Armchair BEA Day#5 – Book to Movie Adaptations

Armchair BEA Day#5 – Book to Movie Adaptations

This is the final day of Armchair BEA. Bummer. The days ahead will contain numerous wrap up posts and announcement of giveaway winners on the Armchair BEA Headquarters blog, as well as the participating bloggers–all who are linked to and noted per topic–so the event isn’t precisely over. But, as for new topics of book discussion, this is the finale.

If you missed any of my previous Armchair BEA blogs, they are listed to the left on the sidebar with links.

Today’s topics to choose from were “middle grade or young adult” or “topic of choice.” No brainer for me! Book to Movie Adaptations! This is a topic that could be never-ending since the number of movies brought to the silver screen is immense. This library compiled a list of over 1450 titles: Based on the Book. Far more than I ever imagined, yet probably not exhaustive.

My post is two-fold. Below is a quiz that should not be too hard if you are a cinephile, although I did throw in a couple toughies! Match the literary description with the movie version. Post answers in the comment section. Good luck!

book:movie adaptation quiz


In general I am extremely forgiving with the liberties required to transform a book into a movie. The two mediums are vastly different on a host of levels, and with time a big element in most instances (2 or 3 hours versus a thick book) compromises and sacrifices are expected. Additionally, I am hugely visual, so when a movie is well done and well casted, the benefits overrule the alterations. Usually. As long as the basics are maintained, I am okay.

I’ll note my favorites in a minute. First, the ONE book adaptation that I absolutely HATE HATE HATE: The Bourne movies. *gag, retch* Here is a quote from Tony Gilroy, who wrote the screenplays for the movie franchise, referring to The Bourne Identity“Anything that’s from the book is in the first five minutes, in which Bourne, inexplicably, has got microfilm in his ass. Why? I don’t know! After that, when he steps off the boat, everything else is mine.”

And that is the reason I hate the movies. They are NOT Robert Ludlum’s Jason Bourne in any way other than the name, so what right does Gilroy or the film’s producers have to call it such? Yes, I am ranting, but it P’s me off big time because the novels by Ludlum are FANTASTIC! I have read them over and over, starting back in 1980 when The Bourne Identity was published. I love all of Ludlum’s books, but the Bourne books are in my personal Top Ten list. So, seeing the story and characters butchered is unforgivable. I have watched the first movie several times, trying desperately to enjoy it on its own merits (and I adore Matt Damon as an actor) but I cannot get past how angry it makes me! I will stick with the novels and the REAL Jason Bourne, who was a good guy and true American hero, not a paid assassin as in the movies.

Ludlum Bourne


Oh, and Marie? One of the BEST female characters written– smart, tough, brave, mature, loyal, heroic, and Jason’s devoted soulmate. Why cheapen their relationship and turn her into a whiny, weak loser who gets killed off? It is beyond my comprehension, and amazes me that no one, especially feminists, weren’t up in arms over it! Grrrrr……

Alright, time for me to cool down and share those adaptations I think did a fantastic job over all. Yes, the books are always better, and the adaptations inevitably have some “issues” I could quibble with, but all in all IMHO these movies hit the mark. The biggies, of course, are Lord of the Rings, the Twilight series, the Chronicles of Narnia, the Harry Potter series, and so far The Hunger Games. As for others, rather than lots of commentary, I’ll allow the pictures to speak for themselves.

*NOTE: I am not listing novels that have been adapted numerous times (such as Austen and most classics) or those made into TV serials since that is a different animal entirely.


Finally, a short list of books I loved that ended in films that were okay but missed the mark in several significant ways.
Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
Dune by Frank Herbert
The Host by Stephanie Meyer
City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
The Shining by Stephen King – true of most King adaptations: good movie but messes up the novel
Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean Auel

Indeed I could go on and on with this topic, but a blog must end somewhere! Time for you to share your favorite book to movie adaptations, or those that missed the mark or you hated, or even those you felt improved on the book. And feel free to mention classics with multiple adaptations, noting the version you liked, or TV miniseries as well.



