How To Make A Book Better, (from text to screen)

Angels and Demons movie poster, photo by fsse8info
Angels and Demons movie poster, photo by fsse8info

Once I read a book , I rarely attend the movie or rent the DVD. Too many times I end up disappointed at the film’s inability to translate the richly layered subplots of a good novel into a successful film. That’s not to say that good cinema can’t be created from important literature, but merely refers to the fact that seeing a film after having read the tale, usually turns out to be a disappointment. For me, I need a blank slate between my ears when I look at a movie.

This situation was certainly true for Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code, but his (movie) sequel, Angels and Demons provided a fast-paced and engaging entertainment experience that  in my opinion outshone the book. Much of the credit has to go to the screenwriter, Akiva Goldsman, who turned a pretty good story with a shaky ending into a pretty good story with a much better ending.

Although a good read, the one drawback of the novel was the ridiculously unbelievable climax, when the helicopter took off from Vatican City with the core sample of anti-matter. The movie handled this well by making the helicopter scene more believable and also by adding  more plot to the story, some of which was not revealed until the last minutes of the film. Furthermore, several events in the opening of the book were either changed or condensed in the film to help get the story moving, though the pacing of both the book and the novel was quite fast.

So is the recent enjoyment of Angels and Demons going to change my movie viewing habits. Not likely – for I chose to watch Angels and Demons for two reasons. First, I enjoyed the setting of the story and I wanted to see how the  filmmakers handled the visuals (I thought they did very well). And then of course, I couldn’t believe they would use the same grand finale that Dan Brown did. (they didn’t)

As as far as my thoughts on Mr. Brown and his two books – turned to movies- are concerned. They are an unique concept that has rightly captured the minds of many readers and created a large following at the cinema, but when all is said and done – I guess perhaps Mr. Brown should have gotten a little more from the rich source of material that he so successfully tapped into.

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One thought on “How To Make A Book Better, (from text to screen)

  1. The biggest unanswered question held over from the first film is the state of Tom Hanks hair – the moment I saw the mutant mullet I was completely thrown. I did, however stick with the film until the end, staring at his barnet the entire way through. What the hell is that? Is it another conspiracy? Was he secretly emulating a 1980’s German porn icon? The decision to have such a ridiculous haircut undermined any attempt at me taking the film, or the character, seriously.

    I do agree Akiva’s work on the script of the second film was well above the call of duty, but I still don’t trust his judgment with any adaptations until I have seen them myself – his Batman scripts from the nineties still leave a bad taste in the mouth. The decision to use him for such a high profile film caused me to raise an eyebrow, but he did a magnificent job.

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