Skip to content
Advertisements

When The Movie’s Better Than The Book

I don’t watch a lot of movies.

I don’t dislike movies. But when I have a few free hours, I like to spend it in other ways. Unless it’s a movie I really want to see, like The Great Gatsby a few months ago, I tend to get bored too easily. That’s just me.

So I’m not one of those guys who watches the Academy Awards every year. In fact, I’m not sure I could give you more than two or three films that have won the Oscars off the top of my head. I just don’t keep up with it.

So it’s not surprising that I didn’t even know A Passage To India was a movie—and it’s even less surprising that I don’t remotely pretend to know that said movie won an Academy Award for Best Picture and Best Director in 1984.

The film starred Judy Davis, and it was director David Lean’s final film. As you might expect from an Oscar winning film, the reviews are pretty good. Rotten Tomatoes gives it 85%. Roger Ebert had this to say: “Forster’s novel is one of the literary landmarks of this century, and now David Lean has made it into one of the greatest screen adaptations I have ever seen.”

All that said, I doubt I watch it. To start, the story in the novel isn’t pulling me at the moment, so I’m doubting I would find the film any more interesting.

Both have high praise, but the story isn’t really jumping off the pages right now. This might be one of the rare cases when a book nerd like me might think the movie could be better than the book. Maybe a Godfather situation here? That’s the polar opposite of great books that became horrible movies. There are plenty of examples of those.

If you’ve read A Passage To India and seen the movie, what do you think?

Or what are some other movies that are better than the books they originated from?

Advertisements
41 Comments Post a comment
  1. I don’t think it’s right to compare movies to the novels they are based on. For the sake of my own enjoyment, I draw a clear line between the two. The narrative my be similar, but I won’t criminalize the movie if it deviates. Movies and Novels are two very different mediums, capable of capturing different aspects of a narrative. Movies can display the full visual/audio panorama, but they can’t convey the psychological depth a novel can. Naturally, if I were directing a movie I might have to introduce whole new scenes to compensate for a single remark in the novel about a characters state of mind.

    That being said, aware of what some directors and screen writers attempt to do, I ignore the similarities and imagine the movie I’m watching is an entirely different story. I tend to appreciate them more and for their own merit (if there is any merit to be appreciated).

    Like

    August 22, 2013
  2. Te saludo amistosamente, pero estoy esperando lograr una traduccin.Un abrazo.Teresa

    Date: Thu, 22 Aug 2013 12:31:08 +0000 To: teresac831@hotmail.com

    Like

    August 22, 2013
  3. I don’t know Passage to India well, but I like the voice of the guy on this video, and I love Judy Davis. Now I’ll probably have to watch it.

    Like

    August 22, 2013
    • The narrator voice always gets me too.

      Like

      August 22, 2013
  4. Gwen Stephens #

    I loved the movie “Bridget Jones’s Diary.” Once I found out it was a novel, I tried to read it, but it was terribly shallow chick-lit. Certain plot lines were added to the movie to make it meatier than the source material. This might be the only example I can think of in which movie outranked book. It’s pretty rare.

    Like

    August 22, 2013
  5. bba #

    David Lean is one of my favorite directors. If you liked Lawrence of Arabia, you’ll like A Passage to India, whether you liked the book or not. If you didn’t like LoA, I doubt you will like APTI. Both have a similar pacing and such.

    Like

    August 22, 2013
    • The book has slow pacing. Similar in the movie?

      Like

      August 22, 2013
  6. There are very, very few movies out there that are better than the book.

    The very first one that always comes to mind for me is The Silence of the Lambs. That movie is so great, but the book is just okay.

    Like

    August 22, 2013
    • Good one. Not a movie, but I’ve always heard the Wicked musical is 8,000 times better than the book. I’ve seen the musical and it’s pretty awesome.

      Like

      August 22, 2013
      • YES. Although I really enjoyed the book, the musical is SO GOOD. It’s so good that I didn’t even care that they’d changed a couple things.

        Like

        August 22, 2013
        • Agreed! Wicked the musical is TONS better than the book. The musical is my all time favorite, but I couldn’t get even a quarter of the way through the book! I even skipped ahead to see if it would get better, and it didn’t. The two are /very/ different.