MY giveaway ends on Sunday June 1, at midnight EST. Don’t miss a chance to enter for extra points! I’ll add comments into the draw, but sharing and noting it on the Rafflecopter form increases the odds of winning!

**Winners will be announced next Tuesday, along with the quiz answers.

34 Comments for Armchair BEA Day#5 – Book to Movie Adaptations

  1. Here’s my answers; and don’t laugh….I swear I didn’t cheat! lol

    A = 9
    B = 11
    C = 7
    D = 1
    E = 4
    F = 12
    G = 2
    H = 6
    I = 5
    J = 3
    K = 10
    L = 8

  2. Some books I’d love to see get decent film adaptations (or preferably TV series, due to the time contraints in adapting books to film) are the novels of John Wyndham. The Day of the Triffids had one,(very poor) film adaptation in the early 60s and a couple of TV adaptations here (1981 & 2012). The Midwich Cuckoos has had two or three adaptations (Village of the Damned, twice, and Children of the Damned), none of which have been terribly satisfactory.

    I’d love to see decent versions of these, plus The Kraken Wakes (my second favourite after Triffids), the Chrysalids and The Trouble with Lichen. Obviously they’d have to be updated for a modern audience if they were set in the present day but I guess they could be made as period drama and set at the time they were written i.e. the 50s.

    Seems odd to think that time could now be referred to as period drama but it is 60 years ago. In the 60s, dramas about the Victorians 60 years earlier were always regarded as period drama but I guess that’s a whole different debate!

  3. Okay, so just finished taking the quiz…

    A=9, B=11, C=7, D=1, E=4, F=12, G=2, H=6, I=10, J=3, K=5, L=8

    …and oh my goodness, I had to pair Die Hard last because I had no idea it was an adaptation! Die hard is literally one of my top two favorite movies (it’s tied with Pride & Pride and Prejudice, lol). How could I have not known this?!?!

    Thank you for expanding my horizons! ^_^

    • Hey, don’t feel bad about Die Hard. I didn’t know it came from a series of books either. And in our family Die Hard is our traditional Christmas Eve movie — “Ho, Ho, Ho. Now I have a machine gun!” — and has been for years. You learn something new every day, right? LOL!

  4. Absolutely fantastic post; thank you for sharing! Regarding adaptations, methinks the Lord of the Rings films were examples of great film adaptation that stays faithful to the spirit of the source material while acknowledging the conventions and necessities of producing for film. Peter Jackson’s filming extra material and cutting comprehensive director’s cuts? Brilliant!

    Same with Jurrasic Park. Captured the spirit of the book, but really stood on its own as a mesmerizing movie. You almost have to experience both book and film now in order to really get the full vision realized.

    What are your thoughts about sci-fi adaptations? Many of the big sci fi film adaptations are based on older works. Because of that, the film versions often take many liberties in “modernizing” the tale. (Philip K. Dick is a frequent source. Films like Minority Report; Blade Runner; Total Recall; The Adjustment Bureau; Paycheck)

    • Hi Alisha! Thanks for the comments.

      Indeed it is a greater challenge, I imagine, with sci-fi since what seemed futuristic just ten years ago is now the norm. A book written forty years ago, or more, is pathetically outdated in what we now know is possible. Same with watching sci-fi movies from the 50 or 60s!

      All the movies you mentioned are ones I really liked, but I haven’t read any of the books. Blade Runner, for instance, is getting old in movie years, yet still holds up and I suspect always will. It is the genius of the filmmakers in those cases to capture an essence to the story that isn’t completely dependent upon the science portion. The techno stuff is the dressing, not the story.

