Better than the books | News & Features | Cinema Online

Better than the books

Writer: Dzamira Dzafri

As the saying goes, "Books are always better than the movie." But with books like "Cloud Atlas" redefining story-telling on screen, we beg to differ. Here are some reasons why a film like "Cloud Atlas" could even give its source material a run for its money.

Why it's better than the book: We're not saying the book was worse. In fact, the story itself is wonderfully enchanting, but with several different storylines to keep track of in the book it will certainly take a while for some readers to understand. British author David Mitchell penned the post-apocalyptic novel in 2004. The story's synopsis describes itself as "An exploration of how the actions of individual lives impact one another in the past, present and future, as one soul is shaped from a killer into a hero, and an act of kindness ripples across centuries to inspire a revolution." It may be complicated and far-fetched, but for a feature film to be able to capture the book's essence (albeit in a three hour long film) is a talent. Book fans won't admit it, but sometimes, to watch a film that came from a book you loved through in a film is by far better than a single person's imagination.

Who is in it: Big Hollywood stars like Tom Hanks, Halle Berry and Hugh Grant are some of the few who star in this epic feature. Unlike your usual Hollywood films, in "Cloud Atlas", one actor is given the roles of various characters as the film shifts between narratives.

There you have it. With "Cloud Atlas" coming soon to local theatres, we look into some of the best films so far that are, in fact, better than the books.

"A Clockwork Orange" (1971)


Why it's better than the book: Author Anthony Burgess initially distrusted director Stanley Kubrick for the film, but was in the end pleased with how it turned out. Kubrick turned the book into a cinematic masterpiece. Malcolm McDowell, who played lead character Alexander DeLarge, has turned himself into an icon for films and pop culture with his portrayal of the charismatic, sociopathic delinquent Alex. The film turned the book's strange, almost undecipherable language into something classic many of us could watch again and again.

"The Shining" (1980)


Why it's better than the book: A masterpiece of a book managed to be surpassed by the directional power that is Stanley Kubrick, yet again! Stephen King's novel is about a family who resides in a hotel alone in winter, only to be haunted by the hotel's creepy powers, but Kubrick had managed to turn the story into something more frightening and intense with the help of Jack Nicholson's portrayal of Jack, and iconic scenes like the axe rampage (Heeeeeere's Johnny!) amongst others.

"Fight Club" (1999)


Why it's better than the book: This is a tough one to admit. The novel itself was brilliantly written, but this cult classic is indeed better than the book. Director David Fincher has adapted the book's dark and philosophical musings of author Chuck Palahniuk into a film that captures exactly what most of us were imagining when we read it. Edward Norton and Brad Pitt also star in it, which made it all the more watchable.



"Lord Of The Rings" trilogy (2001 – 2003)


Why they're better than the books: Even some enthusiasts admit that the movies are better than the books. The books are long and winding, and the words were excruciatingly detailed. While the book might not be worse, the films are spectacular. They are one of the only movie series that managed to please a large population of book fans. Author J.R.R. Tolkien may have been the creator, but Peter Jackson had made them into cinematic wonders.

"The Notebook" (2004)


Why it's better than the book: When it comes to Nicholas Sparks, topping his novels with a better movie has been difficult, like the poorly done "Dear John", but "The Notebook" in 2004 is one of the best adaptations of Spark's novels, if not the best. Starring Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams, the concept of a poor young man and a rich young woman falling in love with a tragic twist has affected the audience in such a way that some even say it is their favourite film of all-time, thanks to director Nick Cassavetes.

"The Devil Wears Prada" (2006)


Why it's better than the books: Reviews comparing the film and the book has said that the book was almost unreadable. The film has the advantage of having director David Frankel, actresses Anne Hathaway and Emily Blunt, the versatile Stanley Tucci from" The Lovely Bones" and Meryl Streep as the fantastically icy Miranda Priestly on board, resulting in a hilarious and entertaining chick flick movie to watch on any occasion.

"Drive" (2011)

Why it's better than the book: James Sallis' book is short and entertaining, but it didn't have the heart and soul director Nicolas Winding Refn had put into it. The original story is about a driver getting bloody revenge, but Refn gave the movie his own take. The themes of love and sacrifice is made all the more romantic and intense with Ryan Gosling portraying the lead character, because of his good looks and doe-like eyes that helps to hide his ability to beat people into a bloody pulp.

"Life Of Pi"(2012)

Why it's better than the book: Yann Martel's novel of the same name has recently been made into a film by filmmaker Ang Lee, despite being billed as the book that was 'unfilmable'. With exceptional movies like "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" and "Brokeback Mountain" under his belt, Lee's adaptation is an artistic wonder we saw on screen. It is one of the most beautiful films of 2012, and it has earned eleven Academy Award nominations this year, including Best Adapted Screenplay.



Cinema Online, 05 February 2013