          Like

          August 22, 2013
          • I read the books years ago when it first came out, so I didn’t have the musical to compare it to back then. I probably wouldn’t enjoy the book half as much if I reread it now (because of the musical).

            Like

            August 22, 2013
    • The Silence of the Lambs was one of the first that popped into my head. What do you think of The Shining. I think that film was a masterpiece.

      I might be wrong but I believe Silence of the Lambs won all five major academy awards…

      Like

      August 22, 2013
      • I wish I had seen The Shining before I read the book, because I think I think I might have liked it more in that order. I read the book first, though, and watched the movie right after. I was pretty disappointed in the movie (in relation to the book), but I love Jack Nicholson. He’s really the only thing about the movie that I liked.

        Like

        August 22, 2013
        • Kubrick puts so much symbolism into the movie. The film is beautifully shot.

          There’s a documentary out about the film that examines all the hidden messages. I highly suggest it

          Like

          August 22, 2013
          • I will definitely look into it. Thanks!

            Like

            August 22, 2013
  7. I would add Jurassic Park and Jaws as well to that list.

    Like

    August 22, 2013
    • I’ve read about 7-8 of Michael Chrichton’s books. Most of them have been turned into films but all exhibit the same tropes and themes. Jurassic Park was a film far ahead of its time and one of the first to use CGI. I’d have to check IMDB but I fairly certain it is ranked as one of the 100 best films of all time.

      Not enough praise can be given to the film Jaws. It was Speihlberg’s first film and is without a doubt a classic. The accolades and praise this film continues to get far outweigh anything that can be said of the book.

      Keeping with this trend of horror films, Psycho is without a doubt a better rendition of the Ed Gein story than the novel. That film changed Hollywood for ever.

      Like

      August 22, 2013
      • true. Psycho is way better than the book too. I think it’s a genre thing probably. It’s easier to film thriller, horror stories than psychologically complex stuff. Also, the directors of these films are obviously masters.

        Like

        August 22, 2013
  8. Reblogged this on Angelica's Blog and commented:
    I hope to watch the entire movie. Thank god the trailer is still available. Thanks to technology and thank you 🙂

    Like

    August 22, 2013
  9. I do watch a lot of movies, and I think the movie version of A Passage to India is better than the book.

    I feel the same way about The Godfather and L.A. Confidential. Hated the books, but loved the movies.

    Like

    August 22, 2013
  10. Keeping with Steven King’s work from one of your recent posts, I think that The Shining is definitely worthy of mention here. I think Kubrick’s film is an absolute gem and arguably his best.

    One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is one of only two or three films to win five academy awards. One could definitely argue that it is better than Ken Kesey’s novel.

    Without a doubt Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is a better film than book. Hunter S. Thompson is hilarious but nothing tops Johnny Depp’s performance.

    Like

    August 22, 2013
  11. I thought that another one of E.M. Forster’s books, A Room with a View, was a better movie than book. Haven’t read or watched A Passage to India, though.

    Like

    August 22, 2013
  12. theartisticpackrat #

    While I haven’t read it myself, I’ve heard Forest Gump is better than the book. Apparently in the book, Gump isn’t as likable, for one. Also haven’t heard great things about the book’s sequel, which actually makes reference to the movie (it didn’t say good things about it). Oh, and fun fact. They were actually going to make a sequel to Forest Gump the movie. Don’t know what the story was going to be but it was going to start where the first movie ends, with Forest waiting at the bus stop for his son. Then September 11 happened, and the writer didn’t think the film would be relevant anymore.

    Like

    August 22, 2013
  13. acwaechter #

    Someone will probably come throttle me for saying this… But I think that the film adaptations of The Lord of the Rings aren’t necessarily “better” than the books, but they do an amazing job of outshining them. I feel differently about The Hobbit though…

    Like

    August 22, 2013
    • LOTR has lots of meaning and value for me. At the same time, Sean Astin did an amazing job of bringing Samwise to life. Agree with you about the Hobbit. I’m hoping the next installments are better.

      Like

      August 22, 2013
  14. “If you’ve read A Passage To India and seen the movie, what do you think?”

    Although both the book and the movie experiences are far in the distant past, I can attest that the book was riveting but the movie was typical David Lean dreck which my wife and I walked out of before it was over. I did see the entire movie years later and was reminded at how lucky we were to have left the cinema early and indulged ourselves in a much more rewarding cup of hot coffee.

