Read from Movie to Book: Movies that you didn’t know were books
Many movies were made from books that went under the radar. Just because you’ve seen the movie first, doesn’t mean you can’t go from movie to book. Here’s a list of movies that were either inspired by or based on books that you may not have known about:
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
The fourth installment on Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean movie series features Johnny Depp and Penelope Cruz on the search for the famed fountain of youth. However, this movie wasn’t based solely on the Disney amusement ride that inspired the franchise. On Stranger Tides is a novel written by Tim Powers in 1987 which was the inspiration for not only the Disney movie, but also a pirate-themed video game series called Monkey Island released by LucasArts. The main character of Powers’s novel was not initially a pirate, surprisingly, but is a man named John “Jack Shandy” Chandagnac who is thrust into an adventure-filled plot when he decides to confront an uncle who has unfairly absconded with the family inheritance. The novel was praised by both Orson Scott Card and Jack Adrian who described the novel as a skillful blend of “high seas adventure with sorcery and black magic.” Those who love a good adventure story will love On Stranger Tides, along with those who enjoy the revival of the age of piracy.
Disney released a science fiction movie called John Carter in 2012, featuring the hunky Taylor Kitsch in a role as a former Captain for the Confederate Army in the Civil War. John Carter, from a Civil War era Virginia, stumbles upon a portal that transports him to the planet of Mars, giving him a whole new kind of war to face down. While the film was met with mixed reviews, it was a loyal depiction of one of the first science fiction novels to set the genre straight along the path that eventually lead to fantastical science fiction stories like Star Wars. Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote a series of novels about a character named John Carter, starting with the book entitled A Princess of Mars. Even though the book was written in 1917, the influence that Burroughs has left on science fiction is seen many modern portrayals of the genre. In addition to Michael Crichton who named a character on ER after John Carter and James Cameron, who was quoted to say that Burroughs influenced his creation of Avatar, the famous scientist Carl Sagan read the books as a child and may have influenced him to pursue science.
The book is an easy read, being written as a paperback, pulp novel and would appeal to readers who enjoy romance, westerns, or science fiction.
There Will Be Blood
The Academy Award winning film, There Will Be Blood starring Daniel Day Lewis tells the story of an American oil tycoon, during the frantic search for oil in American land during California’s oil-boom around the late 1890s and going into the early 1900s. The dramatic and compelling storyline was taken from a novel called Oil! by Upton Sinclair. While most people are more familiar with Sinclair’s shocking portrayal of the meat-packing industry in The Jungle, something commonly referenced by students’ history books, Oil! caused its fair share of scandal during Sinclair’s time for a nine-page long sex scene that was later censored, sold as the “fig leaf edition” with the offending pages blacked out. While the movie is only loosely based on the novel, fans of the film will love the authenticity of the time period when the movie takes place. Oil! touches on some political and moral dilemmas that are timely even in a modern setting.
Those who enjoy historical fiction will find Oil! delightfully accurate, but the novel will also appeal to those looking for a good drama.
The Nightmare Before Christmas
In this case, the film was based on a three-page poem written by Tim Burton in 1982 while he was working for Disney as an animator. Although he had only a poem to start with, in 1991 Tim Burton had a signed deal with Disney and had begun work on a project that would take over two years to complete. The picture book was created using the original poem that inspired Tim Burton to make the film and is illustrated by Burton himself. Booklist recommends the children’s book for 3rd through 5th graders and suggests that older kids might find the “book amusing in a gross kind of way” with lines like “And what to their wondering eyes should appear / But a coffin sleigh with skeleton deer. / And a skeletal driver so ugly and sick / They knew in a moment, this can’t be St. Nick.”
Those with a penchant for picture books will love this read along with anyone who is a fan of the film. Seek it out if you like macabre poetry or have an interest in the illustrations.
The Princess Bride
“Something in The Princess Bride affects people,” claims the author of the famous novel turned film William Goldman. Starring several acclaimed actors such as Peter Faulk, Fred Savage, Cary Elwes, and Robin Wright, The Princess Bride movie was a modest success in the United States, earning nearly double the cost of the film back, but soon became a cult classic favorite. The charming on-screen romance combined with some memorable comedic lines had the right chemistry to enchant young and old alike. Surprisingly, the book is very similar to the movie, having the same framework of a story within a story, a literary device that allows Goldman to interject commentary from one story to another.
Read the original context of some of the most famously quoted lines from film history such as “Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die,” some epic storytelling moments, and some guaranteed laugh out loud moment in William Goldman’s novel, The Princess Bride. As the book was written for Goldman’s young daughters (who apparently had a hand in naming some of the characters), the novel is appropriate for children, grade five and older along with adults who are looking for a timeless tale of adventure and romance.
It’s often said that the book is better than the movie because it’s hard to squeeze an entire book into a two hour movie, but you’ll have to find out for yourself. Some of the classics are worth a read to find out what you missed out on during the adaptation.
What’s your favorite movie that was inspired by the book? Did you like the book or the movie better?