Ever wondered how boring the Hollywood film industry would have been without the many novels they’ve been based upon? There’s no denying that books make up for some of the best film scripts we’ve seen so far. We all love the let’s-read-and-leave-it-to-our-imagination idea but you have to admit that visuals end up doing a much better job.
Here are 30 movies that have surpassed our imagination to become the biggest hits we’ve ever seen. They’ve done justice to the books and inspired many more.
1. The Godfather (1972)
The book was great, no doubt. But come on, could you have pictured the characters as closely as seen in the film? Also, the movie’s resolute script, which was made with Mario Puzo’s contribution, simply does away with all the tiny loopholes the book had.
2. Jaws (1975)
Peter Benchley’s novel was a big hit. It remained a bestseller for weeks. However, the plot of the film was slightly better. The book had way too many romantic subplots that the movie happily paid less attention to and focused more on the thrill of the film and the man-eating beast. So plus one to the movie.
3. The Shining (1977)
It’s true, Stanley Kubrick and Stephen King had a bit of a squabble on the script of the film as Kubrick’s version changed the ending of the book completely. However, the audience chose Kubrick over King and the book, though hard-hitting, just couldn’t match up.
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4. Die Hard (1988)
A phenomenal movie. Following a phenomenal series. However, none of this would’ve been possible without the many changes Director John McTiernan made towards the end.
5. Fight Club (1999)
This movie is a classic. And so is the book. The chaotic plot of the film along with flashes of the fights, the visual effects and most importantly, the narrator’s picturisation. All add up to one thing: Movie beats the shit out of the book!
6. Shrek (2001)
I wouldn’t say William Steig’s picture book written in the ’90s wasn’t great. But it was too tiny in comparison to all the fun we had while watching the film and the ensuing sequels.
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7. Goodfellas (1990)
Reading about a real-life mobster’s story is one thing. Watching Robert Di Niro as Jimmy Conway and, of course, Martin Scorsese’s direction, also considered one of his best works till date, is definitely a notch above the book.
8. There Will Be Blood (2007)
Daniel Day-Lewis in Thomas Anderson’s Oscar-nominated epic has to be a winner. The movie is considered one of the greatest works of the millennia while the book, which is a brilliant social satire, remains forgotten.
9. L.A. Confidential (1997)
Anything on L.A. without its glam-lights is a complete waste of time. But James Ellroy’s book was so good that we honestly couldn’t have imagined a better picture. Upon the film’s release Ellroy himself declared, “I understood in 40 minutes or so that it is a work of art on its own level. It was amazing to see the physical incarnation of the characters.”
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10. Mean Girls (2004)
Written originally as a self-help book for the teens, it was Tina Fey who turned this non-fiction into a Hollywood hit. Queen bees, high-school romances and love triangles, and a whole lot of gyaan on teen friendship amongst girls (not in a preachy way), Mean Girls gets my vote.
11. Mrs Doubtfire (1993)
Robin Williams. Enough reason to prefer the film over the book. His comic timing and brilliant execution of an old maid’s character adds an extra spunk to the story. A hands-down winner.
12. Forrest Gump (1994)
Most of us had no clue that this Oscar-winning film starring Tom Hanks was based on a book. While the movie was made 8 years later, with a number of changes and more power to Forrest (the character), it still managed to overshadow the book effortlessly.
13. Blade Runner (1982)
A sci-fi novel-turned-movie doing the source book complete justice has to be an epic of a lifetime. Blade Runner fits the bill, exclusively. The visuals of the androids and the digital spectrum that the film follows are so good, we can barely deny it being any lesser than the book.
14. Psycho (1959)
This not-so-popular book saw a pivotal plot change in Alfred Hitchcock’s adaptation where more focus was on the leading lady, Janet Leigh’s, character Marion Crane. It worked in favour of the suspense along with Anthony Perkins’ mind-boggling acting.
15. The Exorcist (1973)
The novel was one hell of a read in terms of its supernatural explanations and horror. But the film, which is also scripted and produced by the author, takes it to another level. In fact, did you know that there is an entire book written on The Exorcist being “the scariest (and greatest) film ever made” by renowned film critique Mark Kermode?
16. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Dr. Hannibal Lecter mixed with Sir Anthony Hopkins. Need I say more? The film and the literature, both are equally chilling but watching Lecter’s disturbing sequences first hand is absolute next level trippy.
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17. Jurassic Park (1993)
If this book was left to our imagination and never turned into a film, we wouldn’t have seen a mind-blowing fourth part this season. And watching dinosaurs on-screen for the first time is another story altogether. Spielberg’s adaptation of this difficult-to-read book is classy indeed.
18. Sense And Sensibility (1995)
So the difference between the book and the film is simple: Jane Austen’s focus in on the Dashwood sister’s love interests while the movie points at the sisters. The film, hence, gives a much better perception of the characters whose lives are the crux of the story.
19. Stand By Me (1986)
Let’s start with the fact that Stephen King himself has declared this to be the closest-to-his-books film so far. Although the film is really old now, back then it was the ultimate coming-of-age flick in town.
20. Adaptation (2002)
Charlie Kaufman’s brain-blogger, this movie is a brilliant piece of satire on the process of adaptation. The book might get a little complicated, but the film makes an epic sense out of it.
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21. To Kill A Mockingbird (1962)
This book is one of the best I’ve ever read. Then I watched the movie. Watching Atticus Finch come to live… unforgettable and mind-blowing!
22. Cape Fear (1991)
The movie’s raw brutality is what makes it a classic of a lifetime. The book may be a tense read but when Scorsese puts on a show, you’ve got to love it.
23. The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy (2001 – 2003)
Don’t pounce on me for this one. The trilogy is a set of genius no doubt, but the films are so good and well-made, and haven’t left out any vital detail that even those of us who are too lazy to focus on the details got hooked to Peter Jackson’s beautifully portrayed set of the visuals.
24. The Notebook (2004)
For all the lovers of over-emotional romantic spins, this one leads the way. Besides, everything Nicholas Sparks writes gets turned into a movie. Translating the romance of the books on to the screen is a task, but The Notebook steals the show nonetheless.
25. The Devil Wears Prada (2006)
Meryl Streep. Class. Fashion. And such devil-clad drama. A better view of the one-dimensional character of Miranda Priestley (as shown in the book), but with a solid amalgamation of great cast, acting and direction; the book clearly lacks it all.
26. The Prestige (2006)
Christopher Priest’s book is one of those you simply cannot put down. But who would have thought that the Nolan brothers would create an even more gripping counterpart to the tale? Jonathan and Christopher Nolan together devised an irresistible screenplay we couldn’t get our eyes away from.
27. Casino Royale (2006)
This Bond movie is probably the one which does adequate justice to the text. Some say it’s an even better improvisation. Martin Campbell rejuvenates the franchise and so, I’d go with the film any day. You choose for yourself.
28. The Mist (2007)
Yet another of Stephen King’s best. The movie, however, turned the book’s optimistic ending around into a terrifying piece of horror tale. Probably that’s the reason we loved it more.
29. The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button (2008)
One of those extraordinary cases where the movie gives life to the book! David Fincher takes the bare minimum from the book and turns it into an epic cinematic experience which is not only unforgettable but also creates a reverberating show we instantly get hooked on to.
30. Les Misérables (2012)
Hate me for this, but the book was a tad bit boring. If not for the movie, I would have never gone back to check on the details! Besides, just look at the cast of the film: Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe and Anne Hathaway! The laurels won by the film are much, much better than the holding-our-attention capacity of the book.