10 Films BETTER Than The Book They Were Based On

No need to read the book first.

Silence Of The Lambs Anthony Hopkins Jodie Foster
Orion Pictures

‘It’s not as good as the book’, is a common phrase, usually rolled out when discussing books adapted to the big screen, and usually by someone who hasn’t even read the book.

This is of course sometimes true, but just as often it’s false.

Film adaptations can improve on their source material in many ways. The addition of an extra character or adding some motivation to an existing one can help round out the original story.

Likewise, a lengthy novel might need some judicious editing when it makes the transition to the screen. Film is a leaner medium than the novel, so jettisoning unnecessary plotlines to ensure the final film isn’t three hours long will generally be additive to the film.

An actor’s influence can also be a key factor; a standout performance or unique interpretation of one of the book's characters can elevate the film. In the same way a director’s choices can have a similarly positive effect.

So, let’s look at ten film adaptations that are not only equal to the book they’re based on, but improve on them significantly, surpassing the original work.

10. Trainspotting

Silence Of The Lambs Anthony Hopkins Jodie Foster

This problem stems from Irvine Welsh’s quirky writing style; Welsh transcribes all of his characters Scottish dialects to the page phonetically. It’s a divisive decision, and it certainly infuses characters with additional personality with each one having subtle differences in the way their accent appears on the page. Some accents being thicker and more difficult to parse, other accents being softer.

On the other hand, this constant shift in POV characters between chapters can wear out the reader’s patience quickly (the language of the utterly terrifying character, "Franco" Begbie, is particularly inscrutable to the reader).

Welsh is an experimental author and it really depends if you’re along for the ride; your mileage will vary. So, it’s fortunate that Welshman's best-known work, Trainspotting, has such a fantastic film adaptation.

The film is darkly comedic and follows the lives of a group of heroin addicts living in Edinburgh, particularly Renton (Ewan McGregor) who is determined to finally kick his drug habit. The movie is funny, disgusting, and tragic in equal measure.


Ben is an avid fan of horror, science fiction, and fantasy. He also loves video games but is alarmed at his steadily growing back log; he hopes to finish Red Dead Redemption 2 sometime around 2030.