The majority of our favorite movies are based on books. There have been many instances where book to movie adaptations have been bad and if you read the books you’ll know which movies I’m talking about. We do occasionally get the wonder when a book to movie adaptation does a wonderful job sticking to the book when it becomes a movie, and that’s usually when the author is involved with the writing and filming of the movie. What we don’t often see and what we definitely don’t discuss as much is when a book to movie adaptation strays from the book content but in a surprisingly good way. It’s a rarity and we definitely see more film versions of books when they stray, but there are actually some movies that stray from their book counterparts in a way that works. This is a list of those movies – here are 8 movies where the movies strayed from the books they were about but in a way that made the movie better.
1. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
Even though Roald Dahl didn’t like the movie version of this book, that doesn’t mean that people all over the world didn’t. While this book to movie adaptation is really far off from the original words that graced the Dahl pages, the movie turned some of the harsher and scarier things in the book into a charismatic and enjoyable movie fit for people of all ages to watch. The book was a dark cautionary tale about naughty children, a demented candy maker, and his Oompa Loompa who were basically African slaves. When it became a movie, the book turned into a whimsical musical that was fun and less daunting. The major changes were turning Slughorn into a villain and when Charlie and his grandpa drink the fizzy lifting drink and have to burp their way back to the ground. I don’t know about you, but the fizzy lifting drink scene was one of my favorites and it wasn’t even in the book!
2. Forrest Gump
I bet you had no idea that Forrest Gump was a book to movie adaptation – for a long time, I didn’t either. Forrest Gump is a classic movie that many people have seen and love. Because of how good of a movie it is it’s hard to believe that a lot of changes were made when it went from book to movie. The personalities and backgrounds of a lot of the characters are very different. In the book, Forrest is a large man who curses a lot and has crazy mathematical skills and Jenny is his girlfriend who has a happy childhood but does eventually become a hippie. I don’t think I could see the Forrest and Jenny from the movie any different and knowing that these changes to their characters were made actually make me pretty happy. The adventures that Forrest embarks on are also very different in the book to movie adaptation. While you wouldn’t even know that the Forrest Gump movie strays from it’s book counterpart unless you knew it was based on a book, the movie is still one of the greatest films of all time and every part of it is exactly how it should be.
3. Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
This book to movie adaptation is one of the furthest from the original content out there. The only thing that the movie shares with the book is that the detective is solving a mystery that involves Roger Rabbit, Jessica Rabbit, and Baby Herman, but other than that the movie adaptation strays so far from the book that there are only similarities in a few pieces of dialogue. In the book, Roger is a much less sympathetic character and no scenes in the movie are actually from the book – it’s kind of like this book to movie adaptation shouldn’t even be considered that seeing as the movie is its whole new thing. Even though this movie and it’s book counterpart are not alike at all, the movie is still one that is enjoyed by people everywhere. it is also a classic and one that you wouldn’t even know was based on a book because no one really talks about how it has a book counterpart.
4. The Jungle Book
The changes that were made between book and movie here make sense because it was adapted and created by the Walt Disney fam. While the book that the Jungle Book is based off of is a collection of short stories that show frightening scenes of a boy growing up surrounded by the scary animals in the wilderness, Disney created a family-friendly counterpart full of music, fun, and friendship. The musical numbers are obviously one of the major changes to the story, but in true Disney fashion those are the best parts of the movie. Disney songs just heighten the quality of the movies. Smaller character changes are also made in this book to movie adaptation. In the movie Baloo is funny and kind of lazy whereas in the book he’s wise and the leader. And Kaa is actually one of Mowgli’s friends in the book and not the goofy villain the movie made him out to be. Disney knows how to take some of the darker fairytales and stories and turn them into movies that are loved by people all around the world; it’s just what they do.
5. My Sister’s Keeper
If you’ve read or watched My Sister’s Keeper you’ll know that it is a tearjerker in both versions. The story follows two sisters, Kate and Anna. Kate has leukemia and Anna was primarily conceived so that she could be an organ donor for her older sister. Anna discovers what is happening when she turns 13 and decides to sue her parents because she no longer wants to be prodded and poked against her will. The biggest change in this book to movie adaptation is the ending. While most can argue that when an ending is changed it’s a terrible mistake but in this case, I think it’s beautiful and shows the love that Kate has for her younger sister and her acceptance of her disease. I’ll try not to give too much away but the fates of the two sisters are switched between book and movie and while each ending is great and will leave you crying, the ending in the movie is just so real and moving that I’d categorize it as one of the best sad movie endings.
6. I Am Legend
The only similarity in this book to movie adaptation is the name really. In the movie, Will Smith’s Dr. Neville is seen as a hero who sacrifices himself in order to provide a cure for the world that has been taken over by crazy, fast, and bald zombies. The book paints a completely different picture of Dr. Neville. There he’s killing vampires and later on in the book he is seen as a monster to the creatures that now are the dominant race and he is executed for his crimes. We all love a good hero story and we especially like when a hero becomes a hero because he sacrifices himself and dies at the end. This is why I think the Will Smith book to movie adaptation of this film is actually good even though it strays pretty far from the original text. Plus the scenes are really terrifying in the movie at times which I think is fantastic for a sci-fi zombie apocalypse movie.
7. Fight Club
This book to film adaptation I wouldn’t say strayed too far per se, but the movie did have much more detail and drama that just heightened and made the film version of the book really, really good. Normally, the book version of a movie would include more detail and storytelling but this isn’t the case for Fight Club. Some of the scenes are more intense and public rather than private like they are in the book. The ending is also very different again in this one, but once again a very good different. At the end of the film we see Marla and the Narrator watching their impressive display of explosions, but the book ending isn’t as cheery and hopeful. The Narrator is in a mental hospital and still waiting for the return of his good friend Tyler. Not the positive ending the movie would rather have you believe.
We can argue whether or not Jaws is a good movie, but when you take a look at it’s book counterpart you might agree that the movie was better because of some of the changes it made. The book to movie adaptation of this one instilled a fear of water in all of us that might not have come about had we only read the book. The personality of Quint was a big change and it was a change for the better. In the book, Quint is a drier version of Captain Ahab but in the movie he becomes an ocean legend. While we get that crazy mechanical shark throughout the film, we can ignore how crazy it looks because whether you like it or not, Jaws is actually a pretty good film.