Worst Book-to-Film?  C'mon, worst lists are always more fun than best lists.... Every time a book is adapted to film, there will be critics. Of course, the film maker cannot bring everything to...

Worst Book-to-Film?

 C'mon, worst lists are always more fun than best lists....

Every time a book is adapted to film, there will be critics. Of course, the film maker cannot bring everything to the screen that fills the novel, but some books translate better than others.  Some should probably never be attempted.

Who is your nominee for worst book-to-film adaptation?

Expert Answers
sfwriter eNotes educator| Certified Educator
Worst Book-to-Film?

C'mon, worst lists are always more fun than best lists....

Every time a book is adapted to film, there will be critics. Of course, the film maker cannot bring everything to the screen that fills the novel, but some books translate better than others.  Some should probably never be attempted.

Who is your nominee for worst book-to-film adaptation?

  Great topic.  While I agree with almost all of the posts about turkey-movies from much better books (except I thought Catch-22 wasn't all that bad) but one of the worst, all time, has got to be Possession.  They took a Booker Prize winner and put Gwyneth Paltrow in it (who might have physically resembled Maud, but that was all), and Aaron Eckart was disastrous (and innacurate) as Roland.  Not even the very good actors Jeremy Northam and Jennifer Ehle could save it.  It was a yawn-fest, while the book was completely engrossing and delightful.

robertwilliam eNotes educator| Certified Educator

At #25, I think all of Zeffirelli's Shakespeare films are painfully bad and dull. Taming of the Shrew, Hamlet (with Mel Gibson!!) and the interminable camp, trite, faux-Italian but still very repressed-English Romeo and Juliet. For my money, burn them all- I reckon they've put more kids off Shakespeare than anything else!

I don't think either adaptation of "Lolita" works particularly well as a version of the book. But Kubrick's is brilliant as a film in its own right - the Jeremy Irons version isn't.

I think that the Al Pacino version of "The Merchant of Venice" takes the award for me though. Passionless, self-indulgent, slooooo-oooooow speaking, and a film that makes the idea of spending three hours painting a wall and watching it dry seem attractive. Spare us.

tresvivace eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I didn't see the Demi Moore version of The Scarlet Letter, but I recall that they even included the caveat "Loosely adapted from the novel by Nathaniel Hawthorne" or something like that.

My nomination for worst book-to-film, though, is Native Son.  It was not only a poor adaptation of the story, the film was badly produced--grainy and unfocused.  The acting was over the top and stilted.  I showed it once (and we may not have even finished it) and never again.  Instead, after trying that bad version of Native Son, I paired Native Son with the fine film A Place in the Sun (based on Dreiser's An American Tragedy--both book and film can be effectively compared to the Richard Wright novel).

This is a fun topic!

linda-allen eNotes educator| Certified Educator

IT by Steven King. Holy goodness that was a HORRIBLE movie while to book rocked my socks off!!

Another is the newest version of Great Expectations. Wow. I wanted to show a more updated version to my class but let's just say thank goodness I previewed it. Needless to say I busted out the old version I had...

I agree with you. I haven't read the book, but I was very disappointed with the movie. I watched the first half, waiting for the creature to be revealed as some ugly, disgusting brain eater. What did it turn out to be? A giant spider! Oh, please!

Both versions of Salem's Lot were pretty bad, too, don't you think?

Jamie Wheeler eNotes educator| Certified Educator

While we're speaking of interior novels that flopped on-screen, let's add Twilight to the list.  Most of that novel is Bella's thought process; it is impossible to relate all of that detail on screen, especially without a more active narrator (the movie had maybe 5 lines of narration-very odd).

Oh, I agree, ghastly.  I think Meyers is a very so-so writer.  Good ideas but her plodding got very much on my nerves.  The director seems to have chosen *that* aspect to focus on.

Susan Hurn eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Reaching back into the past, I would have to nominate The Great Gatsby with Robert Redford and Mia Farrow. Fitzgerald's work doesn't film well anyway, since his prose is so poetic and so much of the action is internal, but Gatsby the Movie was awful! The dialog sounded so artificial and stilted, Robert Redford looked confused throughout, and I kept expecting Mia Farrow's wig to fall off. The only way to enjoy watching this movie would be to turn off the sound and look at the pictures.

litchick2011 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Any of the early versions of Romeo and Juliet--the actors were about 20 years too old.

