Cynical moviegoers are always saying, “The book was better than the film version.” That’s often because a book can go into so much more detail, or share internal thoughts, or dazzle you with the beauty of words.
But not always so.
Here are 10 films that members of BookRiot.com — book lovers all — found to be better than the book on which they were based.
10) “I Am Legend” (director. Francis Lawrence) adapted from “i am legend” by Richard Matheson — “I watched the Will Smith movie and, knowing this story was in my wheelhouse, decided I wanted to read the book immediately. I ordered the book that night, started it as soon as I received it … and then shortly thereafter stopped reading it … it remains the only book I’ve ever returned.” — Elizabeth Allen
9) “Forrest Gump” (director Robert Zemeckis) adapted from “Forrest Gump” by Winston Groom — “The movie has its problems, but whatever you may feel about the film and its representations of sexuality, disability and race, we can be thankful that it is still a massive improvement on the book. ... It is just one of those situations where sometimes a mediocre book, in the right hands, makes a much better film.” — Laura Diaz de Arce
8) “The Remains of the Day” (director James Ivory) adapted from “The Remains of the Day” by Kazuo Ishiguro — “The book is a solid work of literary fiction by a Nobel laureate. Of course, it’s good. Great, even. But it’s also pretty cold. … The book seemed more like an exercise in creating a difficult character, but the movie is a haunting story about people living through a difficult situation.” — Teresa Preston
7) “The Lord of the Rings” (director Peter Jackson) adapted from “The Lord of the Rings” by J.R.R. Tolkien — “A lot of the stories I prefer as movies rather than books tend to be because I found the book too slow. As is the case for me and LOTR. … Because of time, movies necessarily tighten up stories.” — Aimee Miles
6) “The Princess Bride” (director Rob Reiner) adapted from “The Princess Bride” by William Goldman — “In a rare twist of events for me, I saw the movie ‘The Princess Bride’ well before I knew it was based on a book, let alone before I read it. When I finally picked up the novel, I was so incredibly disappointed. Where was my colorful cast of characters? Where was my exciting and quirky plot line? Where was the humor?” — Abby Hargreaves
5) “The English Patient” (director Anthony Minghella) adapted from “The English Patient” by Michael Ondaatje — “When I was in high school, this was one of my favorite movies. Gorgeous cinematography, sweeping love stories set against the backdrop of war, Colin Firth, Naveen Andrews and his lovely locks … what’s not to like? I started the book expecting to be blown away but spent most of it really bored.” — Tasha Brandstatter
4) “Julie & Julia” (director Nancy Meyers) adapted from “Julie & Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen” by Julie Powell — “OK, so Julie Powell had a great concept and a great blog, but let’s be honest. Her memoir just … isn’t that great. She has a bit of a tone problem; she comes off snarky, cynical and a little narcissistic. But lucky us! This less-than-lovable memoir led to a wonderful movie, featuring goddesses Meryl Streep and Amy Adams!” — Susie Dumond
3) “Jaws” (director Steven Spielberg) adapted from “Jaws” by Peter Benchley — “Honestly, I didn’t know that ‘Jaws’ was a book until I’d spent nearly a decade of my life traumatized by it. Growing up on the Gulf Coast of Florida, the idea of a horrible, man-eating beast lurking just beyond the dropoff was something that my young mind could easily latch onto. Spielberg’s direction elevated what is a perfectly good novel into a taught, tense, “watch most of the movie from between your fingers” affair.” — Anthony Karcz
2) “The Color Purple” (director Steven Spielberg) adapted from “The Color Purple” by Alice Walker — “I can honestly say that the only reason I believe the movie version of ‘The Color Purple’ is better than the book is because the movie was a staple in my household before I came across the book. Thanks to the movie, Sofia will always be Oprah Winfrey, Celie will always be Whoopi Goldberg, and Mister will always be Danny Glover.” — Katisha Smith
1) “Fight Club” (director David Fincher) adapted from “Fight Club” by Chuck Palahniuk — “The book is a shell of what the movie adaptation is, and if you saw the movie first, like I did, going back to read the book afterwards will add nothing to your experience.” — Emily Martin
Now, I expect you to disagree with some of these picks. Tolkien lovers may be conflicted, enthralled by Peter Jackson’s trilogy, but loyal to the Master. And I know people who were never a fan of “The English Patient,” book or movie. And where is “The Godfather” on this list?
Feel free to disagree with this, bibliophiles. Or add your own movies to the list.