There has been a lot of debate over novels and their cinematic adaptations. Book-lovers never seem to admit the existence of movies better than the book. Justly so, because sometimes the process of transforming a novel into a film can be rather inelegant.
However, let’s admit it: movie adaptations almost always help viewers visualize the words in the novel. It is a highly complicated process. Movie-makers have to keep a lot of things in mind. They have to remain loyal to the original plot, while meticulously cutting and adding some other stuff. Some emotions and details, however, get lost in translation.
Books give detailed explanations and help in expressing complex feelings and reveal nuanced complexities in relationships. Movies, on the other hand, bring words to life. And how! That said, here’s a small compilation of 10 movies better than the book.
(You might also want to confirm what you like better, books or moves!)
1. Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
The book from 1981 on which the film is based was called Who Censored Roger Rabbit? By Gary Wolf. Wolf creates a whole new universe where cartoon characters interact with humans.
For obvious reasons here, this is #1 in the list of movies better than the book. How could any book with cartoon and comic book characters and no graphics be as fascinating as a visual medium? The book is nevertheless quite celebrated for its innovation.
The director, Robert Zemeckis, in 1998, made sure to take advantage of the idea and proceeded to make a brilliant film. He mixed motion graphics with live-action, and was so meticulous while doing so that this movie is celebrated even today!
Fun Fact: Robert Zemeckis managed to bring together two of the most loved cartoon characters on screen. Any guesses? (Hint: an almost impossible and the first collaboration between Disney and Warner Bros, back in the day!)
2. Forrest Gump
Another one directed by Robert Zemeckis, Forrest Gump, is based on a novel by Winston Groom (1986). Before being adapted into a full-length feature film by Paramore Pictures in 1994, the novel is said to have sold 30,000 copies.
The plot portrays many decades in the life of Forrest Gump (played by Tom Hanks!!), a slow-witted yet warm-hearted man from Alabama who encounters many major political developments in the United States during the 20th century and inadvertently affects them. The film is significantly different from the book.
In the novel, Forrest is a healthy kid who grew up to become an astronaut. In space, he encounters a monkey called Sue and is nearly consumed by cannibals when he falls in the forest. This part was, however, removed from the script of the film.
In fact, according to Winston Groom, the film “took some of the rough edges off” Forrest. This, however, works well with the movie making it a pleasant watch. The film makes full use of visual effects to make the protagonists communicate with actual historical people. For many viewers, this tops the list of movies better than the book!
That been said, here’s a list of movies you must watch if you happened to like Forrest Gump!
3. Fight Club
The movie Fight Club, directed by David Fincher, is based on a novel of the same name by Chuck Palahniuk. The plot centers around an unnamed, young man perturbed with his bureaucratic dead-end career and materialistic lifestyle. He is unable to sleep and wants to die. At some point in the story, Joe lets loose an alter ego, Tyler Durden, who stands, drives, speaks, and fornicates just like Joe wished he could.
Now let’s talk about why and how the movies better than the book. Let’s base this argument on one simple and straight fact: The author Palahniuk himself agreed that Fincher could make connections in the movie he never even saw. Needless to say, the book and the film are drastically different from each other. Having said that, if you happen to read the book after watching the movie, you would notice no substantial addition.
Written by Robert Bloch, Psycho is a horror novel of 1959. The book reveals the story of Norman Bates, a caretaker at an abandoned hotel who struggles against his powerful mother and is entangled in a string of murders.
The novel is deemed the most enduring fiction by Bloch, and one of the 20th century’s most popular horror novels. The plot was then applied to the 1960 classic film of the same name by Alfred Hitchcock, which was later loosely adapted into the television show Bates Motel (2013-2017).
The murder of Marian Crane (Janet Leigh) in her hotel room shower, when she is enjoying the warm water, is considered one of the most iconic moments in the film and all of the cinema. Yet in the 1959 novel, the assassination is just a line. Building the tension by establishing the character of Marion, and making Bates more real, Alfred Hitchcock made the murder legendary. He brought the less-than-thrilling suspense down to a whole new level at times in the movie.
It is no secret that the book itself is hugely thrilling. However, this adaptation is worth mentioning in the list of movies better than the book!
Fun Fact: The film by Alfred Hitchcock is rated #1 on the American Film Institute’s list of one hundred most thrilling films.
You can check the other 99 of them here!
5. Blade Runner
The 1982 film Blade Runner is based on a science fiction novel by American writer Philip K. Dick with the name Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? in 1968. The story is set in a post-apocalyptic San Francisco, where a nuclear war has significantly destroyed Earth’s biodiversity, making numerous wildlife organisms vulnerable or extinct.
The key plot follows a bounty hunter who is charged with destroying six Nexus-6 model androids that have fled, whilst a secondary plot follows a man with low IQ who protects the fleeing androids. The novel is indeed an excellent read.
However, the cinematic adaptation of the book by Ridley Scott outshines it, because it is one of the most provocative, magnificent, and other-worldly sci-fi films out there, with a phenomenal showcase from its entire cast. It would be an insult not to add this to the list of movies better than the book!