      To use my Bourne rant as an example, I knew going into the theater that first time that technical updates would need to be made. Some of the tricks Jason used were based on 1980 technology, before cell phones or computers for instance. Yet whether he used a cell phone or a pay phone did not matter, not would it have mattered if they created a different bad guy (Carlos the Jackal having been captured in 1994), as long as they kept the STORY and CHARACTERS intact. I believe it is the same for sci-fi. I will never watch Star Wars and not love every second of it. I may see the cracks in the pre-CGI filming or the poor sound effects or low budget costumes, yet it will never bother me because the story and characters are timeless. When an older book gets made into a movie one should anticipate modernizing, and even going beyond what is currently possible in the real scientific realm. I would presume that a serious filmmaker would then take it the next step and do his/her best to make a movie that will hold up thirty or forty years down the line.

      Great question! Thanks 🙂

  5. I love book to movie adaptations and am actually hosting a book to movie challenge. Finding out movies I love are based on books (I had no idea about Die Hard!), is one of my favorite things about seeing everyone’s reviews for the challenge 🙂

  6. I am not a big movie watcher although I agree with you about Chronicles of Narnia and Hint for Red October. One book I read ,duMaurier’s Rebecca, I saw as a TV movie starring Jeremy Brett…thought that was well done & it didn’t disappoint. Also agree with the Lord of the Rings.

    I did not fill out the quiz because I couldn’t figure out any answers..sorry. I angsted all day over how to respond as this topic, for me, is extraordinarily difficult.

    Have a wonderful weekend.

    • Just thought of another good one….Timeline by Michael Crichton starring Gerard Butler.

      • Oh yeah, Timeline was a really good movie! Of course, its Gerry Butler, so ’nuff said. LOL! Oddly, that is one Crichton book I haven’t read, so can’t comment on the adaptation. Nice to know they kept to the heart of it.

        Thanks for the comments, Deborah.

        • Speaking of Gerald Butler…2004 Phantom of the Opera as well. Of course it follows the Webber musical…. But a decent adaptation of the book

  7. Dune…shrug, such a great series of books that just didn’t transfer to the big screen. I often wonder now with superior special effects, if Dune could be remade. Here’s a little trivia: When the first Alien film was being made, the guys that made the model of the Nostromo commercial mining vessel went to work on Dune. So say 1976. Don’t you think now it would be so much better?

    The Host…another one. I love Stephanie Meyer but that movie blew chunks. I also was extremely hard to watch. I couldn’t tell which one of the girls was talking and it gave me a headache. The technique on paper is probably way better.

    Thanks for sharing, because I love movies.

  8. Quiz: A-9, B-11, C-7, D-1, E-4, F-12, G-2, H-6, I-10, J-3, K-5, L-8; A Christmas Story was my major block. Never read it or watched it!

    The Body is definitely one of my favorites. Speaking of King, The Mist is pretty darn good, if even more depressing than the original story. Me being me, I have to mention The Prestige (based on the book of the same name by Christopher Priest) and The Illusionist (based on Steven Milhauser’s story “Eisenheim the Illusionist”). In the later case, only the skeleton of what became the movie is in the story, but the feeling and details are translated so well. I’ve enjoyed the Bourne films (I’ve read some Ludlum, but not the Bourne books), but Gilroy’s comment seems to imply that he doesn’t have a lot of respect for the source material, which is disappointing. It’s pretty much the opposite of something like The Illusionist. Neil Burger seems to have really liked the story that he sort of reinvented for film.

    • That is SO interesting, Katherine. I love both the Illusionist and The Prestige, and didn’t know either was based on a book. Adapting to the screen can be very difficult, which is why I am generally quite tolerant. Reinventing a story to fit film can be done without compromising entirely. And of course it is one thing to make a movie inspired by a book, and another thing to actually use the author’s name in the title and promo — as they have with the Bourne movies.

  9. Okay, I think I got them, although Blade Runner and Die Hard gave me some trouble:
    1D 2G 3J 4E 5K 6H 7C 8L 9A 10I 11B 12F

    • Well done! Those two were a surprise to me, hence adding them to the list. Two big favorites of mine, and I had no idea they were inspired by literature.

  10. I won’t even attempt the quiz. I’m a reader (vs. a watcher) and the amount of movies I’ve watched is truly minimal, I’m one of those people who rarely watches what I’ve read because I get so frustrated. LOL I’ve seen and read Hunt for Red October and love both. I agree with you on Chronicles of Narnia, but I’ve been unwilling to see LOTR because I didn’t want to get frustrated. On your advice, I may cave.

    • Stephanie, you MUST watch the LOTR movies!!! OMG! SO SO fantastic! Mind you, I am a HUGE Tolkien fanatic and have been since I was 12. I’ve read the books countless times, as well as the Silmarillion and the various lost tales. So I was very, very apprehensive about the movies. But, reading of the devotion Peter Jackson and his crew put into the making eased my mind. They truly are amazingly done. Every last character is cast exquisitely. The “issues” are so minor compared to everything that is so perfect. Just seeing the Balrog in all its glory is worth everything! And you WILL cry when Boromir dies, which never affected me in the books. Gosh, just thinking of it makes me want to watch them right now….and you really don’t want to know how many times I have seen them!

      Take the plunge, and let me know what you think!!

    • I haven’t read everything written my Michael Critchen, but many of them, and all are fabulous reads. Jurassic Park and The Lost World are terrific. The Lost World movie strayed quite a bit from the book (but I still loved it, mainly because I adore Jeff Goldblum). Jurassic Park was truer to the book, and so very well done.

      It is a fun topic to be sure!

  11. Hi again, Sharon!

    You know, I had NO idea that the Bourne adaptations were such a mess! I actually quite enjoyed the first three films as thrillers (haven’t seen the fourth) but I hated that they killed off Marie. I haven’t read the novels, or any other Robert Ludlum for that matter, I have to confess, but from what you and Joy have both said, I now have more books to add to my TBR list. I do like a good thriller/action novel.

    Of the films you’ve mentioned in the picture list, I agree with you on all the ones I’ve seen, which is about half. I thought Alec Baldwin was the best of all the actor’s who’ve played Jack Ryan. Haven’t seen Ender’s Game yet but will do soon as our son keeps promising to lend us his DVD. It’s one of my favourite sci-fi novels. i first read it many years ago when it was still a short story/novella, before it was expanded into the novel it is now. I also have it as an audiobook. We have several versions of Dune and it is very much, IMHO, a flawed masterpiece. I remember hearing/reading somewhere, years ago, that the original cut of the David Lynch film ran to five or six hours. Would love to see THAT version!

    I won’t enter your quiz, as I’ve only seen half of the films in the list, but I DO recognise the ones I’ve seen.

    Have a good weekend!

    • Just realised I’ve used an inappropriate apostrophe above. It should be actors not actor’s. I’m a bit OCD about apostrophes, I’m afraid!

    • Anji, I have watched The Bourne Identity at least four times, trying very hard to see past my prejudices to evaluate the movie itself. Clearly I am unable to do that completely, but I can be honest and admit that the movie isn’t bad. If they had titled it differently, named the character Bob Smith, and made no reference to Ludlum, I would have enjoyed it well enough. Still, even with that, I personally think there are many other action/spy movies that are better. Any of the Mission:Impossible movies, for example.

      Like your son, Ender’s Game is my favorite sci-fi novel. Another I have read over and over. I was THRILLED at the idea of a movie version and waited with bated breathe for months. The movie was very well done and scored a number of points along the way. It just missed the impact of the themes, especially the ending and full understanding of Ender’s personality.

      If you are a Dune fan I hope you have watched the miniseries. That is an excellent version. Sure, the Dune world is far too complex to grasp everything, but the series is really great.

      • I should add that the Dune version by David Lynch is an enjoyable movie. There are a number of aspects I really like about it, most notably Sting as Feyd Rautha! Yummy!!

        • Ah yes, Sting! Don’t forget, as well, the pre-Star Trek and X-Men Patrick Stewart as Gurney Halleck.

