Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Happy Oscar Nomination Day!

by Chasya

A recent Examiner article links to a note from J.D Salinger elucidating why the author never exploited the valuable film rights to Catcher in the Rye. Among the many reasons, he said: “ for me the weight of the book is in the narrator’s voice…” Thinking that Holden could never be accurately represented onscreen, he opted not to have the book adapted.

After this morning’s Oscar announcements, in which four of the ten nominations for best picture are going to films that were adapted from books, I got to wondering. Of the four, I’ve only seen Up in the Air, a book I would say certainly relies heavily on the narrator’s voice. And that movie was pretty great. It’s often said that films taken from books don’t come close to the greatness of the original. I would have to say I disagree. I think that they’re very different vehicles that serve the same purpose–to tell a story.

No matter how that’s done, so long as it’s done well, there needn’t be this sort of black and white debate. Do film adaptations always trump books? Do books always trump the film adaptation? I don’t think we necessarily need to choose.

What are your thoughts?


  1. 'Babe' -- the book was great and the movie, though very different, captured the essence and was lovely and quirky in its own way. And I think many of the Merchant Ivory movies come close too, but that's about it.

  2. I no longer watch the Oscars since they neglected to even nominate The Dark Knight for best picture/director last year. More to your point, I am biased, but I think books are usually better than the movie as the story was usually intented to be read rather than viewed and the author crafted it with that in mind. But there are exceptions. Almost every Stephen King movie is only a poor attempt to capture the book, with the exception of The Shawshank Redemption, which was a better movie than King's novella. And I liked the movie ending of Watchmen better than the novel's original ending.

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