Fun Fact: Some later editions of the novel sold copies retitled as Blade Runner: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
6. The Notebook
The Notebook is a romantic drama film directed by Nick Cassavetes in 2004. It is based on a novel of the same name written by American novelist Nicholas Sparks in 1996. The movie stars Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams as a young couple falling in love during the 1940s. An old man (played by James Garner) reads their narrative from a diary in the modern-day, relating the tale to a nearby nursing home patient.
Many of the books by Nicholas Sparks have been made into movies. However, none of them are as beautiful as the one in question, thus making it to the list of the film better than the book.
What often reads as schmaltzy on paper comes to life beautifully on a visual medium. The famous rain sequence of the movie is nothing but magical and could not be expressed as beautifully in mere words. This one scene and the gorgeous pairing of Gosling and McAdams makes this movie better than the book.
Fun Fact: The Notebook also inspired two other movies, one from Bollywood and one from Tollywood- Zindagi Tere Naam (2012) and Niyoti (2016), respectively.
What most people do not know about Jaws is that it is based on a novel of the same name by American writer Peter Benchley published just a year before the film’s release. It narrates the story of a huge white shark preying on a tiny beach town and the journey of the three people attempting to kill it.
Before the novel was even published, film producers Richard D. Zanuck and David Brown purchased the movie rights to the novel and chose Steven Spielberg to direct it. The movie essentially omitted all of the novel’s subplots, focussing only on the shark and the voyage of the three men. Spielberg was able to elevate a book that was perfectly fine into something that was way more tense, profound, and breathtaking.
It was the first significant motion picture solely shot by and on the ocean. It is a movie where the antagonist is more than what is in the water; where humans become their own most significant rivals, emphasizing on inter and intra-personal relationships.
The novel is undoubtedly impressive, but the movie surpasses the brilliance of the former. So much so that Jaws became the highest-grossing masterpiece at the time- a record it held until the release of Star Wars. Hence, of course, it made it to the list of movies better than the book!!
8. Jurassic Park
Another one of Steven Spielberg’s masterpieces, Jurassic Park, is based on a science fiction novel with the same name by Michael Crichton in 1990. The plot depicts the destruction of an amusement park featuring genetically re-created dinosaurs to demonstrate the scientific model of chaos theory and its consequences for the modern world.
The sequel of the book was published (The Lost World) was published in 1995. However, by then, Steven Spielberg had already adapted the first book into a movie in 1993. The book explains scientific theories in great detail. But the movie depicts the story more profoundly using special effects and graphics.
The movie made many minor changes to the original plot but somehow managed to remain fairly loyal to the novel. People who died in the book lived in the movie, and those who died in the movie lived in the book. The tone of the movie is also lighter, making a thriller movie pleasant to watch. It would be really unfair if this did not make it to the list of movies better than the book.
Fun Fact: Although the movie runs for more than 2 hours, the screentime of the dinosaur is reduced to only 15 minutes to enhance the dramatic impact.
9. Bridget Jones’s Diary
Bridget Jones’s Diary is the cinematic adaptation of a 1996 novel of the same name by Helen Fielding. Written and published in the form of a personal diary, the book is a year-long chronicle in the life of Bridget Jones, a 30+ single young woman working in London. Her life changes when two men fight for her attention.
In her diary, therefore, she talks about her life, friends, family, and romantic partners. It is a feel-good version of Pride and Prejudice, with added humor. The rom-com, directed by Sharon Maguire, follows the same plot. With the outstanding cast of Renee Zellweger, Hugh Grant, and Colin Firth, it is no surprise at all that the movie is so loved and celebrated.
The only significant difference between the book and the movie is about one of its subplots. In the book, the protagonist’s mother is quite irritable. However, the movie has sensitized her character to a large extent. This showcase of compassion also aids in making it to the list of movies better than the book.
10. The Princess Bride
The book by the same name published in 1973 by American writer William Goldman was a New York Times Bestseller. However, there is no denying that the story is told best on screen. The novel blends humor, suspense, adventure romance, fantasy, and fairy tale elements.
What stands out about this particular adaptation is that it was done by the author himself! He made sure to preserve the narrative by presenting the movie as a novel read out by a grandparent to his sick grandson. It tells the tale of a farmer called Westley, assisted by friends on the journey to save his beloved Princess Buttercup from the loathsome Prince Humperdinck.
As mentioned earlier, the narrative style remains the same. However, the movie brings the characters to life. The delivery of the dialogues adds more humor than you might have expected from the book. Romance is also better depicted on screen for this one!
As a concluding remark, it has to be said that most books on this list are fabulous reads. However, when compared with their cinematic adaptations, these are movies better than the books. It does not harm to admit that some novels fit best as movie plots. You might want to check out 10 Books Which Would Serve As Best Plot For Movies.
It is also important to note that most movies and books have their unique qualities. It is almost unfair to make a comparison between the two. Books give out nuanced details that get lost in the movies, while movies have their little twists and/or character developments. These things have their own personal charm and only add to the reader and the viewer’s pleasure. That been said, here’s a list of books that are unparalleled in this regard.