9 Film Adaptations That Are Better Than The Book

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Atonement

Atonement

Ian McEwan’s 2002 historical drama is a story so dependent on words, stories and unreliable narration that it feels anchored to its literary roots. However, its 2007 film does not skimp on the characters nor streamline the scintillating chain of events.

The first half of McEwan’s novel takes place on one hot summer day at a family mansion in England. The evening comes to a climax when young Briony (Saoirse Ronan, in an Oscar-nominated debut) finds her older sister Cecilia (Keira Knightley) having sex with the servant’s son, Robbie (James McAvoy). However, Briony thinks Robbie is assaulting Cecilia, which the police confirm through erotic letters he wrote her. As per the novel, Joe Wright’s adaptation frames the action from many different perspectives, especially Briony’s, so that the audience can understand what turns out to be a misunderstanding. It’s a tense family drama with the overwhelming power of words.

The novel, on the other hand, begins to stumble once it moves into World War II, where Robbie fights, ponders his innocence and is then wounded. This is an example when a fragmented storyline suits the film. Wright manages to excise some of this fat, replacing it with a five-minute tracking shot that brings the living hell of a war to view with frightening tenacity and glorious visuals, a riveting example of ‘showing’ what even McEwan could not tell in such a capacity.

Comments (4)

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  1. The film adaptation of fight club is not better then the book. Both of them are equally good but in different ways. The movie is more about Tyler, his alter ego and the life “they” live. While the book focus more on the social behaviour of people, free will and govermential downfall.

  2. Iam_Spartacussays:

    Surprised Shawshank isn’t here. Granted, it wasn’t a full novel it was adapted from, but Darabont did a bang up job expanding and giving more depth to the characters. Although I could’ve done without the narration.

  3. maximillianrex carpediemsays:

    Forrest Gump. Definitely. If it stuck to the book it would be a hard R and not nearly as charming.

  4. HardJusticesays:

    C’mon Jordan, there are far more interesting examples than these. I read Roderick Thorp’s book “Nothing Lasts Forever.” The film adaptation was immeasurably better. You’ve all seen it. Look it up. It’s also the best Christmas film ever made 😉

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