    Like

    August 22, 2013
  15. Movies better than the books they have originated from: Sophie’s Choice (starring Merryl Streep and Kevin Kline), The Pianist (starring Adrien Brody), One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (starring Jack Nicholoson), Breakfast at Tiffany’s (Audrey Hepburn), Forrest Gump (Tom Hanks), The Notebook (Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling), The Reader (Kate Winslet), The Hours (Merryl Streep, Julianne Moore, Nicole Kidman), Silence of the Lamb (Anthony Hopkins), Fight Club (Brad Pitt, Eduard Norton, Helena Bonham Carter)

    Like

    August 22, 2013
  16. Although I’m sure I’ll be unpopular for saying so, I didn’t much enjoy the book ‘Life of Pi’ but watched the movie after reading it, and found that much more enjoyable.

    Like

    August 23, 2013
    • I agree. I found the book, Life of Pi, to be merely OK, but was pleasantly surprised by the movie.

      Like

      August 23, 2013
  17. I agree that the Breakfast at Tiffany was a more enjoyable movie than book. I don’t think it’s surprising that “chick lit” books are usually better as movies. The Devil Wears Prada was a good movie, so I picked up the book and didn’t like it at all. Maybe I’m just adverse to chick lit, though.

    Like

    August 23, 2013
  18. some thing agree, some thing not.
    some movie is better than book adapted, for example: Brokeback Mountain. The book (novelet) is so simple but the movie is so awesome be oscar nominee.

    Like

    August 23, 2013
  19. well im a kid so i havent read those books but i understand liking the book better than the movie like in percy jackson it was like the movie was a whole different storyit was infuriating oh im sorry i mean “the kindly oneating” 😉 🙂 i also know what its like to get bored easily 🙂

    Like

    August 24, 2013
  20. well… That is certainly what I call a question with no good answer!
    I can’t really tell you one movie I find better than a book… I can, however, tell you a couple I find to be a good adaptation… But mostly I try to watch a movie before I read the book, just so I don’t get let down as much by the movie.
    The truth is, the movie is often made to grab a different audience,so it’s natural that it may be a little, and sometimes a lot, different.
    Me, since I love movies and also love books, I try to look at each with a different set of eyes.

    Like

    August 26, 2013
  21. I saw Lean’s Passage to India first, then read the book. Enjoyed both immensely. The opening chapter was some very fine writing. One writer whose books translate well to film. That is because his books are cinematically written. He spent the early part of his career as a film reviewer. The Great Gatsby has not been made into an especially good movie, though the Redford version was the best done so far. There are many things wrong with Baz Luhrman’s version. Just to say one: the music was very distracting. And I never believed Toby Maguire as Nick Carroway. He just isn’t convincing. And, of all the roles that are important in the book, Nick Carroway’s is the most important. More so than Gatsby. Carroway is the real protagonist. He is the one with the character arc. The reason Gatsby does lend itself to being a good movie is that it is really a character study, as well as a social critique. I think Fitzgerald realized this after he was well into the novel and threw in a plot late in the story. To be a good movie, a book must have a plot. That is what films are based on. At least this is my opinion for what it is worth.

    Like

    September 6, 2013
  22. Lean’s Passage is really quite good, if you like his sweeping epic style. It’s mostly true to the book except what happens in the cave is suggested as being linked to Miss Quested’s sexual repression. In fact, Lean added a scene not in the book in which she stumbles into a grove of erotic statuary that makes this quite explicitly clear. And there are savage monkeys! Superb acting, even if it takes a leap to accept Sir Alec Guiness as a Hindu Brahmin.

    Like

    September 11, 2013
  23. LarBar #

    Haven’t read the book but did see the film. Should give it another viewing, to be fair, but I preferred the Merchant-Ivory adaptations of Forster’s A Room With A View and Howards End. I did read the books for those two and confess the narratives were kind of wooden. Great ideas and themes but in execution, repressed, maybe? Tempting to read the author’s situation of repressed sexuality into his prose, but that is probably unfair. (Incidentally, don’t know if anyone already noted it but A Passage to India was nominated for Best Picture and Best Director in 1984 but lost to Amadeus in both categories that year.)

    Like

    January 19, 2016

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Book #61: A Passage To India | 101 Books

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: