When a good book is made into a feature film, it automatically creates high expectations. Those who enjoyed reading the book will have even bigger expectations. Here are two books that were made into movies. One was successful and the other was a complete disaster.
Good Book, Good Film
Slumdog Millionaire directed by Danny Boyle was one of my favorite movies. The 2008 British drama is based on the novel Q & A by Vikas Swarup.
The film tells the story of a young man from the Juhu slums of Mumbai. He appears on the Indian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? He happens to do very well on the show, and his success causes suspicions of cheating. When taken in for questioning, he tells us a flashback story of how he knows the answer to each question. Each question was linked to a key event in his life.
Slumdog Millionaire quickly became a sleeper hit, and it was praised for its plot and soundtrack. It went on to win eight academy awards in 2009, which was the most for any film released in 2008. Some of those academy awards even included winning Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay. Furthermore, it won seven BAFTA Awards (Best Film), five Critics’ Choice Awards, and four Golden Globes.
Danny Boyle did a great job of following the original story in Q & A.
Good Book, Bad Film
Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift was recently made into a feature film, and like many others, I also had huge expectations for this film. Let me start off by saying that this movie was destined for failure with Jack Black as the lead actor.
In this film adaptation, Gulliver saves Princess Mary’s father from a fire by urinating on it.
By casting Jack Black as Lemuel Gulliver, the movie instantly became more of a low grade comedy.
The actual story was a classic of English literature. It displayed both a satire on human nature and a parody of the traveler’s tales. But this movie ended up being a misguided interpretation of a classic story with terrible special effects.
The director of this film turned a universally read novel into a modernized crass version of Gulliver’s adventures in Lilliput. The movie seemed like it relied heavily on Jack Black’s juvenile humor. It was truly dreadful and sleep inducing. Black did such a bad job at acting as Gulliver; that he was even nominated for a Golden Raspberry Award as Worst Actor.
What can we learn from this?
A good adaptation requires a good cast and a good screenplay. If you’re going to turn a book into a film, make sure you stick to the story. The book is successful for a reason.