6 Classic Books with Misleading Movies
The great thing about watching a movie based on classic literature is that there should be a sense of familiarity that comes with it. If a movie is based on classic literature, you should know ahead of time what the story is. There shouldn’t be many surprises. But this is Hollywood we’re talking about. Sometimes moviemakers want to update the book and end up with a movie that is unrecognizable from the classic novel it was based on.
I’m not complaining that the unrecognizable movies based on classic literature are bad. The problem is that anybody who sees a misleading movie based on classic literature might try reading the book afterward and then have a “What the F…!” moment. If you try reading certain classic novels after seeing a movie that changed everything up, it could keep you from reading more classic novels (not that avoiding certain classic novels is a bad thing).
The following is a (not complete) list of movies that took waaaayyyy too many liberties with the classic novels that they’re based on.
The War of the Worlds
Tom Cruise is not in the novel, and the book is not very exciting by today’s standards. To be fair, no modern film maker is going to set War of the Worlds back in the early 1900’s, but it could be awesome if they did! I might go see it, as long as Tom Cruise isn’t in it. I’ve seen too many movies with Tom Cruise in them.
BEST TRICK EVER (to play on teenagers)!
- Tell kids about the Orson Welles radio program based on The War of the Worlds and explain how a bunch of listeners thought the radio program was real and started panicking.
- Listen to the kids as they make fun of people who panicked (probably calling them “dumb” or stupid”).
- A few minutes later tell the same kids that you just heard Justin Bieber is going out with Katy Perry.
- Watch the kids as they react with disgust, disdain (or whatever probable negative reaction they have).
- Explain to the kids that they just fell for a vicious rumor without verifying it (just as the radio listeners automatically believed what they heard on a radio program).
- Laugh at the kids as they completely miss the connection.
The Frankenstein monster in the novel is far scarier than the movies’ Frankenstein’s monsters, but it’s tough for some readers to understand that because of Mary Shelley’s writing style. And whenever somebody tries to make a version of Frankenstein that is close to the novel, the audience always gets mad, and the movie tanks. Sorry, Mary Shelley, but Frankenstein’s monster has a flat head with a bunch of staples in it. And he’s not very introspective.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Disney animated version)
This has to be one of the most bizarre animated movies I’ve seen, with a happy ending (what?). I’d love to see what Disney would do with Romeo and Juliet, or Oedipus Rex, or The Awakening. Some classics are not for little kids.
The Last of the Mohicans
I can watch the last hour of this movie, and it always seems new. I can read the novel over and over again, and it always seems new… but for a different reason.
The movie doesn’t take that many liberties for Hollywood, but the movie is far more watchable than the movie is readable. Therefore, somebody trying to read the book after viewing the movie might toss the novel away in disgust (not that I’ve ever done that with The Last of the Mohicans or any other book).
Yet another movie where Will Smith says, “Aw, Hell no!” But at least none of his kids were in it.
The movie was kind of fun, but c’mon; that wasn’t Sherlock Holmes!
Speaking of Robert Downey Jr….
WHAT ALMOST MADE THE LIST
Yeah, Iron Man is a comic book and not a classic (Maybe some of those Tales of Suspense comics were classic, but the Captain America stories were usually way better, except for that two-issue Iron Man vs. Submariner fight that crossed over into Tales to Astonish and…. Never mind). The point is that the first Iron Man movie was one of the BEST SUPERHERO MOVIES EVER, but Iron Man has almost always been a sucky comic book. Anybody reading an Iron Man comic book after seeing the first movie had to be disappointed.
The reason it’s not on the list is that Troy wasn’t that good of a movie (but had a few great scenes) so it didn’t make a lasting impression on anyone (except those who liked seeing a shirtless Brad Pitt with long hair). Also, it wasn’t called The Iliad.
What other movies based on classic literature were misleading? How was The Great Gatsby? The Raven? Catching Fire? Do you enjoy the movies that are faithful to the literature, or do you like the ones that are misleading?