As a reader and as a writer, I’m supposed to say the book is always better. But that’s not always true, is it?
Even Chuck Palaniuk has said that David Fincher’s film version of Fight Club (adapted by Jim Uhls) is superior to the novel, and many will argue that the same is true of Jonathan Demme’s version of Thomas Harris’s novel The Silence of the Lambs.
Sometimes a film is better in some ways than the novel; I’m thinking particularly of Anthony Minghella’s The English Patient, which introduces a visual mystery not possible in Michael Ondaatje’s novel. You could make a similar case for Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, although expect some heavy fire from J.R.R. Tolkien purists if you do.
Much as I admire Elmore Leonard’s fiction, I think the writers of Justified have exceeded his achievement with the expansion of his story “Fire in the Hole” into the TV series. Of course, they’ve done that in large part by consulting with Leonard and remaining as true as possible to his sensibility and style.
What other films and television shows exceed their literary origins in part or in whole? What are some ways in which the adaptation has fallen short of the original, and what would you have done to avoid that pitfall?