I don’t think of creating movies based on film as bastardizing the novels as some do, but maybe our views depend upon expectations.  Most readers I know rarely find a film made of a favorite novel “as good as the book.” Yet for them, a read translated to and laid on celluloid can add a new dimension to the living-book experience, the way we think and fantasize and dream about novels and their characters, time periods, etc., long after we’ve flipped back cover on “The End.”

Clearly, some of us find abhorrent the creation of films based on classic novels we’ve been fortunate enough to read and maybe study.  But often young folks who’ve seen the flicks but not read the novels they’re based upon -- or who’ve not been particularly jazzed about reading – will afterward buy the books.  And actually read them.

Then there’s a curious “back atcha’” phenomenon of creating books from hit movies. For instance, imagine my surprise to find a book available based upon the movie I’m most mortifyingly obsessed with, Ron Howard’s, “Far and Away.”  Long before I’d read my first romance – so I guess I’m saying I didn’t realize the film qualifies as one -- I fell in love with this story of a scrappy Irish-Catholic immigrant Tom Cruise and

the feisty, wealthy Irish-Protestant girl, Nicole Kidman, who runs away with him to America to find fortune and adventure in the great Oklahoma Land Rush of 1893.

I kid you not: If this film is on, I will Velcro eyeballs to any part. And, frankly, there probably isn’t an editor who’d buy a romance based on this movie; it’s kind of over-the-top. But you need to experience why that’s so awesome, so do enjoy the trailer below!

What are you hoping for when you see a movie based upon a favorite book? What are some you think are successful?  Tell us the movie you most love – and are most embarrassed about! How do you feel about books made from movies?

Catch your favorite romance authors’ wedding day photos here!


Michelle Buonfiglio writes daily about romance fiction at BN’s Heart to Heart and RomanceBuytheBook.com and Tuesdays at BN’s Unabashedly Bookish. Buonfiglio also authors the popular RBTB NEWs romance e-newsletter.


by PrincessBumblebee on ‎02-12-2010 06:42 PM

Michelle, I love that you've brought up this subject! Yes, most movies based on the books fall short of our expectations. And I didn't know that about Far and Away.

Emma and Pride and Prejudice, however, are great movies based on books, not to mention North and South! But, perhaps it's because I have already read them that I so enjoyed the movies. However, as to Far and Away, or any romantic comedy, I always wondered how some women (yes, I have friends like this) love them but eskew romance novels, which are basically the same thing, only in print!

As to Anne of Green Gables, I dont' think I would have enjoyed the books as well had I not scene the movies! By then I knew the characters and what to expect in the books. As one of my friends foudn out, who didn't understand the books until she had watched the movies.

Have a great weekend!

by Moderator becke_davis on ‎02-12-2010 11:18 PM

I usually don't like movies made from books, whether they are mystery or romance. There are a few exceptions -- I like David Suchet as Poirot and Joan Hickson as Miss Marple. I also like the televised version of Carolyn Graham's books: Midsomer Murders. 


I have a lot of romantic movies I like, but for the most part I'd rather read the books.

by foxycat on ‎02-13-2010 12:08 AM

Movies and books are unique. It's rare that a film can capture all the nuances of a fine book. Merchant and Ivory had a knack for it, and did some fine films of E.M.Forster's and Henry James' works: The Bostonians, A Room with a View, A Passage to India. We will not see their like soon.


Public Television (PBS,)  because it's non-commercial, is better suited to long novels, and they can be told in as many episodes as necessary. Squeezing a Jane Austen film into a 2-hour theatrical film is an insult to the author. But even in the best of films, the narrator's voice and the thoughts of the characters are absent unless there's a voiceover. Mrs Dalloway did a fine job with voiceover, otherwise the film would have been cryptic.


