Hollywood has always had the habit of making movies inspired by critically acclaimed books. It has, at most of the times been the case that the tiny details that the book so generously holds are left on the big screen. But it can be equally argued that when a movie is made, it adds a whole new element to the story. The point of view and essential visual story-telling that deals with the viewers’ subconscious makes the movie seem better than reading the good old paperback. It is not too common when a movie beats the original text, but when that happens, it’s a movie even the book-lovers would love. Don’t believe us? Here is the list of movies that are way better than the books they are based on.
15. Jaws (1975)
This Steven Spielberg film based on Peter Benchley’s novel of the same name that came out the previous year (1974) is considered one of the greatest films ever made. When Spielberg was reading the novel, he said: “I’d like to do the picture if I could change the first two acts and base the first two acts on original screenplay material, and then be very true to the book for the last third.” Many of the minor deviations from Peter’s text played out perfectly. It is one of the very few movies way better than the book.
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14. Psycho (1960)
Under the direction and production of legendary Alfred Hitchcock, Psycho surpassed the original brilliance of Robert Bloch’s novel that came out the year earlier. The character of Norman Bates in the book is a creepy middle-aged overweight, but in Hitchcock’s adaptation, the casting of Anthony Perkins is quite different that changed the overall look of the movie. The movie fills what lacks in the original text; jump-scares and soundtracks and thrilling moments that made the movie one of the best ever, a must watch.
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13. Jurassic Park (1993)
Spielberg weaves the magic again with the adaptation of Michael Crichton’s novel that came out in 1990. The screenplay was written by Crichton along with David Koepp who made some characterization changes. The movie was made colorful with moments that the viewers could relate to. The dinosaurs were made possible using visual effects which were really new at that time. This certainly was going to be the film that is way better viewed than reading the original novel. Because sometimes, visual is better.
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12. The Notebook (2004)
Nicholas Sparks’ novel of the same name was a best-seller when it came around in the year 1996, but when Hollywood made it into a film and cast Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams in lead roles, it was instantly a hit. The onscreen chemistry between the two has been praised by audiences and critics alike. The film’s background score supports the ongoing drama and makes for a relatable experience, complementing the novel itself.
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11. A Clockwork Orange (1971)
Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of the Anthony Burgess’s 1962 novel of the same name essentially captures Burgess’s bleak vision of the future in this dystopian crime-film, with the slangs kept to a minimum. The movie includes some deviations from the original work that makes the story more subtle. Kubrick lets go of some scenes that get in the way of the story’s theme and narrative. All in all, it has been considered one of the greatest novel adaptations.
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10. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Hannibal’s portrayal by Anthony Hopkins in this Oscar-winning film won him the Academy Award for the Best Actor despite having the minimum screen-time. This film was adapted from Thomas Harris’s 1988 novel of the same name. Hopkins and Jodie Foster have done some of the best performances in their roles that take this adaptation to create its own legacy. The character of Hannibal Lecter in the novel is truly imbibed in how Hopkins portrayed it, and that made the movie stand out from the book.
9. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1974)
Ken Kesey has no doubt written his characters brilliantly in his novel. But Jack Nicholson’s portrayal of McMurphy as the psychiatric patient in the novel’s adapatation of the film by the same name made the charater stand out, and earned him an Academy award. Perhaps it’s the acting that made the movie so fun to watch or the screenplay, but it can be said that the true essence of the story was better visually stated. Nicholson just steals the show when he got into the skin of the character. The movie was only the second in the history of cinema to bag all the major awards in the Academy ceremony, a feat accomplished again only in the year 1991 by ‘The Silence of the Lambs’.