          The TV series is one of the versions we’ve seen, but don’t actually own, on DVD. We do have the sequel though, (it was in a bargain section at the supermarket recently). Our version is called Dune Apocalypse but I believe it was also known as Children of Dune and quite a few roles were re-cast for it. It also features a young James MacAvoy as Paul Atreides’ son, Leto.

          I just read this about Mr. MacAvoy on Imdb; “Joe Wright considered him for a role in his Pride & Prejudice (2005). Both director and actor refused to name the part. Interesting!

          • Oh yes, my daughter is nutso over James McAvoy and would watch the Dune series at least once a week. We would have pretend arguments over who was hotter, James or Matthew Macfadyen. LOL! I never heard that McAvoy was up for a P&P 2005 role. Interesting. Perhaps Wickham?

  12. Out of all the movies in your quiz, I’ve only seen Die Hard, so I mostly just used what I’ve heard about the films to match the books. I hope I got these right!
    A-9, B-11, C-7, D-1, E-4, F-12, G-2, H-6, I-10, J-3, K-5, L-8

    I love book to movie adaptations – especially when I loved the book, it’s great to see it realized on screen. Sure sometimes it is a complete disappointment, but when it’s good, it’s really nice to have a visual of a fave book. My favorite is a classic – Jane Eyre with my two favorite versions being the recent 2011 film, and the 1973 miniseries. They do adapt a lot of classics though! I often think that some Austen adaptations improve on the book – mostly because the story can get more emotional in a film, while the books are so dry and witty. I don’t think of myself as a big Austen fan, but some of her adaptations I really loved!

    • Hi Charlene! You did great on the quiz… phenomenal for someone who has only seen one of the movies. 🙂

      I am a huge Austen fan, yet I completely agree with you. I am a visual, and passionate person, so as much as I do love period dramas, many of then are stilted and dry, as you say. Some will throw tomatoes–that is nothing new for me–but this is why I prefer the 2005 Pride & Prejudice over the miniseries. I liked the recent Jane Eyre for the same reason. Michael Fassbender is terrific and played a wonderful Mr. Rochester. My favorite version, however, is the 2006 miniseries with Tobey Stephens. Love it! But I haven’t seen the 1973 one so I may change my mind! Thanks for the mention of it 🙂

  13. I loved Rascal by Sterling North – the book and the movie. Also, The Biscuit Eater, So Dear to My Heart, PolIyanna, and Mary Poppins (because of the music – loved Saving Mr. Banks too) It appears that the movie industry tends to translate kids books into movies with a little more integrity than books written for adults. Wonder why?

    I am not much of a movie watcher so I’ll pass on this quiz. However, Both my husband and I feel exactly the same about the Bourne books vs. the movie. It makes me sad to watch them – so I don’t.

    Thank you so much, Sharon. This ArmchairBEA has been fun. The time zone difference that made it a challenge this morning for the Twitter party now makes it easier for me to comment on tomorrow’s post at a reasonable hour here on the west coast. Enjoy your Friday.

    • You’ve given me some new titles to look up, Joy. Both the movies and the books. Pollyanna is one of my favorites, both mediums, and is an attitude I personally hold dear, that being to look on the bright side and be positive. Interesting note on children’s books. The simple explanation might be that they are, in general, shorter and less intense with loads of dramatic plot lines. Probably more to it then that though. LOL!

      Glad to know I am not the only Bourne movie hater. 🙂 It is interesting that when I was searching a bit to write this post on my disgust with the movies, I found far too many reviewers and the like seeming to have no problem with the “adaptation” — using the term VERY loosely. A couple even had the gall to say it was an improvement over the book, which I think is downright heretical! Thankfully there were many who feel as I do about it. A couple quotes I wanted to share, in fact, but they were, shall we say, a bit too colorful for a PG blog. LOL!

      You have a great weekend, Joy 🙂

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