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10 Hollywood movies that were better than the book

I'm usually the first one to say that the book is always better than the movie. Yet while thinking of the converse, I was quite surprised to find that there were so many instances coming to mind where infact, the movie was superior to the book. It felt like a nice topic to discuss with fellow movie-and-book fans.

First up, movies that I felt were at par with the book :  
These are basically a list of movies that did justice to the original book, in my opinion.

Omen                                                   Bladerunner 
A Time to Kill                                     The Godfather 
A walk to remember                              Stand by me
One flew over the Cuckoo's nest               Atonement 
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo              Mystic River 
The Help                                    The English Patient 
Big Fish                                    Catch Me if you Can 
Fight Club                                          Runaway Jury
To kill a Mockingbird                                        Jaws
Primal Fear                                Gone with the Wind

Now that we've seen the runner-ups, let's head onto the main event : 
10 movies that were better than the book.

10. A Beautiful Mind
Credit goes to : Ron Howard ( director ) and Akiva Goldsman ( screenplay )
Frankly, the book is annoying and unengaging. It is depressing, it is harrowing and it delves too deep into jargon that isn't frankly relevant. The movie starring Russell Crowe atleast attempts to put on a hint of mystery, intrigue and more importantly hope to the real life story of delusional schizophrenic John Nash, who would eventually beat the odds and get a Nobel Laureate. 

9. Princess Diaries
Credit goes to : Anne Hatheway, Julie Andrews
So shoot me... I'm still sticking with this choice ! This was such an enjoyable feel-good movie. The story of the nerdy geek girl turning princess is so cliched, yet the two actors added such a life to their roles that it was eventually a runaway success.

Fun fact : A key role in the movie was previously offered to 22 mainstream actresses including *deep breath* Cameron Diaz, Kate Beckinsale, Alyssa Milano, Drew Barrymore, Eva Mendes, Reese Witherspoon, Katie Holmes, Jessica Alba, Jessica Biel, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Alicia Silverstone and Kate Hudson among others. 
It was after they ALL turned the role down that it went to a debutant actress who during auditions, fell out of her chair and was immediately hired for the role of clumsy Mia Thermopolis : yes, Anne Hatheway. That, my friends, is called destiny.

8. Forrest Gump
Credit goes to : Director Robert Zemeckis.
This was, and in my opinion still remains, one of the best example of how simplicity can move your heart. Tom Hanks' role as the perennial do-gooder helping people ( including Elvis ! ) selflessly, while yearning for love is a masterpiece of story-telling and human nature at it's best. So sweet. So innocent. So natural...oh wait. Maybe not. Were you aware that in the Winston Groom novel, he also goes into space and meets an alien monkey ! And a short while later, gets captured by cannibals too ? 
Yeah. That's why the movie's better. Because they knew what to leave out.

7. Jurassic Park
Credit goes to : Those guys who made the dinosaurs look so freaking real 2 decades ago !!
Micheal Crichton can complain all he wants about how he deserves the credit. Doesn't change the fact. Jurassic Park was, back then, the ultimate moment, in special effects and had the audience jumping and screaming. 

Fun Fact : Even though the novel was released only in 1990, pre-production of the film started in 1989 based on just a manuscript. That's called having faith in your story !

6 and 5. Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile
Credit goes to : Stephen King ( novelist ) and Frank Darabont ( director )
No author in history perhaps has as many movie adaptations of his novels as horror writer Stephen King. And yet, it is the tale of friendship between two unlikely people in a prison that till date, adorns so many people's list of "Favourite Movie". There is no violence. No CGI. No women. And yet, this story is so profound and heartwarming that even grown men cry. Stephen King himself was man enough to admit that the movie was better than his book.

For those of you thinking it was a fluke, the two would collaborate 2 more times to further critical acclaim - The Green Mile ( another great human tale of an unusual prisoner awaiting death row... RIP Michael Clarke Duncan ) and The Mist ( a supernatural tale with a very human element to it, which I warn you in advance, has one of the most gut wrenching endings I have ever seen. )

4. Prestige
Credit goes to : director Christopher Nolan
The book about two magicians whose rivalries define not just their career but their lives is no doubt a good read. But the movie is so much more - the direction is spell-binding ( no pun intended ), more emphasis is given to the three stages of an illusion and it's relevance in real-life and the acting is par excellence. For women - well, you have Wolverine vs Batman. What more can you ask for ?

3. Die Hard
Credit goes to : It's the original Die Hard. Just stand up and applaud already. 
New York cop John McClane taking on German terrorists at the Nakatomi Corporation. 'Nuff said. 