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8. No Country for Old Men (2007)
Based on Cormac McCarthy’s novel of the same name, this cat-and-mouse drama directed by the Coen brothers is a solid take on the novel. The film gathered some brilliant reception at the Academy bagging four awards. Tommy Lee Jones’s acting lifted the film’s level. The film was sincere with the script with some prunes wherever necessary. Peter Travers of Rolling Stone praised the novel adaptation. “Not since Robert Altman merged with the short stories of Raymond Carver in Short Cuts have filmmakers and author fused with such devastating impact as the Coens and McCarthy. Good and evil are tackled with a rigorous fix on the complexity involved.”. The coin-toss scene has been one of the best scenes performed in the cinematic world lately, along with some of the best acting one could see.
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7. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Being regarded the best film ever made (Read IMDb), this inspirational drama surpasses the book that it is based on; Stephen King’s novella. So many of King’s novels have been adapted into successful franchises and this is one of them. Morgan Freeman’s narration along with Tim Robbins as Andy Dufresne prove their mettle as actors and be it the background score or the overall development of the story, the movie gives the viewers such a rich experience that the novel was unable to.
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6. Forrest Gump (1994)
Forrest Gump was based on the 1986 novel of the same name by Winston Groom. Directed by Zemeckis, it features a stellar performance by Tom Hanks as Forrest who is a slow-witted and good-natured kid from Alabama. The character has been brilliantly portrayed by Hanks which won him the Academy Award for Best Actor in the 1994 Academy Awards. The novel itself was not that popular and there were a few disputes regarding the rights of the film’s production initially. It is now considered a classic in American cinema.
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5. The Prestige (2006)
This British-American mystery thriller film boasts a talented cast with Christian Bale, Hugh Jackman, Michael Caine, Scarlett Johannson, and others. This Nolan directed movie is based on Christopher Priest’s novel of the same name that came earlier in 1995. The movie really conveys the message “Are you watching closely?” throughout its runtime and is open-ended to interpretations, like most of Nolan’s works are. This movie is a cinematic magic. It gives you a wonderful mystery, giving you all the clues needed. You’re often misdirected and every time you sit down and watch it, you’d find something new. On the other hand, the novel’s style is quite literal while the movie makes you see the story from different perspective adding to the overall feel of the movie.
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4. Gone Girl (2014)
David Fincher has clearly created a masterpiece out of the Gillian Flynn’s novel that came out a couple years earlier. The movie is a melodramatic-thriller that questions the morality of a person. It surpasses the novel on so many levels. With Fincher’s direction, the performances by Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike and the perfect background score, this movie stands out in the league of classics. The movie has made quite some deviations from the original text, with even the ending different. But again, any crime-thriller is better watched than read.
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3. The Shining (1980)
The Shining is all about Jack Torrance, played by Jack Nicholson who is a maniac writer and struggling alcoholic. Based on Stephen King’s novel, this Kubrick flick has garnered positive reviews from all around, especially praise for Nicholson’s character. The movie has had many deviations from the original script and improvisations are all over but that adds to the beauty of the movie. Overall, both the movie and the novel are praise-worthy but the way Kubrick has kept the background score and certain visual elements, they add to the eery effect to the movie, making it a horror-thriller, keeping you at the edge.
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2. The Godfather (1972)
Mario Puzo’s original novel inspired Francis Coppola, featuring stellar performances from every actor onscreen, making it a cult-classic. While the best-selling novel itself has created a reader-base, almost everyone recognizes the pioneering work of Coppola. Marlon Brando’s scene at the very beginning might perhaps be the best opening scene of all time. The movie sticks to the original script all the time, yet the contrasting difference is the perspectives from which the story’s original theme has been conveyed that speaks to the viewers. It is a must-watch, even for the book-lovers.
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1. Fight Club (1999)
Based on Chuck Palahniuk’s 1996 novel of the same name, Fight Club directed by David Fincher is a psychological thriller featuring Edward Norton and Brad Pitt as the main cast. Norton plays the protagonist who hates his white-collar job and meets Pitt who has a different philosophy about life. Fincher was very excited about making this movie since this movie had the ability to speak with the young generation. The film’s overall dark theme copies the homoerotic overtones from Chuck’s novel to make audiences uncomfortable and keep them from anticipating the ending.
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