Homework Help

A movie better than the book? Or at least as good as the book?I like to try to...

user profile pic

linda-allen | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted March 31, 2008 at 7:54 AM via web

dislike 2 like
A movie better than the book? Or at least as good as the book?

I like to try to introduce my students to as much good literature as I can in the time we have. Since we're set up on a block schedule, meaning that classes meet 90 minutes a day for one semester, it's difficult to cover more than two novels and two plays.

Is there a movie that anyone might consider using in lieu of a book? Do you think the director's and actor's interpretations of the story and characters interfere with the author's intent?

15 Answers | Add Yours

user profile pic

clane | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted March 31, 2008 at 8:10 AM (Answer #2)

dislike 0 like

I love the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings movies! While I do like the books more, they are lengthy, and the movies are really well done and I think cover the author's intent. One summer school class I had a few years back read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, but in order to get to it we had to watch Chamber of Secrets first, we didn't have time to read all three.

I'm hoping that Tom Hanks in the upcoming 2009 release of Fahrenheit 451 is better than the 1960s version- that's terrible!

I also like the Vincent Price Edgar Allan Poe movies. They do add a little to the plot, but they are really entertaining and do a good job of visually capturing some of Poe's imagery. My students like them even though the effects are a little cheesy at times.

user profile pic

amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted March 31, 2008 at 8:21 AM (Answer #3)

dislike 0 like

Kenneth Branaugh's version of Frankenstein with Robert de Niro as the creature is awesome!  There are a few variations from the text, but it's the only one where the intelligence of the creature comes through that I have found.

user profile pic

kwoo1213 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted March 31, 2008 at 10:25 AM (Answer #4)

dislike 0 like

I personally LOVE the 1999 version of A Midsummer Night's Dream with Kevin Kline, Rupert Everett, and Christian Bale (among many other famous actors).  It is a great movie and students LOVE it. 

user profile pic

kwoo1213 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted March 31, 2008 at 10:27 AM (Answer #5)

dislike 0 like

Another movie that is as good or better than the book:  Bridges of Madison County with Meryl Streep and Clint Eastwood (not CLASSIC literature, but good, nonetheless).

user profile pic

allyson | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Assistant Educator

Posted April 2, 2008 at 5:59 AM (Answer #6)

dislike 0 like

There are some really great versions of A Raisin in the Sun. But I do not recommend the newest one with Sean Combs as Walter. The movie version of A Room with a View is also quite good.

user profile pic

cmcqueeney | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted April 2, 2008 at 8:01 AM (Answer #7)

dislike 0 like

I love teaching with movies - I've often used them instead of novels when I don't have the time for a novel.  A few movies that are good but don't have novels to go with them - Braveheart (if you are allowed to show it), The Spitfire Grill, and Dead Poet's Society. Some good movies from novels are Tale of Two Cities, Hamlet, and Jurassic Park. =)

user profile pic

linda-allen | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted April 2, 2008 at 8:31 AM (Answer #8)

dislike 0 like

Which Hamlet do you use? Which Tale of Two Cities? I'd like to use it in my French class to cover the French Revolution, but the only version I know of is from the 1930s.

If anyone's interested, we watched the Marie-Antoinette movie with Kirsten Dunst. BORING!! The kids wanted to get back to working in the textbook!

user profile pic

mrerick | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

Posted April 8, 2008 at 7:16 PM (Answer #9)

dislike 0 like

I personally LOVE the 1999 version of A Midsummer Night's Dream with Kevin Kline, Rupert Everett, and Christian Bale (among many other famous actors).  It is a great movie and students LOVE it. 

That MSND is a good movie version.  Two novels that I teach have excellent movies with them: A Separate Peace, and Of Mice and Men.  I think both of those would suffice in lieu of the text.

user profile pic

asorrell | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Assistant Educator

Posted April 12, 2008 at 1:22 PM (Answer #10)

dislike 0 like

What Separate Peace movie do you use?  I taught the novel for the first time this year and looked around for the movie. The reviews I read on the internet weren't very good so I gave up. 

