Who doesn't love a good book, a good movie or a good book with pictures? So wouldn't a movie based on a book be just awesome? Unfortunately, some people don't realize the difficulty of turning a book into a movie.
The book was written by F. Scott Fitzgerald in 1925 and told the tale of Jay Gatsby from the 2nd person perspective of Nick Callaway, an acquaintance of Gatsby's. Nick connected Gatsby to his former love Daisy, and the novel is mostly spent detailing Gatsby's quest to steal Daisy away from her husband Tom. The book ends with Gatsby's murder at the hand of Tom's mistress' husband, who blames Gatsby for his wife's murder. (I'd tell you more about this book, but I skimmed it Junior Year). The book is considered one of the finest in American history, and sums up the attitudes of authors from the so called "Lost Generation" of the 1920s.
The film, released in 1974, faithfully adapted the book to the screen, and starred three big names, Robert Redford, Mia Farrow, and Sam Waterston. The film followed the book plot point for plot point, and quite nearly line of dialogue for line of dialogue. Only one difference: the film didn't utilize Carraway as a narrator.
Why it Ruined the Book
The book was great because Carraway had insights into Gatsby's mind and motivations. With limited narration in the movie, it lost all of what made the book great, namely Fitzgerald's views about romance and getting caught in the past. The film showed us all of the events of the book without getting the meaning of any of them, all due to a lack of narration.
The book, written in 2004 by Jodi Picoult, tells the heart wrenching story of a girl, Anna,conceived in order to donate blood to her leukemia stricken sister, Kate. Throughout the novel she donates what she is asked, until she turns 13 and is asked to give up her kidney. She refuses, and sues her mother for emancipation in order to keep her kidney. At the end of the novel, it is revealed that Kate told Anna to sue for emancipation, not wanting to live any longer. However, Anna is hit by a car as she leaves the courthouse, critically injuring her; her kidney is harvested before she dies and given to her sister Kate, saving her life.
The film, released in 2009, adapted the concepts from the book onto the big screen, telling the tale of a girl, Anna, born for the sole purpose of giving bone marrow to her sick sister. The events of the film more or less portray the events of the book, showing Anna's lawsuit in her attempt to emancipate herself from her parents.
Why it Ruined the Book
The ending to the film has Kate simply dying after she refuses to accept Anna's kidney. No twist, no cruel ironic end to the tale. Let me repeat myself: they completely changed the ending of the book to make an equally sad ending. The ending was ruined, and nothing was gained. What was the point?
The Golden Compass, by Philip Pullman, tells the fantastic tales of Lyra Belacqua, an orphan girl who lives in a parallel universe where souls manifest themselves as shapeshifting animals (daemons) that are spiritually connected to people. Throughout the book, Lyra quests around the world with her mystical Golden Compass, an instrument than can supposedly tell the future, in order to find her kidnapped friend, Roger. In her travels, she travels with Gypsies on a riverboat, befriends a talking polar bear who fights with armor (seriously, this happens. If that shit were real I think humans would be the servants of our new polar bear overlords), and is eventually captured by kidnappers who run experiments on children separating children from their daemons (which kills them). She is rescued with Roger (who she found there), and watches her bear friend beat another bear in a fucking gladiator showdown (he eats the other bear's heart). Finally, the book concludes with her uncle murdering Roger in order to open up a bridge to a parallel universe.
The film does a decent job of converting the fantastic tale into a believable world, and for the first half of the film, the book is faithfully converted into a motion picture.
Why it Ruined the Book
So the second half of the film turns into a giant train wreck. The order of events is completely switched around, and a huge fight sequence is randomly insterted into the picture. Worst of all, the dramatic ending of the book, with her friend Roger being murdered, is completely absent from the film. They didn't change the ending, they just fucking stopped the movie with about 30 pages left in the novel. They apparently wanted a happier ending that didn't involve child murder, but still, you can't just remove an ending, unless it's to name the talking armor bears overlords of Alternate Earth.
This book, released in 1963 by Ken Kesey, tells the tale of an insane asylum that is turned upside down when a questionably insane inmate, Randle McMurphy, is admitted and challenges the dictatorial Nurse Ratched. The book is told in the 2nd person by a member of the asylum, Chief Bromden, and 7 foot tall Native American who pretends to be mute, and unlike McMurphy (Mac), is legitimately crazy. Throughout the novel, Mac helps the patients improve their lives and basically just have a fucking awesome time, including a fishing trip that Mac brings hookers to. In the end though, Mac pushes Ratched too far, and she lobotomizes him, leading Chief to murder his good friend to put him out of his misery.
The film (which won several Oscars and is pretty fucking awesome), adapts the events from the book with the charismatic Jack Nicholson playing the role of Mac. A couple of events got altered, but for the most part, the film stayed pretty true to the book, except for...
Why it Ruined the Book
Like Gatsby before it, the film completely got rid of the fucking narrator. In the book, Kesey spends literally 1/3 to 1/2 of the book writing about Chief's subjective experiences, his descent into insanity, his childhood growing up in a Native American village, his views on how Mac was changing the asylum. In the film, Chief isn't even a major character until about the halfway point of the movie. The film is basically a Rashomon of the book, in that it shows the same events from the perspective of Mac rather than the Chief. This would be like if the adaptation of Fight Club was told from Marla's persepctive, it just doesn't make sense (even if it would still be an awesome film). Was this a great movie the way it was? Yes. But did it ruin the book? You bet your sweet ass it did.
Many people may not be aware that Jurassic Park, by Michael Crichton, was a book that came out in 1990. The book tells the thrilling tale of an amusement park created on an island by billionaire John Hammond that contains cloned dinosaurs. The book shows what happens when the park goes wrong and the dinosaurs escape while paleontologists and Hammond's grandchildren are on the island taking a look at it. The dinosaurs, especially velociraptors, murder most of the guests on the island, although several of our heroes survive to inform the Costa Rican government that murderous dinosaurs are loose on the island. The government thanks them for the heads up, and proceeds to bomb the shit out of the island, killing everyone except our paleontologists and young folk, who are taken into custody. The book ends with them being informed that the dinosaurs are moving towards the mainland and that they are in custody for the forseeable future.
The film stays mostly true to the book, showing the paleontologists plus scientist Ian Malcolm and a (probably nameless) lawyer touring the island with Hammonds grandkids before everything goes wrong and the dinos start chomping on people. The children even have a showdown with the raptors from the book, before a T-Rex saves them by eating the raptors. The movie ends with (nearly) everyone escaping the island and vowing never to return again.
Why It Ruined the Book
Look at those two endings again... the book has the island getting bombed to fucking hell just like Vietnam, a logical conclusion to an island that is hosting escaped dinos. John Hammond gets his just deserts, as he is killed in the bombing while wandering the island, and our "heroes" are detained while the rest of the dinosaurs are tracked down. Hollywood, being what it is, decided that escaping with minimal consequences is much tidier (and leaves much more room for sequels), and ruined the logical ending that Crichton put into the book. Instead, we leave the movie asking one question: why do we have bombs to drop on foreign countries but none to drop on fucking velociraptors?