Kid books sometimes don't translate very well--anyone see Pippi Longstocking?

And yes, that Scarlet Letter was AWFUL.

Hopefully you don't mean the 1968 Zeffirelli. The main actors were both in their teens - Olivia Hussey (Juliet) was 16 or 17, and Leonard Whiting (Romeo) was 18 or 19.

alexb2 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Call of the Wild has to be my pick. The story doesn't translate well from the dog's mind to man's. We see the whole Jack London story from the eyes of Buck, and then the movie turns it around and ruins the perspective. It's like they tried, they just couldn't pull it off.

Call of the Wild may not have been any good, but Into the Wild was great!

dswain001 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As a Twilight fan, I must say the movie did the book no justice. Certain things were left out that I think shouldn't have. For example, the incident with the blood testing in science class. Harry Potter also. The director of the first film did his best to stay very true to the novel. But each film after that has strayed further and further away.

linda-allen eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Scarlet Letter with Demi Moore.  Talk about creative license!  UGH! 

Another one is Beowulf with Angelina Jolie.  Half the stuff never even happened, and "Grendel's" gold costume is a little too much.

 

I forgot about those two. You are right!

cmcqueeney eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Scarlet Letter with Demi Moore.  Talk about creative license!  UGH! 

Another one is Beowulf with Angelina Jolie.  Half the stuff never even happened, and "Grendel's" gold costume is a little too much.

 

I agree about the Scarlet Letter!

Scott Locklear eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Hmmm....I tend to be fairly generous spirited with adaptations: medium-hopping is never easy and definitely never perfect. But that said, I really, really cannot stand Steven Spielberg's cloying version of The Color Purple.

Jen Sambdman eNotes educator| Certified Educator

IT by Steven King. Holy goodness that was a HORRIBLE movie while to book rocked my socks off!!

Another is the newest version of Great Expectations. Wow. I wanted to show a more updated version to my class but let's just say thank goodness I previewed it. Needless to say I busted out the old version I had...

linda-allen eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The World According to Garp....really, any Irving novel that has become a movie....there is so much complexity to all of his novels that a movie can't do them justice.

No, not Garp--Hotel New Hampshire. Are they really bad movies, or are the books overrated too?

mrs-campbell eNotes educator| Certified Educator

While we're speaking of interior novels that flopped on-screen, let's add Twilight to the list.  Most of that novel is Bella's thought process; it is impossible to relate all of that detail on screen, especially without a more active narrator (the movie had maybe 5 lines of narration-very odd).

writergal06 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Beowulf is at the top of my list. My students know that just mentioning the movie will elicit at least a ten minute rant. I wasn't a big fan of The Golden Compass either. The changes made for the movie seemed to me to remove all the suspense. I felt the movie was very anti-climatic.

engtchr5 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Call of the Wild has to be my pick. The story doesn't translate well from the dog's mind to man's. We see the whole Jack London story from the eyes of Buck, and then the movie turns it around and ruins the perspective. It's like they tried, they just couldn't pull it off.

jilllessa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I would have to agree with # 6 that Beowulf was one of  the worst book to film creations that there ever was.  As a medievalist, I was appalled.  As a science fiction fan, I would have to say that both Dune and Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy were dismal failures as well.

lynn30k eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Any of the early versions of Romeo and Juliet--the actors were about 20 years too old.

Kid books sometimes don't translate very well--anyone see Pippi Longstocking?

And yes, that Scarlet Letter was AWFUL.

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

How about Possession by A. S. Byatt? The film version completely robbed the original of its intellectual depth and fascination. I also agree that The Scarlet Letter was a definite flop. I did actually quite like the Twilight film though!

amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Scarlet Letter with Demi Moore.  Talk about creative license!  UGH! 

Another one is Beowulf with Angelina Jolie.  Half the stuff never even happened, and "Grendel's" gold costume is a little too much.

 

pippin1313 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"The Da Vinci Code" annoyed me beyond all belief. How on earth did Tom Hanks manage to be so annoying?? It could just be me. However the suspence that was built up in the novel just did not come across in the film.

