Thursday, July 12, 2007

Film Adaptations

I confess I didn’t read a book today (I did start one, so I should get some credit for that). Instead, I watched a film adaptation—almost like reading a book, right?

I watched The Best of Masterpiece Theatre a few months ago and immediately put The Fortunes & Misfortunes of Moll Flanders in my queue. I mean, how could I resist a movie with Daniel Craig (even if he does have the nastiest long hair ever and ends up being a cad) and a faux-puritanical Emma Peel, I mean, Diana Rigg?

I admit I have never read the book before. But if the film adaptation is to be believed—and all movies are faithful to the books, right?—the book is all about sex (and, as a warning, the movie does contain nudity). I did read Daniel Defoe’s Roxana as an undergrad. Roxana basically sells her body for money. So, if I remember correctly, that book is also all about sex.

Last weekend, I watched North and South—not the Patrick Swayze North and South but Elizabeth Gaskell’s—for the second time. John Thornton (Richard Armitage) is strong and sometimes brusque but oh so dreamy. I would marry him anytime—even if he is in trade. Once again, I must confess that I have not read the book. But I have read Gaskell’s Wives and Daughters.

To be honest, I read the book after watching the Masterpiece Theatre adaptation. I was enchanted by the story and could not wait to read the original. Of course, it wasn’t until I reached the end—until after I’d invested 720 pages in the book—that I discovered Gaskell died before finishing it. And the Masterpiece Theatre ending is completely, well, fictional.

In fact, watching the film adaptation has inspired me to read several books. I didn’t read Jane Eyre until after watching—and weeping through—the Timothy Dalton version in seventh grade. I caught Looking for Alibrandi on WE before ever reading the Australian young adult classic. And, though I was only two when it premiered, I clearly remember watching Flambards on Masterpiece Theatre.

Though it may be heresy to say so, watching a movie adaptation of a book can sometimes be just as enjoyable as reading the book itself. Think Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Persuasion (can you tell I’m a Janite?), Henry V, The Last of the Mohicans, Bleak House, Horatio Hornblower, The Importance of Being Ernest. (And, forgive me Jane, I will admit I found the movie adaptation of Mansfield Park more entertaining than the book.)

I could go on an on listing movie adaptations I’ve enjoyed (The Bourne Identity, Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, The Princess Bride), but I think I might watch Eloise at the Plaza instead.


Wanna-Be Lit said...

I love it. You'll have to add other excellent film adaptations to your list as you think of them. Four of my favorites: "Anne of Green Gables" (and Avonlea), "A Room With a View," "My Brilliant Career," and "The Joy Luck Club."

Blogger said...

Those are all movies that I love. There are just so many. So, my question is, what movies have you liked better than the book?

Wanna-Be Lit said...

"My Brilliant Career," for sure.