazed when it turns out well, like in the cases of The Godfather and Remains of the Day.

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    • The “Masterpiece Theater” version of “Moll Flanders” with Alex Kingston as Moll was wonderful.

      Like

  11. Paula says:

    Alex Cross! The movie was a total rewrite of the books. For example, he was in Detroit instead of DC and his best friend was a short, white, Irish guy instead of a 6-foot-plus African American.

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  12. Shannon says:

    Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter. The only thing the book and the movie had in common were Abraham Lincoln and some vampires.

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  13. Arturo says:

    I think you forgot to mention that actually there are 3 adaptations of The Omega Man, the first one is The Last Man on Earth with Vicent Price and the second one The Omega Man with Charlton Heston, and the latter one resembles a little more to the book than I am Legend with Will Smith

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    • Thank you for pointing that out. I did neglect to mention the Vincent Price version that preceded The Omega Man. I saw The Omega Man as a kid, so it really stuck with me while the other two versions never made much of an impact. But it is important to note that they both exist. Thanks again for catching my omission.

      Like

  14. Merry says:

    “Day of the Triffids”. Book by John Christopher? Scary as all-get-out – plausible, terrifying in its way. Movie by Hollywood? Laughably silly.

    Like

    • Horror novels don’t usually translate well to the screen for some reason. I didn’t think that Stephen King’s The Stand translated into a particularly good TV miniseries, either. It definitely put forth a good effort, but it just came across as ridiculous in the end.

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  15. Cheryl Christians says:

    I was so disappointed in the move The Prince of Tides. If you hadn’t read the book you would probably have liked the movie. The fact that the movie barely, if ever, referenced the title character was just incomprehensible and unforgivable in my opinion.

    Like

  16. BLOODNDONUTS says:

    It makes me want investigate and read books I’be ignored because of the movies. Even Chitty Chitty. BIG IAN FLEMING FAN!

    Like

  17. ithilen85 says:

    Count of Monte Cristo. Wonderful book by Alexandre Dumas, pretty decent movie, but they have very little to do with each other besides the setting and the character names. Great list, though.

    Like

    • Thank you. I’m glad you enjoyed my list. I love Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo. Absolutely brilliant story and characters. The 2002 film condensed so much and cut out so many important elements that it certainly feels like a completely different story. But it has a similar message in the end of faith in the Almighty and that patience is rewarded. The film really wanted to have a completely happy ending rather than a bittersweet one like in the book. Both are great in their own way, but I prefer the book, no question.

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  18. “The Night of the Living Dead” was also meant to be loosely based on “I Am Legend”, albeit unofficially and with zombies instead of vampires;

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  19. Jean Guarr says:

    Bram Stoker’s Dracula. I was outraged that they put Stoker’s name in the title.

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  20. Alyisha says:

    I’m tempted to suggest you add the movie adaptation of “I Capture the Castle” to the list. The tone of the movie is so serious and melodramatic. It lacks all of the humor and spunk that makes the novel so wonderful. I was left despising Cassandra in all of her bratty adolescence instead of adoring her. But I guess, plot-wise, it was true to the book. Still… it was just terrible.

    Like

  21. I love the grace you put out to each commenter. Good article, and great comments.

    Like

    • Thank you very much for noticing. I do my best to treat everyone with respect, and I appreciate everyone who takes the time to share their comments. I’m not the best commenter, myself. I apologize for taking so long to respond to your coment. I was away from a computer for the last few days. I appreciate your grace, as well. :)

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  22. Sharon says:

    The all time worst adaptation in the history of watching movies for me is The Beast Master. It was supposedly based on the classic science fiction book by Andre Norton. They turned it into a campy fantasy movie. And the sequels were even worse.

    The book did include a man who could telepathically link with animals, and he did have a team of an eagle, a dune cat, and two meercats. That is about the only resemblance between the two. Even all the names were changed. And yet, I still remember sitting in the theater and seeing “based on the book by Andre Norton” on the screen. ::shudder::

    Like

  23. LisaJ says:

    I know this is not quite the same thing but Wicked! the musical bears no resemblance to the book.

