Question: Are there any film/TV adaptations that are better than the book?

I, along with millions of other costume drama fans, have been tuning into BBC1 for the past couple of nights to watch Jamaica Inn, an adaptation of Daphne du Maurier's famous novel. Complaints about the sound quality aside, the two parts of the drama screened so far haven't exactly caught my attention, and I've found myself watching out of obligation - it's very rare for me to pass up on a period drama!

During the course of tonight's episode I sent out this tweet:

"Not gonna lie, Jamaica Inn isn't exactly making me want to read the book. Lots of dramatic moor shots and mumbling in a Cornish accent.."

which prompted a fellow twitter user and Du Maurier fan to defend the novel and encourage me to read it, deeming the BBC adaptation 'nonsense'. I do, of course have every intention of reading the novel, I've never been one to judge a book by its film. This does however cause me to ponder the question: Are there any film or television adaptations that rival, or even surpass their literary counterparts? All too often I have got excited about an adaptation of a book that I have loved, only to be disappointed when it eventually comes to air.

This much used graphic illustrates perfectly the problem of book lovers, and indeed film makers everywhere: it is impossible to condense everything that happens in the novel into a two hour film. This is why, I suppose, there is a growing trend of splitting books into two films- like the final books in the Harry Potter and The Hunger Games series. But even then it is difficult to satisfy the fans of the books. There will always be at least a handful of people who are unhappy with the casting; we all have our own mental image of Heathcliff, and casting the infamous Christian Grey must have been one of the trickiest jobs in Hollywood (I've not read the book, but the twitter backlash when the original casting was announced was enough to demonstrate how passionate people are about their favourite literary characters).

Off the top of my head, the only instance I can think of where I prefer the film to the book is Bridget Jones' Diary - because how can you possibly better Hugh Grant and Colin Firth? Bridget is also a lot more likeable in the film; and it has a sense of Britishness about it that I just adore.

So which, if any, films do you prefer over the books? What is it that makes a good film adaptation? And are there any film adaptations coming out that you are excited about, or even dreading?


  1. Ah it ate my comment. Try again. I do think that there are some books that just Do Not Work as films. I love the book Possession but the film is terrible. Equally, I am not looking forward to the film adaptation of Room because without Jack's perspective that would be horrifying. I also couldn't bear to watch We Need to Talk about Kevin though that may have been the subject matter. I did really love the adaptation of Atonement though and the film of Tell No One was better than the book.

    1. I'm ashamed to say I've not read any of these, although I've seen a few quotations from Possession floating around that are just beautiful! I do love the film of Atonement (it helped that the beach they filmed on is a 20 minute drive from my house!) and intend to read the book asap :)


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