To Kill a Mockingbird and Of Mice and Men are fabulous, but I don't think I'd ever NOT teach those two books as they are two of my absolute favorites.

The old version of a Raisin in the Sun is great and I think showing the movies of plays is so important because it's important that they see the performance.  I'm getting ready to start working on adding a speech/theatre endorsement to my license and I'd like to use movies if I end up teaching theatre.

Another great movie is Wuthering Heights with Ralph Fiennes and Juliette Binoche.

user profile pic

angelacress | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Assistant Educator

Posted April 14, 2008 at 3:31 PM (Answer #11)

dislike 0 like

The Alfred Hitchcock film, The Birds, was originally a novella, also titled The Birds, by French author Daphne Maurier. It would be difficult to argue that anything is better than the movie, since the movie has become such a classic. In addition, few, if any, movies have done with sound effects (and no music) what Hitchcock did with The Birds.

user profile pic

lequam | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted April 14, 2008 at 8:26 PM (Answer #12)

dislike 0 like

The Lord of the Rings movies are very well done and follow the book quite well.  They also bring out the themes of good versus evil, friendship, sacrifice, and loyalty that are prevalent in the books.  Good discussions can ensue from watching those movies, and they are a good option when time is limited. 

I would also suggest using She's the Man in place of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night.  The movie is a loose interpretation of the play, but the central themes and plot are the same.  Interestingly, the same names are also used in the movie as in the play, which piques students' interest if they ever read the play at a later date. 

user profile pic

podunc | College Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

Posted April 15, 2008 at 5:38 AM (Answer #13)

dislike 0 like

I highly recommend the film adaptation of Howard's End, the E.M. Forster novel. The novel itself is extremely complex as it deals with love relationships, class struggle, gender issues, and more. The translation to a visual medium makes the issues easier to understand, and the acting by Anthony Hopkins, Emma Thompson, and Vanessa Redgrave is superb. I think this is the only film version I actually prefer to the original work. It was released in 1992 by Merchant-Ivory Productions.

user profile pic

kathyw | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

Posted April 18, 2008 at 4:32 AM (Answer #14)

dislike 0 like

Which Hamlet do you use? Which Tale of Two Cities? I'd like to use it in my French class to cover the French Revolution, but the only version I know of is from the 1930s.

If anyone's interested, we watched the Marie-Antoinette movie with Kirsten Dunst. BORING!! The kids wanted to get back to working in the textbook!

I have found no good Tale of Two Cities movie.  The only good part of the 1930s version starring Ronald Coleman is the scene with Pross and Madame Defarge fighting which ends in Defarge's death.  I have rented a BBC version that has some good acting but Jerry Cruncher is conspiciously absent in a film that badly needs comic relief.  Two Cities is such a great book.  You'd think someone could make a great movie as well.

user profile pic

malibrarian | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted April 19, 2008 at 8:44 AM (Answer #15)

dislike 0 like

Regarding A Tale of Two Cities - There is a good miniseries that was made back in the 80s (the decade of the miniseries!!!) that I use parts of - it is really too long (a little over 3 hours) and can be a bit slow-paced at times to show the whole thing.  Just checked it on IMDB - it was made in 1989 and has James Wilby, Xavier Deluc, and Serena Gordon as Sydney, Charles, and Lucie.  You might be able to find it at your local library - I ordered my copy from amazon.com.

Regarding Twelfth Night - Why not just use the Trevor Nunn film version of the play with Helena Bonham-Carter as Olivia and Ben Kingsley as Feste?  All of my students have seen She's the Man and love it, but if there's a good version of the play, I'd much rather expose them to something they haven't already seen a billion times.

user profile pic

accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted June 24, 2010 at 11:13 AM (Answer #16)

dislike 0 like

#4 - Have used that film version in class to support study of this play - an excellent version! I also really really like showing excerpts from the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice. Unfortunately 6 hours is just too long to justify showing in class but it is awesome.

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes