Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Seen the Film, Read the Book

I am quite proud that there aren't many films where I have watched the film first then read the book it was based on. I usually try to read the book before or, most of the time, watch the film and cannot read the book after.

This is the list of film adaptations where I watched the film first, then read the book.

1. Pride and Prejudice

 The Jane Austen classic about the Bennett family, particularly about Elizabeth and her relationship with the infamous Mr Darcy. I had seen both beloved classic TV series and seen Joe Wright's beautiful film. I later bought the book for 20p at a random charity shop or it might have been a summer fete and read it, then become bored half way through and decide the audio book would suit me better. I think, any form of adaptation of this novel is winner, except that it is remade to death.

2. Little Children

 A story about suburban women and men trying to live out their seemingly boring lives during a summer. From the breakdown of marriages and adultery to the neighbourhood watch and pedophiles returning home. By Tom Perrotta, who has the amazing ability to take something mundane and make it incredibly hard to put down. The film concentrated heavily on the affiar between a stay at home Dad and a reluctant mother, as well as the recently released pedophile back into the neighbourhood. The film is good but the book is by far much better. A character that appears for seconds in the film is actually one of the four main ones in the book and her balance is quite important. The ending is also more relaxed in the book too, shocking truths are told but no one reacts and perfect.

3. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

 The film about a man ages backwards, with the source material being a short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald directed by David Fincher, had everyone excited. The first time I saw the film I loved it, I thought it was long but brilliant. Then I bought it on DVD hoping to relive the magic, but what followed was me realising the film was too long to be enjoyed and the characters were annoying. The story is brilliant. Perfectly detailing the life of Benjamin Button in a mere 28 pages. After reading the short story I couldn't watch the film again I was so disappointed. There was nothing wrong with the original story, there was no need for a whole change. In fact the only element from the story was the name, Benjamin Button and that he ages backwards, everything else is made up.

4. The Princess Bride

 When I first saw the film classic about true love, Princess Buttercup and Wesley, I didn't know what to make of it. With further viewings, the words 'As you wish' rang in my head and I understand the appeal of this slightly bizarre fairytale. I had no idea there was novel before the film. The Princess Bride I have to thank as it not only got me back into reading since I was in primary school, but actually got me buying books again. While in secondary school I read all the books we were meant to, apart from Wuthering Heights, that was dull, and I had stopped reading books other than Lord of the Rings and A Series of Unfortunate Events. I bought the book while at college and was hooked. The book was just like the film for me, it was well adapted and there were scenes in the book but not in the film, it felt like the directors cut.

5. Suite Francaise

 As I mentioned in my March Watch List, I was/am obsessed with this story set in France 1940, in a small town outside Paris when a German regiment arrives. An officer is billeted with Lucille and her cold Mother-in-law. At first a forbidden attraction, then love blossoms between the German and Lucille but there are bigger issues happening in the town and country. The film was beautiful, the lead characters so painfully subtle in their affection, the ending was just so vexing. The book or books I should say were different. I wanted to read it in the hope that there was more not included in the film. I read 'Dolce' but not 'Storm in June'. I was rather upset with book by the end as it was more unsatisfying an end than the film. Where both have merits, they both have tragic ends that are not really concluded. 
6. Gormenghast
 How to even begin describing Gormenghast? I actually only read 'Titus Groan', the first in the trilogy. The second book is called 'Gormenghast', as was the BBC TV series. I actually chose my 'Confirmation' name as Titus because of this story. The amazing fantastical world of Gormenghast, a great castle ruled over by the Groan family was created by Mervyn Peake. The story begins with the birth of Titus, heir to Lord Groan. This birth coincides with Steer Pike's rise from kitchen rat to a member of the elite, secretary to the Groan family. I was obsessed with the TV series when it first aired. I used to watch it over and over when we recorded it. It was such a bizarre world, all within the walls of a castle. The story and most of the characters were dark, this is probably why I enjoyed it, and it was fantasy that didn't have any mythical creatures and didn't seem to be set at a specific time or place, it was new and brilliantly created. My aunt and my mum actually really love the books and warned me how dense the books were. I got through Titus Groan, eventually, and they were not kidding. The descriptions for places, rooms and scenes were vast and I have to say, if you're planning on reading the books, be patient, the pay off is worth it. One day I might try and read the next two, Gormenghast and Titus Alone, one day.


  1. Great post Katie. I watched Suite Francaise recently and loved it, so I've just started the book. Hope I don't find it too disappointing. I'm not very far in yet but it's going well so far!

  2. My friend read the book too, she really enjoyed it. If you enjoyed the film, you'll like the book too, no worry about that :)