The matter of live-action adaptations is a hotly debated topic in movie circles, and after decades of learning and growing with all of these projects, cinephiles have yet to reach a consensus as to what actually amounts to a great adaptation of a literary masterpiece.
Many would argue that everything starts to break apart the moment the producers veer away from the source material. You could probably name dozens of movies off the top of your head whose original book counterpart did a much better job of telling that particular story, but as some eagle-eyed members of the community have recently pointed out, for every failed adaptation that undermined the original narrative to their detriment, there is one movie that not only got away with it but turned into an absolute timeless classic.
This new Reddit thread has compelled hundreds of people to chime in with their picks for the movies that weren’t faithful to the books, and the result really puts the whole “adaptations suck because they don’t stick to the source material” argument to question.
One great example is the Bourne trilogy, starring Matt Damon.
The 2006 dystopian sci-fi thriller Children of Men was also very different from the book, but even the author had to acknowledge what Alfonso Cuarón managed to achieve in his 2-hour flick.
And then there are masterpieces like Blade Runner, Forrest Gump, and even Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining.
Honestly, the list goes on and on; The Truman Show, Fight Club, Jaws, Die Hard, The Godfather, Jurassic Park, The Lord of the Rings. Fans always say Peter Jackson captured the spirit of Tolkien’s world with his celebrated trilogy, but the sheer number of changes he made to the books would baffle you.
It seems that we really need to change our outlook towards adaptations. With five decades of cinema lending us hindsight, the conclusion should be resoundingly obvious, because it isn’t faithfulness that ultimately determines an adaptation’s success, but whether the people involved have been able to tell a great story with relatable characters.