Originally published in 1969, the book became synonymous with Italian mafia folklore and introduced now infamous Italian words like Cosa Nostra and consigliore to English-speaking popular culture. Puzo was Italian-American himself and he manages to capture, along with all the gangster action and violence, so many of the qualities unique to Italian family life; not just the dark side, but the strong sense of family loyalty.
And the movie; all you have to do is have a look at the cast list credits to see it was never going to be bad. The legendary Marlon Brando played the Godfather, Don Vito Corleone, and joined a cast including Al Pacino (Michael Corleone), Robert Duvall (Tom Hagen) and Diane Keaton (Kay Adams).
For me, this movie is an amazing adaptation of the book, probably one of best movies there is. Director Francis Ford Coppola created a popular masterpiece which spawned two successful sequels. I read the book first, and then watched the movie, than read the book again – and I just couldn’t replace the image of Marlon as the God Father or Pacino his reluctant mafia successor son. I think that is the mark of a good Movie/Book.
Book – written by Stephen King
Movie – directed by Brian De Palma, staring Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie
Book – written by Nicholas Sparks
Movie – directed by Nick Cassavetes, starring Rachael McAdams and Ryan Gosling
For me, the movie version of The Notebook improves on the book. The book is a romantic journey about the lives of Noah (the poor boy) and Allie (his upper class love interest). They become separated by their social differences, but as with all good romance stories, they realise their love for each other through a series of plot twists and turns. The chemistry between Rachael McAdams (Allie) and Ryan Gosling (Noah) is incredible and is really the key to making the movie so touching. It’s no wonder they were a real-life couple after shooting wrapped.
The Time Traveler’s Wife
Book – written by Audrey Niffenegger
Movie – directed by Robert Schwenke, starring Eric Bana and Rachael McAdams
Audrey Niffenegger’s book is an amazing read. It has been hailed by critics and the reading public alike as one of the true original stories of the past decade. It follows the romantic relationship between Clare Abshire and Henry DeTamble. Henry has a rare genetic disorder, which sees him travel through time, having no control over where and when. The story jumps around from Clare’s childhood, to their tumultuous lives together as adults.
The movie was ok, but if you have read the book and loved it, you were probably disappointed with the big screen adaptation. I’m not sure that a movie, no matter how well produced, could capture the essence and even the timeline of the book. The movie was good. It was just never, ever going to be as good as the book.
My Sister’s Keeper
Book – written by Jodie Picoult
Movie – directed by Nick Cassavetes, starring Cameron Diaz and Abigail Breslin
|Cameron Diaz and Sofia Vassilieva in My Sister's Keeper|
On their own merit, both these versions are popular and enjoyable enough. Jodie Picoult’s book tells the story of Anna Fitzgerald who wants emancipation from her parents who have relied on her body to help treat her sister, Kate, who is sick with leukaemia. The story explores some deeply emotional issues including the death of a child and the impact on the family unit. I think the book is an ok read, and the movie is an ok watch, but if you’ve read the book, you might have been a little disappointed about the alternate ending provided and some of the detail missing from the character’s relationships with each other, particularly the parents of Kate and Anna Fitzgerald. These changes result in the movie adaptation being very different to the book.
The Ugly (otherwise known as bad adaptations AND bad movies)
The Power of One
Book - written by Bryce Courtnay
Movie – directed by John G. Alvidson, starring Stephen Dorff
I read this book when I was a teenager and for me it was an inspiring story. It centres on English boy, Peekay, who lives in South Africa during World War II. The story follows Peekay’s struggle as an English boy in a society dominated by Afrikaans culture. He desires to change the country and unite the African, English and Afrikaans cultures in a society where racism and violence are everyday occurrences. I found it, and its subsequent sequels compelling reading.
Unfortunately, the movie was shockingly bad. Not only did it lack the emotional development of the book’s characters and the storyline, it was marred by some pretty ordinary Afrikaans accents (Yes, you, Stephen Dorff).
The Da Vinci Code
Book – written by Dan Brown
Movie – directed by Ron Howard, starring Tom Hanks and Audrey Tautou.
That’s my list of the Good, Bad and Ugly Book/Movie adaptations. What are your favourites? Which ones do you despise?