Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Books made into Movies and TV series

Fans of Stephen kill will be glad to hear that his 'The Dark Tower' is to be made into a film trilogy and TV series. It will be directed by Ron Howard who says:

“By using both the scope and scale of theatrical filmmaking and the intimacy of television we hope to more comprehensively do justice to the characters, themes and amazing sequences King has given us in The Dark Tower novels. It might be the challenge of a lifetime but clearly a thrilling one to take on and explore.”’


It would be fair to say that every writer would like to see their book/s made into a TV series of a movie. Only a very few are and, when they are, they can be very different from the book/s on which they were based.

The Harry Potter books were made into movies with varying success. The first few followed the books too closely. It wasn't until (I think it was) Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, that they started to interpet the books which led to a more elegantly told story.



Look at the success of Charlaine Harris's True Blood series which had been turned into the TV series of the same name. I found the books an enjoyable read in their genre. Alan Ball, the director of the TV series, has taken the premise and refined it to make a TV series that is biting (sorry about the pun) and insightful. The award winning series titles encapsulates the essence of the TV series.

Then there is the excellent job that Peter Jackson did on Lord of the Rings. Now I must admit that when I read LOTR to my children I skipped the lengthy poems and pages of travelogue. I read my kids the exciting bits and this was what Peter Jackson served up, with hints of the back-story. (Warning, LOTR purists will not agree). I think Jackson improved on Tolkien's structure in the scenes with Faramir. In the book Faramir is never tempted by the ring. He just lets Frodo go. In the movie he has the motivation to keep the ring because he wants to win his father's love and he is tempted, so it is more heroic when he lets Frodo go.

I'm always looking out for new TV series and movies to watch and I particularly like being able to compare these with the books, (if they're based on books). Can you think of a TV series or a movie that is based on a book or series of books that really impressed you?


24 comments:

Brendan said...

Apparently The Dresden Files books got a season on the Sci-Fi channel(I knew going to AussieCon wasn't a waste of time.)

Rowena Cory Daniells said...

Brendan I love Simon Green's Nightside books. They'd make an excellent TV series.

Megan Haskell said...

"Pillars of the Earth" was made into a fantastic mini-series, although I felt that they rushed through the end to the show's detriment. They probably needed another two or three episodes to really capture the epic essence of the book.

I also agree that LOTR was really well done, and I love "True Blood", especially how Alan Bull is interpreting the series rather than trying to stick purely with the books. I disagree with some of his changes, because I think he's weakened a few of the characters roles too much, but I appreciate the fact that I can read the books and watch the show and not entirely feel that I know exactly what's going to happen. Unfortunately, I thought the latest season finale was weak...but I won't go into that now.

Al.X. Ross said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jim McCoy said...

Once upon a time, way back when I was a wee little Jimbo (and possibly before that, I don't actually know when the movie was made, only when I saw it) JRR Tolkien's The Hobbit was made into an animated movie. I loved it. I would love to find a copy of it to watch with my daughter. Oddly enough, it was that movie that lead to my love of fantasy novels. I picked up The Hobbit off the library shelf (GASP!) when I realized it was the movie that I had watched. Don't worry though, I own a copy now, along with a copy of everything else Tolkien has ever published. So that's my pick

The one thing I will mention is that I think converting book to movie works much better than novelizing an existing flick. It just translates better, IMO. The few novelizations that I've read all feel like they're missing something. I'm not really sure what, but it should definitely be there and it's not.

Al.X. Ross said...

Not a book, but a comic, "The Walking Dead" will premiere as a TV series October the 30th.

I am looking forward to it, to my knowledge it's the first time there will be a TV series about zombies.

(Previous post had some errors. ;) )

Anonymous said...

Not sf/f, but The Outsiders was an excellent rendition of the book. It was probably one of the best mirror movies of a books I've ever seen.

Of sf/f, The Abyss was fairly good. The novelization, which I read after I saw the movie, was better. The ending in the book was much better with more depth than the movie. That was to be expected, of course.

I was happy with The Dresden Files. I don't know what the problem was there.

Linda

Rowena Cory Daniells said...

Megan, I've only read the first book, so I don't have the comparison to make on the later series and books.

Rowena Cory Daniells said...

Megan, the problem with a series about people with supernatural powers is that you have to limit their powers. But you have to keep raising the worry factor by having a powerful Big Bad. Which means the hero has to become more powerful.

