There’s an old adage that says, when it comes to books and their visual adaptations, the book is better than the movie. I would argue that nine times out of ten, this is correct.
But what about that one time?
In my experience, I have come across a couple of instances where the opposite is true: the film is better than the book.
FORREST GUMP – This is mainly due to the changes to the character of Forrest himself. In the book, he swears a lot and displays characteristics of someone with Autism.
He also doesn’t embark on a career in ping-pong in the book, but rather becomes a chess whiz and astronaut. He heads to space with an Orangutan named Sue.
Finally, the anchoring piece of the film, at least to me, is Forrest’s love for Jenny. We all know what happens in the film. In the book, not only does Jenny live, but she takes Forrest’s son and runs away with another man.
SHREK – Unlike Forrest Gump, the changes here make the story more elaborate. Some of the book’s elements found their way to musical version. For example, the book starts with Shrek getting kicked out of his parents’ house. He meets a witch who gives him a fortune that foretells how the book plays out. He meets the Donkey, who takes him to a princess, they recite poetry and marry.
Most of us have seen the film. airytale characters being rounded up and exiled by Lord Farquaad, who is all set to marry Princess Fiona. She is locked away in a castle, and through a series of hilarious misunderstandings, Shrek and Donkey set off to rescue her. There’s a lovesick dragon, a Gingerbread Man, a curse. And in the end, true love wins, and everyone sings.
I do think that Shrek is worth reading, not only for kids, but for the art. The author-illustrator, William Steig, was remarkably prolific. He created over 1700 pieces of art for the New Yorker, for decades, starting in the 1930s.
Do you have any films or TV shows that are better than the books they’re based on? Let me know in the comments below!