Most Accurate Book To Film Adaptations

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So many film adaptations of novels often change a great deal from the source novels they're adapted from and there's many that bear little to no resemblance to their souce novels. However there's still some that are very faithful to the point there's not much difference between both.


The Mist comes to mind. I read the novella before the film and the film was quite accurate. It's been a long time since I last read the novella, but from my memory the film was very faithful to it and I recall there not being much difference beyond some dialogue and of course the infamous ending.



I think that both the miniseries adaptation and the 2005 film of Pride and Prejudice did a really good job of translating the novel to film.

The most recent adaptation of Far from the Madding Crowd was really faithful to the novel, which I listened to right after watching the movie.

And while it makes a few changes to the story in order to better accommodate the medium of film, A Monster Calls does a great job of translating the book to a movie. I had a strong emotional response to the book and I was super skeptical about it being adapted to film and I was so pleasantly surprised by it.

I would say that Drive does a pretty good job of matching the novel, though the book is a little more bleak and fatalistic.

The Talented Mr. Ripley is a pretty good adaptation, though it's hard to capture the highly-subjective sociopathic POV of the books.

Coraline is pretty accurate to the text.

There are also films that feel "spiritually" accurate to the book. Like, The Skin I Live In really expands on the short novel on which it is based, but what it adds feels like it belongs in the same universe as the original story, if that makes sense.



Forgive me for repeating this, but one of my favorites; Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003) was NOT very accurate to the book (because, in fact, the film was an amalgam of episodes from a series of books that began with the first one having the title Master and Commander)... but having read a few of the books in the series, this was one case where the movie was so much better!



I thought that The Godfather (1969) was a wonderful and fascinating novel by Mario Puzo. I read it in '70 or '71, then couldn't wait for the movie to come out. The film treatment didn't disappoint, and was very faithful to the book.



I thought that The Godfather (1969) was a wonderful and fascinating novel by Mario Puzo. I read it in '70 or '71, then couldn't wait for the movie to come out. The film treatment didn't disappoint, and was very faithful to the book.
...with the exception of the removal of that skeevy sub-plot with Lucy, that is.



Watchmen (2009)


Granted, the "book" was a graphic novel (i.e. a comic book), but the movie was almost a direct retelling... which wasn't difficult as the comic itself resembled a movie storyboard. Except for a few minor alterations & omissions, the movie was almost exact...

WARNING: "Changes" spoilers below
They changed Rorschach's killing of the child murderer - I think because the scenario in the comic resembled one from Mad Max (1979) too closely.
They omitted the comic within a comic - in the graphic novel, a boy on the street is reading a comic that's depicted within the Watchmen comic series itself (intermittent breaks in the story allow the audience to read the comic the boy on the street is reading) - this concept may have been too confusing for a film and would have made it far too long.
And, of course, they changed the ending by putting Dr. Manhattan in place of the comic's giant, alien octopus!


Although the ending was altered (the basic plot was the same, but the vehicle to deliver the climax was different) the film ending actually fell together in a way that seemed more logical than the comic's ending.



It's been awhile since I read it but I remember Charly following pretty close to Flowers for Algernon and The Andromeda Strain following pretty close to The Andromeda Strain. Stand by Me is another one (The Body). In fact, most of Stephen Kings short stories/novellas are pretty good adaptations, The Lawnmower Man being a big exception. His novels often go a little haywire when turned into films but how do you turn a 4-500+ page novel into a screenplay without skipping a few thing or making a five hour movie.



minds his own damn business
I don't really value the faithfulness of adaptation in and of itself. There are things that books do really well (interior dialogue) that is very tricky to translate to screen, and can frequently be quite clunky in execution. Similarly, many of my favorite scenes in films cannot be adequetely articulated in prose.


I don't think that either Godfather or Exorcist are faithful at all, to the benefit of the films.
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I don't really value the faithfulness of adaptation in and of itself. There are things that books do really well (interior dialogue) that is very tricky to translate to screen, and can frequently be quite clunky in execution. Similarly, many of my favorite scenes in films cannot be adequetely articulated in prose.


I don't think that either Godfather or Exorcist are faithful at all, to the benefit of the films.

I feel pretty much the same.

Also, and I don't know if it was in this thread it was addressed but it is still related to what's being discussed here regardless, but I don't quite believe much in the uncontested wisdom that 'the book is always better than the movie'.