Fun Fact : here's what you didn't know. The author of the novel on which the movie was based ( Nothing Lasts Forever ) had a prequel way back in the 60s. That too was made into a movie called The Detective starring none other than Frank Sinatra ! ( In the books, the characters name is Joe Leland though. ) So technically, Bruce Willis isn't the original Die Hard man.

2. The Lord of the Rings series.
Credit goes to : Peter Jackson, the director.
Have you read the novel ? If you have got through the whole thing with it's elves, dwarves, sorcerers and made up languages and then seen the movie(s), then you know that it couldn't possibly have been taken any more beautifully. Peter Jackson, I salute you.

1. The Silence of The Lambs.
Credit goes to : Sir Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster.
Frankly, there are better pyschopath based novels, if you care to search ( think John Conolly, Jeffrey Deaver etc ), but what made the movie iconic was not just Hopkins' chilling portrayal as Dr Hannibal Lecter but the interaction between him and Jodie Foster as she tries to hunt down a killer at large. 

Fun fact : The moths used in the movie were celebrities : They were flown in first class, had their own rooms ( a temperature thing ) and even had special costumes for themselves (the design on their back is based on artist Salvador Dali's photograph 'in voluptate mors' symbolising seven nude women ).

So what did you think of the list - Agree ? Disagree ? Got another movie in mind ? 
I'm all ears.


  1. Agree with most of what you said doc (for the ones where I read the book).. but I have to say I liked Jurasic park better as a book than as a movie.

    1. That one was always 50-50 in my list : I was honestly in two minds whether to leave it in the first list and replace it with Jaws or Stand by Me. Finally took a decision based mainly on the impact of the graphics for that time.

  2. Spot on with most of them. Cant help but agree with TSOTL, Prestige, Green Mile, Shawshank Redemption, Forrest Gump & A Beautiful Mind. Would differ with TLOTR series, since I found it to actually take your imagination to a whole different level. The movies were good but the book was better. Jurassic Park would be on par with the book IMHO.
    Nice topic to pick your brains on a weekend.

    1. Hi Adel.. great to see you here man.
      As you can see, even Sandy shares your opinion on Jurassic Park and as I told him, it was 50-50 for me too while writing this up as to which list it should fall under.
      As for TLOTR, oh man !! :) I have to say, I would never have finished the book had I not seen the movies... I agree with the level of imagination and creativity, but it was so easy to get tired while reading that book and just skip pages at times.
      Anyway, gonna keep putting up more 'Best of' lists in the days to come :D
      Any suggestions on lists you'd like to see would be most welcome.

    2. OK. lets work on it this way.. I think The Hobbit was the best book by Tolken till date. The hobbit movie is coming out... lets see if it demands an update of this list.

    3. Haha.. sure. That too is an ambitious project, though having lived long enough to see a Transformers movie ( I never thought one could be made !! ), ambitious is now a relative term, isn't it ? :)

  3. Havent read Jurassic Park as a book, but even then agree with you about the movie being very realistic. I have bookmarked the rest (not much into English movies).

    1. A lot depends on what kind of English movies you watch as well...what some may call 'dry and boring', others will label 'atmospheric and eerie'

      As for the Jurassic park thingy, what I remember is that before that the movies which showed dinosaurs used clay toy animations... from there to jurassic was a huuuuuge leap forward

  4. 3 goats gruff is a good book, its got pictures in it,
    and sometimes the goat just pops out at you..

    1. waitaminit !! They have 3d books which pop out at you !!! Dear God !! Why have I wasted my life reading novels and watching movies all this time !! *goes and breaks TV set with bookrack*

  5. nice read for a fellow movie buff.
    I know many who find LOTR hard to read coz of the slow pace and its so god dam huge lol

    1. True.. this blog is my break from reality.. meant for movie/books/trivia buffs :)
      And your point on LoTR.. thats exactly what got me.. I agree with its brilliance, but it was just so damn huge !! :D

  6. Fantastic come back post!!!! And agree with most of your list. Except maybe I felt 'The Omen' book was better; and Jurassic Park the movie was definitely better :-)......

    1. I was considering a tossup between Exorcist and Omen for 'book better than movie'.. I feel the Exorcist book was better... in the case of Omen, I somehow felt the movie did justice to the book. But then, thats the beauty of movie lists.. everyone gets to have their say :D

  7. How could you miss star trek? Its a cult movie that EVERYONE has seen or atleast heard about , but how many have even seen the book? I've read them and they are horrible.

    1. a) Star Trek movies are based on the characters of the original 1966 TV show.
      b) None of the books that were written were made into movies so there is no way to compare book-to-movie.
      c) Totally agree... those books are absolutely substandard - written purely to cash in on the successful Tv and Movie franchise. There are similar books for the X-files too.


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