Having seen many films in 63 years, I'll have to sift through a list of fine films and respond to this again.

by Liz_beth on ‎02-15-2010 04:32 AM

I love books and I love movies...even when those movies are based upon a book.  I think you're right, it all depends on what your expectations are when you walk in to that movie theater...but let's face it, a movie, no matter how great it is will never be as good as the book.  All for the simple reason that books have the luxury of detail where movies often don't.  However, this doesn't mean you can't enjoy the show!  When I see a movie based on a book, I expect for it to have it's essence but what I don't expect is for it to be the same and with this mind frame, I am rarely disappointed.  


For example, the most recent version of Pride&Prejudice with Kyra Knightly was great.  It's actually one of my favorite movies and yes I realize it's not quite the same as in the book.  In this case though, I thought the differences enhanced the story with out detracting from the essence of the book.  It's also the movie I'm most embarrassed about because like you, I found my self pressing the rewind button way too many times.  Or who can forget The Notebook?...great movie based on a book!  On the other side, a movie that I thought didn't translate well into film was the Time Traveler's wife...but even when I didn't really enjoy the movie, I love the book and appreciate the effort that was made.   




by amyskf on ‎02-15-2010 12:31 PM

I try to think of each as it's own unique thing. So, if I can hold them separate in my mind, "This is this, and that is that," I'm fine. I try not to have expectations, when I've read a book, loved it, then go see the movie.


However, I am in the camp, that agrees if I see a movie I like, it will cause me to read the book. "The Brothers Karamozov," is one of those. I never would have tackled that tome, w/o first seeing Yul Brinner's magnificent self on the screen as one of the bros. first.



by Moderator dhaupt on ‎02-15-2010 04:43 PM

I don't watch tv except for the wether and when I retire (if I live that long) I won't watch it at all. I do like some (very few) movies and a few (very few again) based on novels.

Drum roll please


My number one all time favorite movie based on a novel, well it's actually my number one favorite movie of all time. "Out of Africa"


My most embarrassing movie, Looking for Mr. Goodbar (seen with my dad, yes that's right MY DAD)


My usual retort about movies made from novels, is don't bother. You'll never get it. And worst of all, once they've casted the characters, they never seem to be up to par of what you imagined. Right


by lisadh on ‎02-16-2010 10:20 PM

Books and movies.  Sigh...my two favorite pasttimes.  Nothing can make me quite so giddy as the prospect of going to the movie theater or sitting down with a new book release by a favorite author.  Alas, when the two meet, it isn't always with the best results.  My cases in point (and please forgive the fact that these are not romances):


The Firm - great book and great movie, however, not a great adaptation of the book.  I distinctly remember sitting in the theater following along, thinking "good...good" and then "what the?!?!"  All of a sudden it went down a path that was NOT in the book.  At the time I was quite put out, but I have grown to love the movie on its own merits due to great writing, directing, and acting.


The Lightning Thief - great book (I read this with my 9yr old son and LOVED the series) and...a not so great movie.  I thought I would be able to watch the movie for its own merits, but found that they changed so much and left so much out, it was just too disconcerting to me.  Also, the movie was very disjointed.  My husband, who had not read the book, had some issues with the story and when related to me, I explained that all his "holes" are explained in the series (not just in the one book).  Disappointing.


Oooh!  I just thought of a romance:  The Thorn Birds!  I thought the mini-series was a fairly good representation of the book.  I did see the show before reading the book, though.  I don't know if that makes a difference in appreciation.  Hmmm...something to think about.


BTW - LOVE "Far and Away"!!  I always thought it was one of the best romances in film made.  Nicole Kidman was fantastic!

by coral104 on ‎02-18-2010 10:33 PM

Books and movies...it can be either a really good thing or something completely different. I love movies... I like to see how someone else interprets the character, maybe they envisioned it the way I did. Some adapations though are not ones that need to be made...my sister's keep left a lot to be desired. In the book there was more to how each character was affected and the impact on choices each made for themselves and for the family.


But I think the best movie is the notebook,even though they changed the ending.


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