    I’ve always thought movies based on books should come with a rating to show the faithfulness of the adaptation. If a movie doesn’t follow the book too closely that doesn’t mean it’s going to be bad. But for the viewer that have read the book, it helps to be able to adjust your expectations accordingly.

    Like

    • I did think about that one while writing this article. I heard they’re working on a film version of the play, so it will definitely be a big departure from the book. I have to be honest, I prefer the play over the book. The relationship between Glinda and Elphaba was the most interesting part of the book, but it’s not explored as deeply as I would have liked, and there were quite a few parts that didn’t work for me narratively. I would love to see how the play translates into a movie. I especially love the music.

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  24. Dollar Bin says:

    The book version of Children of Men features worldwide male infertility, while the movie changes the gender to female infertility. Perhaps it’s too simplistic to attribute this to the fact that the novel’s author is a woman, whereas the film was written by men.

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    • That is an interesting change. That seems like it would change the whole dynamic of the story. I still haven’t seen that movie, even though I’ve heard it’s one of the best scifi films of the past decade. I really need to get my act together. Thanks for pointing out that strange change to the story.

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  25. Any of the Harry Potter films after the third one.

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    • So true. I couldn’t stand all of the changes to the Goblet of Fire. I couldn’t stand to watch any of the ones that followed because I figured that if they couldn’t get that one right, it would be pointless to try to slog through the rest and see how they fail to live up to the books. The Goblet of Fire was my favorite book in the series, too.

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  26. Judy Freed says:

    There are so many films loosely based on books, that you just have to avoid comparing them to their source material and just judge them on their own merits as stories. Because even an adaptation of a thin book like Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone had to omit story elements in order to fit in a movie time slot. (And that one had the active involvement of the author.) The situation is even worse with thicker books. Lord of the Rings has enough material for a 3 year long television series of hour long episodes without adding any new material. So obviously they had to leave out most of the book, and strip it down to the bare plot essentials.

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    • Good point. I read The Godfather a while back, and I realized that they split that book into two films. Francis Ford Coppola managed to be faithful to the book while adding so much to it and making it completely his own. That might be the pinnacle of book adaptations.

      Like

  27. Jonathan Roth says:

    Red Alert Vs. Dr Stranglove, The Wizard of Oz vs. The Wizard of Oz, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow vs the Tim Burton One, Frankenstein vs. almost Any Adaptation, Monkey Planet Vs. Planet of the Apes, Animal Farm vs. Adaptations, Mary Poppins Vs Mary Poppins, The Neverending Story, The The Hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy, etc

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  28. HJ says:

    I’d like to encourage you to write another article about movies that change book endings. I would start with My Sisters Keeper.

    Like

    • Thank you for that suggestion. I sort of spoiled The Natural already, but I could definitely think of some more. I sure hope they change the ending of Mockingjay, the third book in the Hunger Games series. That series needed a better conclusion. I’ll have to check out My Sister’s Keeper.

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  29. Jon Anderson says:

    One of my favorite movies growing up, and one that I think is begging to be remade, is George Pal’s The 7 Faces of Dr, Lao, starring Tony Randall playing seven different roles. It has a marvelous script by Charles Beaumont that does its best to capture the impossible-to-film surreal nature of the novel it’s based on, Charles G. Finney’s The Circus of Dr. Lao. Beaumont’s script is arch, sly and sophisticated, and only in the end succumbs to the saccharine requirements of a 60’s movie geared towards children. Even so it bears little resemblence to its source material. I would love to see what someone like Guillermo del Toro could do with the story today.

    Like

  30. H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds bears little resemblance to the 1953 or 2005 movie adaptations…. (Nor the unofficial 1996 version called “Independence Day” either.)

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    • That’s a good point. Those films chose to focus on certain elements of the book while leaving out huge portions of it. I read most of Wells’ novels when I was a kid, including The Invisible Man and The Time Machine, and I found most of them to be depressing but full of interesting ideas. I did enjoy Independence Day’s clever twist on the idea of a virus killing the aliens by making it a computer virus rather than an organic one. Even though it doesn’t make sense that humans could know how to interface with alien technology, it’s still cool. :)

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  31. Jaws is pretty close to the book, but I maintain that the movie vastly improved the story by removing the superfluous subplots (Mrs. Brody’s affair, the Mob) and focusing on the big hungry fish.

