What Movies Are Actually Better Than The Books On Which They Are Based?
Posted on 16th of August, 2018


Books and movies are two vastly different mediums and trying to compare the two would be like trying to compare apples and bowling balls. Both have their pros and cons and there is no reason why you can't enjoy both without having to pick which version is the best. A lot of times when people go on about how much better movies are compared to the book it is because of the age of the books. Give it a few years and those movies might look and sound just as dated as the book versions. On the other hand, all the people who champion books over films no matter what tend to have a snobbish attitude about reading. It's not always possible to read every single book out there, so I'm glad for films that make it easy to catch up on what I've been missing out. Like I had no interest in the Harry Potter books, but after watching the movies I read to books too.
I watch a lot of movies and a read even more books, so my opinion might be more unbiased than most, but will probably still upset a few people. Here goes:

-The Lord of The Rings: Make no mistake, I love the books by J. R. R. Tolkien, but the man had a habit of rambling on and on for pages about the most mundane things. Peter Jackson took these ramblings, trimmed off all the fat, and delivered a trilogy that has stood the test of time. The same can't be said about The Hobbit, but that's another matter. Thankfully none of the movies mimic the books by interrupting the action with pages of Elvish poetry!

-The Name of the Rose: Another author who went off on way too many tangents is Umberto Eco with his novel The Name of the Rose. Perhaps it is due to the translation work, Eco is Italian, but I experienced the novel as being way too wordy whereas the film manages to keep things concise and interesting.

-A Clockwork Orange: This is not a slight against Anthony Burgess as A Clockwork Orange is still a brilliant novel, but the film directed by Stanley Kubrick surpasses it in every way. Kubrick is a master in his craft and one of the very few directors who is able to consistently improve on the source material he uses for his films. He has not only proven this with A Clockwork Orange, but also 2001 A Space Odyssey and The Shining.

-Fight Club: Even the author of the book agrees with me on this one as Chuck Palahniuk has stated himself that the film version of Fight Club is an improvement compared to his novel. The book is still a great read, but the film is undoubtedly better.

-Blade Runner: Philip K. Dick has a well deserved reputation for his science fiction novels, but in my opinion, Blade Runner blows "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" out of the water. It could once again be a case of the whole futuristic spectacle looking more impressive on screen compared to on paper, but the movie went on to become a cult hit while the book is not quite as well known outside of science fiction circles. For a more recent example of this, check out how much better The Man in The High Castle is on Amazon compared to the book.

-Jurassic Park: Everyone knows that Jurassic Park is based on the books by Michael Crichton, but I wonder how many people have actually gone through both and noticed how much Steven Spielberg changed in order to turn it in to a great movie. Not only is the Jurassic Park novel very boring in places, but Crichton just rehashed the idea for his Westworld and replaced the androids that malfunction with dinosaurs that escape.
The Notebook is a better movie than book purely because it stars Ryan Gosling. Forrest Gump is a very funny movie compared to the book that I found to be somewhat dry. The Shawshank Redemption is a brilliant movie whereas the original story by Stephen King is good, but not as great. Finally, 2001: A Space Odyssey is a tense and gripping movie compared to the original book by Arthur C. Clarke, which was once again good but not great.
It is really, really uncommon for movies to improve on books, but also not unheard of. One movie that everyone can agree on in this category is Jaws. The reviews of the book were actually very mixed when Peter Benchley released Jaws in 1974, but the tide turned after it was turned into a blockbuster by Steven Spielberg. The film improved on the book in many ways and it resulted in a box office smash. The same can be said for the Robert Bloch novel, Psycho. The book was decent enough, but the Alfred Hitchchock film took next to a whole new level. Hitchcock made some important changes, such as making Norman Bates much more creepy, which definitely worked in the film's favor.

New to Manybooks Discuss?

This is where readers and authors alike can submit any questions they have about books. Browse through all the questions previously asked by our community here, or post a new question using the button below.