Jamie Wheeler eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I was disappointed in Memoirs of a GeishaThe novel is so interior I doubted it could translate well to film, and I was right. 

litchick2011 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The World According to Garp....really, any Irving novel that has become a movie....there is so much complexity to all of his novels that a movie can't do them justice.

lynn30k eNotes educator| Certified Educator

To #25--no, the Zefirelli film was well cast. I'm thinking of the 1936 version, starring 43 year old Leslie Howard as Romeo, playing off of Norma Shearer's 34 year old Juliet.

jeff-hauge eNotes educator| Certified Educator

No doubt that "It" was a joke compared to the depth of the book. The theater of the mind trumps all. I was rooting for Pennywise in the movie. 

alexb2 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The most disappointing I have seen is Ask the Dust. It's a remarkable book by John Fante, and the movie was just horrendous. 

Scott Locklear eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I'll jump on the IT movie-version-bashing bandwagon too. Horrible...even for a Stephen King adaptation.

linda-allen eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Beloved has to be my pick. It just went on and on and never seemed to end.

kbelle635 | Student

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin was a really good mystery. However, the movie version, Get a Clue, was not. They changed key plot elements and removed vital characters. In an effort to modernize the story, they failed to keep the story genuine. 

spearnicholas | Student

I think that the worst book-to-film was Percy Jackson's The Lightning Thief. They cut have the book out and replaced it with either parts from the other books or their own parts.

twlightlover2010 | Student

I thought the film did not compare to the book.  I am probably bias because I think many books are so much better then the films.  I did not care for "Eragon" film, "Twilight" film, or "The City of Ember" film.  If you take the films separate from the book I guess the are well done but I enjoy the details of books.  I enjoy creating my own image with well written books.  Technology is always rapidly expanding but so much is often lost in translation when a book is adapted to a movie.  In fact there have been studies that show the language is simplified. 

I have to that Eragon was HORRIBLE. I read the book and was just as disappointed with that as I was with Harry Potter. I never read City of Ember....but I didn't care for the movie anyway. Twilight..well I did myself a favor and watched the movie first so it wasn't a HUGE disapppointment for me..but there was definitely things missing.

twlightlover2010 | Student

I have to agree with dswain001 about the movie missing a few parts. I have to say though it wasn't as bad as Harry Potter. The first movie was ok...but the ones after that were botched to say the least. I am a HUGE twilight fan, and I LOVE the books and I will watch all the movies. But they could try and make sure the important stuff isn't left out.

blair-enchanted | Student

It has to be twilight!!! The book is the most amazing book ever to be written however the movie was not at all good. It didn't flow well and didn't capture any of the books romance.

johnnygiocoso1220 | Student

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix has to be the worst adaptation of the novel, in my opinion, because they took way too many scenes out of the novel. There was very little reference to the O.W.L.'s that fifth years had to take, which should have been the second priority of the movie after the Order of the Phoenix itself. After the attack of the dementors, the Dursleys' leaving the house looked really awkward. There was little focus on the the House of Black, which is suppose to be a really important setting later in the series, especially in the seventh book. There should have a bit more action. They also took out the scene where the Weasleys children and Harry Potter were to go back to the House of Black and, later, St. Mungo's. Those were pretty good scenes with settings that would later have to be used anyways.

readingdiva | Student

I thought the film did not compare to the book.  I am probably bias because I think many books are so much better then the films.  I did not care for "Eragon" film, "Twilight" film, or "The City of Ember" film.  If you take the films separate from the book I guess the are well done but I enjoy the details of books.  I enjoy creating my own image with well written books.  Technology is always rapidly expanding but so much is often lost in translation when a book is adapted to a movie.  In fact there have been studies that show the language is simplified. 

frizzyperm | Student

'Troy' ...the movie was an appalling, rubbish hatchet job of the Greek Myth (is that a book?)

'Captain Corelli's Mandolin' ... from fabulous, heart-breaking book to overdone turkey.

Catch 22 ... It was never going to work as a movie. 

The Hitch Hikers Guide to The Galaxy ... what a waste of a brilliant comedy.

But the worst... The Golden Compass. Hollywood ripped it's religious guts out so the right-wing loons wouldn't whip up 'moral outrage' and force its withdrawl (ie religious self-censorship). And it was rubbish anyway.

amycrawford33 | Student

I agree with cadena, definitely twilight and every thing you said but also i didn't think that Bella or Edward were played right in the movie, i had such high expectations but they all filtered away within the first 5 minutes. You can't get a good movie when most of the book in in thought.