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  32. Katie says:

    Just wanted to say that I’m glad that you included The Bourne Identity. Most of my friends loved the movies, but I read the books in High School and every time that I’ve watched the Bourne Identity (people I know love it and have forced me to watch it with them a couple times) I get a bad taste in my mouth. They changed so much from the book and I don’t understand why they couldn’t have decided to have written a script where both his CIA superiors were coming after him to retrieve him (and he didn’t understand why so they could add in car chases, fights, etc) and also added in the assassin trying to kill him for even more action and him deciding to kill the assassin like in the book so they could have stayed closer to the original storyline. But what really irks me the most was that they decided to make him not innocent. The fact that he turned out guilty was probably the aspect that I liked the most in the books. It made the decisions that he had to make down the road that much more compelling. My friends don’t get my very strong dislike of the movies and honestly I probably would have loved it if I had never read the series, but I just can’t watch them without thinking that they butchered Robert Ludlum’s vision.

    Like

    • Katie says:

      Opps I meant the fact that he turned out innocent in books was the aspect that I liked the most (not guilty like in the movies).

      Like

    • I like the resolution of the mystery in the book much better than the one in the film. The film has amazing action sequences, which make up for its lack of a completely coherent story, in my opinion, but the book handled a lot of aspects of being a spy thriller more intelligently. Thank you for pointing all of this out. Great comment! :)

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  33. Mrs. Brisby and the Rats of NIMH. It was bad enough that they changed the main character’s name (it was Frisby in the book), but they changed the entire theme of the book (testing of laboratory animals) and made it an adventure. Just ruined the story, in my opinion.

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  34. Pingback: 10 Movies That Contradict the Endings of the Books They’re Based on | Deja Reviewer

  35. Re: Blade Runner, the title of that film comes from an entirely different book (“The Bladerunner” by Alan E. Nourse) about black market medical services in a society where legitimate medical care was free… as long as you were willing to be sterilized if you had any kind of flaw. Apparently Ridley Scott bought the rights to the book just to use the title. But this is why the only mention of blades, runners, or blade runners in the film is in the opening crawl, and why the fact that the squads that hunted replicants were called “Blade Runer units” makes no sense at all.

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  36. Mr Hollywood says:

    What’s incredible about Bourne is that the screenwriter, Tony Gilroy, proudly admits he’s never read the books. This just boggles the mind.

    Like

    • That’s usually not a good sign. Like how director Stuart Baird bragged about never watching an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation before directing Star Trek: Nemesis. That movie was doomed to fail for many reasons, but that certainly didn’t help. I’m glad that The Bourne Identity still managed to be a good movie, even though it completely strays from the book.

      Like

      • Judy Freed says:

        Don’t forget that the whole Star Trek phenomenom is based on a television series which is by it’s nature made up as it goes along. And a series like Star Trek has a lot of latitude for personal interpretation since it’s all based on speculation anyway. The Star Trek “book” used by the directors of the show is more a guide to continuity of plot lines and character development than anything else. There is so much written on the basis of Star Trek that the director would have had to spend several years reading all the previous publications in all media. It’s not a realistic expectation. So no, the fact that the director didn’t see any Star Trek episodes is not necessarily a drawback. Most of the screenwriters of the original series never watched it either.

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      • Good point. I think it’s worth looking at what has come before at least as a reference, though, so you don’t fall into the same pitfalls that have come before, and you can see what has really worked well. He could have at least watched The Best of Both Worlds, Tapestry, Brothers, All Good Things, and a few other amazing episodes to see how the show excelled. Movies are different than TV shows, of course, but the character dynamics are extremely important, and it was a severe handicap for the director to avoid trying to understand what worked well in the past.

        Contrast that with director Nicholas Meyer and producer Harve Bennett, who watched all 79 episodes of the original series and studied the problems with Star Trek: The Motion Picture before setting out to create their own film. The result of their hard work and dedication to crafting a story that was both true to the original spirit of the show and something daring and new? Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, the best film in the series and one of the best science-fiction films, period.

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      • Judy Freed says:

        Possibly. But as long as he’s working with the seasoned crew, if he does something absolutely against character, they’d tell him. And if the show’s producer is involved, there’s usually somebody around to ensure series continuity. Any failings the movie may have had may be due to the script as much as the direction. If you think the problem was the direction, how would you have handled the same screenplay differently to improve the movie?

