Movies Based on Books

I’m reading this article in the New York Times about Noah Baumbach’s forthcoming film Margot at the Wedding when I see this bit:

Two of his next projects, as it happens, are based on existing texts. He is co-writer of Mr. Anderson’s next film, an animated version of Roald Dahl’s “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” and he has been hired to write an adaptation of “The Emperor’s Children,” Claire Messud’s novel set among the floundering younger generation of New York literati, for Ron Howard to direct.

Excuse me? It’s not the Roald Dahl bit I question–they’re going to continue to make lame movies from his wonderful books for eons. It’s the Claire Messud bit. Directed by Ron Howard? Ugh. I thought the book good, but not as good as the critics claimed. I think that had to do with it coming out in a literary fiction vacuum. But Ron Howard? I’m expecting a mediocre rendition at best.

How crappy does Beowulf look? Maybe it will look better on the big screen?
And not to sound like a snot, but why are they adapting Julie & Julia for a movie? And why is Meryl Streep playing Julia Child? Yes, she is one of the finest actresses working today, but Julia Child? I think Julie Powell’s story worked as a blog, but not as well as a book. I found myself tired by the end. How is Nora Ephron going to work this into some cute love story anyway?

I shouldn’t complain. Several good books are being adapted into what look like great movies: No Country for Old Men (anyone see this yet?), Love in the Time of Cholera, and Atonement (on the fence about this one). Even the previews for The Golden Compass look pretty good. Anything y’all are excited about?

3 thoughts on “Movies Based on Books

  1. Jane

    I had to be dragged in to the theater to see Beowolf — but I was impressed. Like you, I thought the promos looked rather bad. It actually DID look better on a big screen, in 3D (we saw it at the IMAX). The “performances” were good. I thought they captured the spirit of the epic poem, but I will admit that I haven’t read it since high school, and even then I had a hard time with it, so I’m not the most reliable source here.
    Thanks for your entertaining posts!


  2. K.S.R. Kingworth

    I’d have to argue that movies and literature, as two distinct and separate genres, need to be approached from that standpoint–at least, for me to be able to endure a book-turned-movie transformation.

    And so, at this point, once I walk into a movie theatre, I try to separate myself from the book as much as possible. This (usually) allows me to enjoy the movie based on its visual, action-based, or dramatic impact.

    I do have to agree that most movie’s based on Roald Dahl’s books have been just plain miserable to watch. Shame. He’s one of my favorite author’s from childhood.

    I do look forward to The Golden Compass. I’m not sure what all the hype is about regarding the atheistic undercurrent. I don’t think most parents stopped their children from going to see the Harry Potter movies because of witchcraft and magic!

    If anything, The Golden Compass as a movie, might provide a good way for families to discuss theology.

    Thanks for the post, Megan. I just discovered your blog. What took me so long!


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