Um, no. More than regularly, this is proven to not be true by how many terrible books have been turned into good movies, but also I don't even agree that books are by default a superior medium. As stated, they can do some things movies can't. But movies can do some things they can't. And I don't know why any of these particular things should be considered better than the other.

Because books=smart? Nah. Look at the list of best sellers since, I don't know, probably the dawn of time. Books are pretty frequently just as 'dumb' as movies.

Now while I doubt any film adaptation will ever be as good as Dostoevsky's "Brothers Karamazov" or "Crime and Punishment", and any writing of Dickens cleans the floor with even its best adaptations (with the exception of Scrooge), and let's not even get into Gravity's Rainbow and how it would be dumb to even pretend that should be adapted, the kind of books that really use the maximum potential of their medium are few and far between. I'd stipulate that most 'great novels', in the right hands, could quite possibly be turned into movies that are greater. Because why not?

I assume for many (I suspect I may even have said it a few times myself in the past), the reasoning might turn out to be "Books allow me to use my imagination, and that's better than anything any director could show me?" All I can say to this though is another "Nah". I think we give ourselves too much credit when we say this. Maybe that's what makes it feel so good to believe in this idea that books are unmatchable in their greatness. Because we can claim some amount of authorship over them.

Or maybe they really are that much better, and I'm a big dummy and am reading all the wrong books. I'm certain one of these reasons is definitely more likely than other.



Eyes Wide Shut is nearly a point-for-point adaptation of Dream Story.I'd have to rewatch it, but when I read the book I was always thinking yep, I saw that in the movie.

The ending is the only eminently different part. Other than that, everything from the book is in the movie.



There's loads of stuff from the Godfather novel that was omitted or altered in the movie.
Lucy's Vegas story and the affair with the plastic surgeon, Johnny Fontaine's personal life, Tom Hagen's life, Vito's Consigliere before Tom, Captain's background, Al Neri's (one of my favourite characters from the book) past. Also Fabrizio, Michael's bodyguard in Sicily who betrays him, ends up opening a pizza parlour in America and is murdered when Michael wipes out the heads of the five families.


Michael was more ruthless in the book. I think Michael of Godfather 2 is a better representation.



mattiasflgrtll6's Avatar
The truth is in here
Despite the absence of the dog, The Last Man On Earth is about as faithful as you can get. It really captured the essence of I Am Legend to a tee, and I felt the same wonder that I did when I first read it.
Vincent Price was absolutely incredible, I couldn't possibly imagine a better actor to portray Robert Neville (even though he's called Robert Morgan for some reason).
This is why I'm not itching to see the Will Smith remake. I have nothing against the Hollywood film making style, but the gritty, lowbudget look is exactly what was needed to recapture the kind of atmosphere the book contained.



I don't even agree that books are by default a superior medium. As stated, they can do some things movies can't. But movies can do some things they can't. And I don't know why any of these particular things should be considered better than the other.
I think that there are two issues at play in terms of the "book is better" bias.

The first is that the book always comes first, right? So very often there are aspects of the story or character that people get attached to. In the process of adapting books to film, changes sometimes get made and at times they fly in the face of why someone loved the book in the first place. A character who was described as being plain looking and awkward suddenly looks gorgeous. When you feel a kinship with a book, such changes can feel like a betrayal.

It is also often the case that, just out of pragmatism, things need to be cut from film adaptations. I like the most recent version of Count of Monte Cristo, but then I read the book and was like, DANG!. The film version cuts out over half of the story. So if you are familiar with the book, important interactions or events are just suddenly missing from the story and you feel their loss.

I think that in the right hands, a story that originated in a book can be given something extra by being put on screen. But more often, a successful story is soullessly put on screen without real thought as to how to keep the magic of the book.

I can't think of a case where I've read a book and seen a film and thought that the film was better. I have been really impressed with some adaptations, but even my favorite adaptations are not better than their source material, in my opinion.



Well, the movie only had 3 hours to work with...
Maybe Coppola should've saved that for Part 2, eh?





Registered User
In Cold Blood, 1967...from Truman Capote's novel published in 1966. I recall choosing the book for my high school writing class report in 1972, because it was pretty harsh on my teen psyche and permanently embedded in the brain pan. I had a most wonderful and liberal (for the era) teacher. So, since our next assignment was to create prose about any top ten best selling novel of our choice, I chose "The Happy Hooker." Why? because teach gave me unbridles creative license, and there was that teenage boy thing. Received an "A" to boot.

Mom didn't approve.