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      • Thank you for your wonderful comments. A lot went wrong on the film. I heard LeVar Burton, who had directed several episodes of Star Trek TV shows, was constantly trying to get the director of Star Trek: Nemesis to improve certain areas of the film, but the director refused to listen to his advice, and he didn’t even bother to learn his name. There’s only so much you can do with someone who won’t listen to you.

        Yes, the script was a serious problem, and it definitely contributed to the film’s failure. But bad scripts have been saved before by incredible directors, producers, and actors, such as The Fugitive and Casablanca. The planners should have done a better job, but the director has a responsibility to do his best, as well, even if he inherits a bad script. Baird could have tried a lot harder than he did.

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  37. Debra says:

    I saw the movie “Up in the Air” and really enjoyed it, but then I read the book (which I thought was crummy by comparison) and had they not had the same title, I’m not sure I would have realized they were supposed to be the same story. I usually can’t stand giving books away, I have an actual library in my home, but I disliked this book so much, I got rid of it.

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    • That’s too bad. I don’t understand why filmmakers even use the title of a relatively unknown book if they’re just going to tell their own story. Especially if the story they’re telling is so much better than the one in the book. Why taint themselves with the low expectations that the book entails? Odd.

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  38. Neel says:

    Using the term “barely” here, but “Starship Troopers”, by Robert Heinlein. The book which gets trashed as a piece of militant totalianism, or praised as a novel examining civic virtue recieved no repect from the makers. It was so badly done that Heinliens wife threatened to sue to have his name removed from the movie. The interesting thing there is that the studio did so with out being sued.

    If you have read the book, recomended, and seen the movie, not recomended, it would have displaced “Blade Runner” as #1 on your list very easily.

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    • Very true. Thank you for pointing that one out. I felt the same way about I, Robot as I did about Starship Troopers. The films completely failed to do justice to the books in any way, so I didn’t think it was even necessary to compare them.

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      • Neel says:

        I had completely forgotten about I Robot. It seemed to me to at least try to “tip its cap” to some of the stories that makes up I Robot.

        What does it say about the bland mindlessness of Hollywood trying to convert Sci Fi to film that they make the top three of my list, (#1 Starship Troopers, #2 Bladerunner, #3 I Robot), by a wide margin.

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  39. Pingback: Movie Matchups: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang vs. Santa Claus Conquers the Martians | Deja Reviewer

  40. Pingback: 10 Classic Films You Probably Didn’t Know Are Based on Books | Deja Reviewer

  41. Becca says:

    It is a red death not a green death in How To Train Your Dragon. <3

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  42. Pingback: Movie Matchups: Who Framed Roger Rabbit vs. Chinatown | Deja Reviewer

  43. Avbryce says:

    I know I might get lots of hate for this. But How To Train Your Dragon Movie was actually much better than the book. I loved the movie but honestly absolutely hated the book. i found it plot meh and it was too silly. The movie on the other hand had a very good story and much better lesson.

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  44. Lorrie says:

    I really enjoy your posts and find your comments and opinions insightful. Thank you.

    Though I do not have your eloquence, I find the subject of “Films that barely (or not at all) resemble books they are based on” to be a source of frustration for me, as I love reading and will read almost any genre. Books open worlds and I love to travel them, usually finishing with a day or two. Movies made from books are usually due to reader response and the love of the story, so why change what has sold millions of books and has a ready fan base? Book/film adaptations such as:

    The Harry Potter Series (as previously mentioned) was close, but took out pivotal plot points,

    Twilight Series was mangled from the beginning lacking depth and or character.

    Percy Jackson Series has changed so many fundamental plot points and story lines that it fumbles to continue to the next release.

    Vampire Academy was a satirical farce.

    The Mortal Instrument: City of Bones was so bad it was unrecognizable except the title and character names, nearly everything was rewritten. It did so poorly that they postponed production on the next movie for rewrites and ended up cancelling due to view and fan response.

    I will give credit to the improved movie adaptations of Warm Bodies and How to Train Your Dragon series, which are much better versions than the books.

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