Eventually the hellmouth destroys Sunnydale!

Rowena Cory Daniells said...

Jim, I was emailing a fellow writer who did a novelisation of a movie and he was in the position where he had to work from t =he script, so he couldn't add anything. All he could do was delve into the characters' motivations.

Then they cut two of the scenes from the movie. So the scenes were in the book, but not in the movie.

Rowena Cory Daniells said...

AI.X.Ross

Did you see the UK TV series about the Big Brother household that didn't know zombies had taken over the world?

That was a hoot. But being British it ended badly for all involved.

Rowena Cory Daniells said...

Linda, I found the Abyss really spooky. There was the question of what was real and what was his imagination.

Rowena Cory Daniells said...

AI.X.Ross

I just remembered what that show was called.

Dead Set

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dead_Set_(TV_series)

Chris McMahon said...

The English Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series was excellent.

Synova said...

Oh, I thought Dresden Files was terrific on television. It wasn't all that much like the books, but I think it worked well.

I've heard complaints from fans that his house was wrong or his car was wrong, but those things were obviously changed because it's easier to film someone in an open jeep than in an ancient VW bug... but both are old and have few electronics. The same with his apartment... having his living area, magical study, and business in the same place with an open floor plan and opening to the street means easier filming and not having to "go" from one to the other, mucking up the flow. I didn't have any sympathy for those complaints... thanks for killing a great show fellas! Grrr. OMG whatserface is supposed to be blond! Sheesh.

Bob needed to be an actor on account of television is visual.

But the biggest change was that the television Harry Dresden's world was much less magical than in the books. It was a distinct change in tone. But there, again, I think it was necessary. In the books we can go to Harry Dresden's world. In the television show we're in OURS. It has to feel like ours.

It's a pity the show didn't get more support.

Synova said...

I recall my husband fussing about Lord of the Rings, that the order of events had been changed. I'm not familiar enough with the books to say (sacrilege!) but I argued that with three movies each primary set of characters had to have more or less equal time... they can't be left out for the entirety of movie #2 just because that's what the books did, if that's what the books did.

Chris L said...

Hi Rowena,

The obvious one missing here is Blade Runner/Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, though it's talked about so often in this context I can understand why no one has brought it up. In my opinion it is one of the best conversions ever.

With regard to your comment about all authors wanting to see their creations on screen, I agree. But I also read an interview with Neil Gaiman on making a movie out the Sandman series, in which he professes a strong reluctance to endorse any project that doesn't meet his exacting standards. In fact there may never be a movie simply because he won't write a script.

Bill Watterson was the same with Calvin and Hobbes - totally against any form of commercialisation.

Stephen Simmons said...

Chris M - That's because the BBC radio series was the actual origin of the Hitchhiker's series. The UK-release book was a novelization of the BBC radio show, and the BBC television series came from the UK-release novel. The American adaptation of the books came later.

Al.X. Ross said...

Rowena you are right. I forgot all about "Death set"

My bad. "The walking death" would be the second.

Let's hope it will be the first with a second season. ;)

Rowena Cory Daniells said...

Chris I really liked Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Universe, but I did think it worked better a a book and as a radio play. The humour was designed to be heard on radio.

Rowena Cory Daniells said...

Synova, Dresden Files haven't made it out to Australia, yet.

I think your reasons for the changes all make sense and people have to accept that film and TV is a different medium.

Rowena Cory Daniells said...

Synova,

The flow of the story worked better in the movies.

Rowena Cory Daniells said...

That last comment was about Lord of the Rings.

They made changes because the story needed it. So these changes didn't worry me.

voradams said...

For me, the best book converted to movie is Hunt for Red October.

It was truthful to the book, the acting is generally awesome (I might be the only one who thinks Connorey was the weakest actor. Just listen to the voices alone without the visuals for a surreal experience)

LoTR was a good movie series, but I have a friend who truly hates it as it took too many liberties with the book. Ironically I am reading LoTR for the fist tim in 25 years while playing the MMORPG, and it is awesome how close to the book the game is. I am at the Rivendell meeting bit, and I walked ingame from Buckland through the Old Forest, to Tom Bomadil's houce (which did not ring true, as it is rendered as a circular house in game), walked to Bree, and then from Bree to the Forsaken Inn, it was quite strange...