Life of….why o why!?

lifeofpiThe other day my film-bonkers work colleague tells me he’s going to see Ang Lee’s Life of Pi at his local multiplex. Drat. I’d very nearly managed to obliterate all knowledge of its existence from my mind. Similarly, a few weeks before Christmas whilst quietly minding my own business, I almost came a cropper crossing the road as I see Keira Knightly’s face come into view on the side of a passing bus, the words ‘Anna Karenina’ plastered by her side… gutted.

I’m not averse to film adaptations of books. Indeed, Lee’s adaptation of Yann Martel’s bestselling novel is probably a feast for the senses and I can’t really pass judgement until I remortgage my house for the cinema ticket. Best of all, the success of the film should surely mean a resurgence in popularity for the much-loved book? Excellent.  That aside, I can’t help but feel like any of my best-loved books, be they classics or otherwise, are going to escape the poking, prodding and mangling around by production companies desperate to make a bit of moolah. Although Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy promises to be quite spectacular, how does one, fair-sized children’s book translate into three feature-length films? Cash-in much Pete?

It’s a rare day that I tootle around the web searching for my favourite books without eitherFILM Anna Karenina stumbling across the IMDb site or some dodgy Youtube telly clip first. Can no one come up with their own ideas anymore? As a smug bookworm I would say not. That the world’s greatest stories and ideas naturally come to us through great literature and that people in other industries draw inspiration from them is no surprise… I just can’t help but feel slightly violated by it all.

That said (and three hobbit films aside) I’ve discovered some great stories through lazy television watching and have been musing lately over the good, the bad and the ones I simply can’t bring myself to watch! (Please feel free to recommend!)…


crimson_1868446cThe Crimson Petal and the White  (BBC mini-series, 2011) Romola Garai’s performance in this series was completely provocative and captivating. I was ashamed I’d never heard of the 800 + page romp of a novel and its accomplished author, Michael Faber.

SingleMan43A Single Man (2009 film, directed by Tom Ford) A devastating, sublime portrait of grief and a world-class performance by Colin Firth. A rare moment when a film is just as good as the wonderful book that inspired it.

Book vs film

1300634418South Riding  (BBC mini-series, 2011) The trailer for the TV adaptation intrigued, as did the countless blog reviews for Winifred Holtby’s rediscovered masterwork. The TV series was a good adaptation but the book was a bit of a slog. Perfectly evocative of the Yorkshire landscape but just too many characters for me to become invested in.

remainsofthedayThe Remains of the Day (1993 film, directed by James Ivory) I read Ishiguro’s wildly lauded novel during a very difficult time in my life and it really hit the spot. English country butler Stevens’ story pulls at the heartstrings and Anthony Hopkins’ interpretation is pitch-perfect.

To watch or not to watch?


The Woman in Black (2012 film, directed by James Watkins) Susan Hill’s ghost story absolutely petrified me. Although I’m sure the recent film adaptation starring Daniel Radcliffe is equally as terrifying, it strikes me as all a bit ‘Hollywood’ for my liking. And – isn’t the ending completely DIFFERENT to the book!? *shudder*

film The Green MileThe Green Mile (1999 film, directed by Frank Darabont) I seem to be the only person in the whole wide world who hasn’t seen Darabont’s harrowing depiction of Stephen King’s serial novel. I read it last year and it brought a tear to my eye…not sure I can hack the film…..

What films/TV series have you stumbled across that are worth having a look at? I’m in danger of being a bit book-snobby about it all at times……one of my goals of 2013 might be to re-address the balance….

13 thoughts on “Life of….why o why!?

  1. Cold Mountain, loved the book so much and then I also loved the film, it captures it very well, the characters and the atmosphere of the story. Have heard good things about life of Pi and it is such a long time since I read the book and my memory of it is hazy so I will probably risk it.


    1. Let me know how it goes, you never know, I might join the band and go and see it! Never seen Cold Mountain and, I am huuuuggeeely embarrassed to say, never even heard there was a book :-O I endeavour to fix that immediately!


  2. I cannot think of a single case where I have preferred a movie/TV show to the book that it was based on. However, I can think of a few movies and TV shows that I love that are based on books that I have not read such as “The Wizard of Oz”, “Rear Window”, “The Shawshank Redemption” and “MASH”. Though in the case of MASH, I think the later series (which I prefer) did apparently diverge away from the book. It does make me curious to read those books though.


  3. The Green Mile the movie was really good. I haven’t read any Stephen King yet and am actually considering reading either it or Shawshenk Redemption just because I loved both movies.


    1. Oh but Olga, I can’t watch it because I’ll crrrry. And I never cry! I feel like I probably need to read some more Stephen King……The Shining is excellent. I’m sure you’ve heard good things about it yourself…


  4. Agree with you on Remains of the Day. Woman in Black was a dud book for me but the stage production was superb. The film was ok nothing more. One adaptation combination to try is Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh but make sure to watch the tv adaptation not the film.


    1. Oo, I’ve never seen the adaptation of Brideshead Revisted, never even heard of it in fact. I’ll be sure to look out for it thanks for the recommendation! I’ve heard nothing but positive things about the stage production of the Woman in Black – was desperate to send my Mum down to London for it for Christmas but may need to save some pennies for that!


  5. I’m planning on reading Les Miserables this year even though I may end up seeing the film first, but I am sure the book is going to be far better, so many, many readers say so – even when they have loved the film.

    I read ‘Ethan Frome’ for the first time last year and I would like to see the film, I think I have more of a list of “wish to see” than “have seen”, perhaps because like you, I don’t want to be disappointed, but I loved Life of Pi, the book and the film. And I hope it wins the Best Picture award!


    1. Ooo Claire – is it worth going to see then? At least I’ve read the book so it won’t ruin it for me. I have seen Les Mis at the West End and have had the book waiting on my shelves for yonks- I wasn’t going to bother with the film but my brother tells me it’s spectacular so might just wriggle on down!


      1. I haven’t seen it yet either, but I have read enough reviews by lovers of the book to go and see it, they do point out it’s weaknesses, but on balance it seems like its one not to miss – and there’s always Hugh Jackman to gaze at 🙂


  6. I am always complaining about the price of cinema tickets, so this blog post really made me laugh out loud! I’m lucky to have a smaller cinema that is much cheaper than the big 3D, IMAX, multiplex cinema we have in Nottingham. It plays a lot of foreign films too and doesn’t have sticky floors and shouting children!
    I don’t mind adaptations, but when it comes to my favourite books (like The Hobbit), I have to try and keep the film separate from the book. If I compared the film of The Hobbit to the book, I would probably be ranting about it, but because I have kept them separate, I quite enjoyed it!


    1. We have the Cornerhouse in Manchester that’s a bit like that and is veeerrrry charming Doesn’t often have the big films on though! I’m trying not to be so skeptical. The Hobbit does look intriguing..would like to revisit the book again though


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