It’s a frequent critique of films adapted from novels that they just can’t live up to the general heft of the source material, either through removing elements for pacing reasons, arrogantly making changes to the story, or simply failing to capture the tone that the author had intended. However, occasionally, the opposite is true, and filmmakers have managed to transpose a story onto another medium in a way that enhances its meaning and resonance. Here are some such examples, and literary purists, feel free to sound off against us in the comments section below…
10. The Godfather
The Godfather – adapted from Mario Puzo’s 1969 novel – is one of those few films held in such high esteem for its overall heft, that it easily surpasses the novel, and is certainly the more memorable of the two (even if that’s not always a good thing). Stunning performances across the board – specifically from Marlon Brando, Al Pacino and Robert Duvall – alongside Francis Ford Coppola’s faultless direction keep the narrative bounding along, while Puzo’s original text is itself rife with pacing problems and a crucial lack of urgency.
Puzo, teaming with Coppola to write the film’s screenplay, elides much of the sagging fat in his novel – namely sub-plots which only bog it down – into a cohesive, quietly intense ride. The larger-than-life quality of the film, with its statuesque performers and enduring reputation as one of the greatest American movies ever made, makes it a foregone conclusion that it will be remembered as having surpassed Puzo’s original creation.
This article was first posted on October 22, 2012