by Robin Spano
Question of the Week: Is it true that bad books make good movies and good books make bad ones?
Susan Shea wrote a well-argued post yesterday in favor of the truth of this statement. She highlighted the Stephanie Plum, Jack Reacher, and Inspector Lynley series and showed why the movies and TV series not only didn't rep the books well, but didn't suck her in on their own merit either.
In the comment section, Meredith Cole made an interesting point: that the ingredients that make great reading and great watching are entirely different. A great book gets behind the eyes of the characters for emotional depth. A great movie is more action than reaction; more doing than analysing.
The exception to the rule is (for me) The Princess Bride by William Goldman. The book and the movie sucked me in equally. Characters aren't particularly deep (okay, they're downright stereotypical!) but the action in the book is compelling, and the dialogue is quick, fun, and unique enough to pique my interest in a literary way. The movie rocked. Pure and simple. For the same reasons the book did—it was fast-paced and compelling, and original in its farcical sterotypes.
And what's most interesting of all (to me): William Goldman wrote both the book and the movie. Turns out, he's a bit like Criminal Minds' Meredith Cole: he knows the ingredients that keep us flipping pages, and he knows the ingredients that keep us glued to the screen.
I read another book of his, Boys and Girls Together, and I loved it. But it was longer, slower and deeper, and I don't think I would have loved it as a movie.
Oh, and totally irrelevant aside, for just because: Robin Wright plays the lead in The Princess Bride in hervery first role onscreen, and she's also the female lead (Claire Underwood) in Netflix's House of Cards, to which I am completely addicted.