Saturday, December 4, 2010


Julie's right, of course. I'm a definite Snape fan - for all of the reasons she gives, plus that shiveringly sensual delivery of the speech where we first meet the character in the film... Mmmmm. And yes, I'll admit to a shameful lech at some of the younger characters (Ron has caught my eye, but I'll have to watch out for the twins...) Although when I watch the DVDs of the earlier Harry Potter films, it makes me feel terribly old!

Cedric Diggory.... no. He was just too perfect!

I can't comment on the latest HP - I haven't seen it yet. And since I make a point of not reading the books until I've seen the movie, I don't know what I'll be facing, either.

But I like it that way. Given the choice, I'll always watch an adaptation first, and then read the book. The other way round is so often a road to disappointment. Our expectations are too high, maybe?

Sometimes, though, if it's a much-loved book, you can't escape seeing an TV or big screen adaptation after you've read (and re-read and re-read) the book. The Narnia books are one example. I think I've seen three adaptations of those now, and happily they've never disappointed. Those books are so much a part of my childhood it's almost painful to go to the cinema to see the latest, I'm always so afraid they'll somehow murder the soul of the story. But although the newest versions have certainly changed the story, they've left the beauty of that soul untouched.

I always remember how shocked I was with an otherwise lovely TV version of Ellis Peters' Cadfael stories. Derek Jacobi was, of course, brilliant in the role. But there was one character - a recurring character in the books - who was a shining beacon of goodness and humility. He was miraculously healed of lameness in the book which introduced him, then went on to take holy orders, be ordained, and run a charitable hospital. For all his goodness, he understood the frailties of humanity, and never judged. Everyone who knew him was in some small way blessed and restored.

In the adaptation they made him a scheming confidence trickster and thief.

I understand that perhaps they thought the modern audience wouldn't accept a miracle. But did they have to turn the character into the complete opposite of himself? It was such a shame.

But at least I can read the book again, and meet him as he was first written.

What adaptations have caught your eye for being brilliantly done, or perhaps for changing too much? Do you read the books first, or after, given the choice?

Don't forget to venture back on Thursday, when Christina will be sharing her thoughts.


  1. I read books first if its something I am really interested in. I read little women when I was a little kid, I read it a lot of times and then when I finally saw the movie (prolly my 1st adaptation) I was not happy they caught some bits out of it. Of course now I understand a movie can only be so long.

  2. It's hard, isn't it, Joanna! I get it, too, that a movie is shorter than a book, but sometimes I wonder why they've left out one thing, and left in something else... Thanks for commenting. :-)

  3. I can remember watching the Kenneth Branagh adaptation of Frankenstein, after I'd read the book in requirement of my English degree.

    I enjoyed the adaptation, but the ending was so different to the book and I fervently wished they'd stuck to the original. But, never mind!

  4. I usually read the book first. I figure a movie takes two hours to watch, but a book takes a lot longer to read, so if I'm going to end up disappointed because something's changed, I'd rather only be disappointed for two hours.

    But I often enjoy it when something's changed, trying to find out why. For example I love the Dexter books, but when I watched the first series of the TV show, they kept a character alive who died in the book. Figuring out why, taught me something about point of view and what works for scripts. The books are told from Dexter's point of view, but the TV show is more objective, and the character was a lot more sympathetic seen from the outside.

    (You gotta notice the Weasley twins next time, Anna...)

  5. I remember that one, Nicolette - hugely dramatic and visually spendid, but.... :-)

    I'll keep my eye out for the twins, I swear! I, too, like figuring out why they've made changes.. it's the writer brain, I guess!

  6. My favourite adaptations are the Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries done by the BBC in the 1980s. But you probably knew that anyway!

    Can't wait to see the newest Harry Potter... soon. Very soon.

  7. You're a genius. I've never once thought of watching the movie before reading the book, and now I see that's why I'm always disappointed. Maybe if I watch the movie first, I'll appreciate the book even more!

  8. Going back a long way I seem to recall the tv adaptation of the Thornbirds lived up to the book pretty well but they had time. Recently there was the new Brideshead revisited and I hadn't read the book in years but remember that first series with such love...the new was good but....


  9. I loved the film adaptation of "Inkheart" because the film had a much happier ending than the book (sorry, just love HEA's). Haven't read the other two books in that series though, so maybe they're different.

    I always read the books first because I'm impatient and can't wait. I'm usually not too disappointed though because even though some things are left out due to time constraints, I know they happen since it said so in the book. Strange reasoning perhaps, but still ...

    There are some films you just don't understand unless you've read the book though - Frank Herbert's "Dune" for example (the first film). And some where they just leave out too much - the second Stieg Larsson "The Girl Who Played With Fire" springs to mind.

    Re: Cadfael - I felt they didn't get Hugh Beringar right, which was a shame (and I guess it didn't help that they changed actors for that role after a couple of episodes).