One of my earliest jobs as a youth was at the local cinema. On my days off, when I wasn’t busy dishing out popcorn and candy for the customers, I would cash in on my perk of being a theater employee and watch movies. I watched nearly everything the theater brought in without prejudice; love stories, thrillers, documentaries, comedies, and children’s films were all fair game.
A few years later, as I immersed myself in the role of being a librarian, I discovered that many of the movies I had seen in my younger years actually began as books. What a novel idea! I took home a copy of Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park to see if the book was as good as my then-favorite movie, directed by film legend Stephen Spielberg. Crichton’s fast-paced novel of enormous adventure did not disappoint, and I was immediately hooked on the book-to-movie experience.
Over the eyars, I have had the thrill and disappointment of seeing some of my favorite titles transformed from page to silver screen. Jumanji and Zathura, both children’s books written by Michigan-native Chris Van Allsburg, were cinematic hits I still enjoy in both book and movie form. Young adult titles The Fault in Our Stars, written by John Green, and Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli are great stories on and off camera that depict life and tug at the heart strings. And, while neither Odd Thomas, written by Dean Koontz, nor Horns, written by Joe Hill (son of the legendary Stephen King), made it to the big screen, small screen adaptations of both these novels were produced with excellent visual effects and story lines that ran true to the authors’ words.
Which brings up an interesting question: if a movie adaptation does not run true to the story line of the book, does that make it a bad film? This year alone brought two of my favorite recent novels to the box office- science-fiction thriller Annihilation, by Jeff VanderMeer, and Ready Player One, a futuristic virtual reality treasure hunt, penned by Ernest Cline. Director Alex Garland’s on-screen version of VanderMeer’s eerie novel stays true to the setting and tone of the novel while taking a not-so-exact route with the story line. At first I found this disappointing, but the movie, much like the book, still resulted in an experience that left me feeling haunted. And then there’s Stephen Spielberg. He took Cline’s 1980s-referenced, action-packed adventure and switched it up. Though Spielberg completely changed many of the book’s significant events, he did it in a way that was equally as entertaining and effective to the overall feel of the story, much like the masterpiece he created with Crichton’s Jurassic Park.
Modern tales are not the only books being made into movies. Shakespeare’s stories were created long before the invention of the motion picture, but that hasn’t stopped filmmakers from trying their hand at interpreting the Bard’s works. Obvious translations can be seen in various versions of Romeo and Juliet and Macbeth, while screen adaptations of his plays can also be found in the films 10 Things I Hate About You, and Disney’s The Lion King, which tell the stories of The Taming of the Shrew and Hamlet in not-so-obvious ways. Other classics such as Les Miserables, Pride and Prejudice, and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes continue to be periodically reinvented in fantastic ways.
As long as books and movies continue to thrive in our culture, it’s a good chance that their worlds will continue to collide. Sometimes the result is epic; sometimes the result is better left unseen; but either way, books and movies provide us with unstoppable entertainment.
Check out our shelves to find versions of these books, movies, and more!
Library note: Currently in production/now showing are film/TV versions of…
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken
Fantastic Beasts by J.K. Rowling
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
…and many others. Grab a copy of the book and read it before you see the movie!