What makes a film adaptation stronger than its source material? Is it simply that visual media has a tighter hold on the audience's attention? Or is it that the combination of audio and visual together makes a better depiction of a story, than simply words on a page?
It is perhaps one of the hardest questions to answer when considering novels and their film version. There are many examples in history when films have paled in comparison to their source material. Much of the library of Stephen King's film adaptations have been lacking, with some excellent exceptions.
However, there are times again when an audience may love an adaptation but the writer hates it. The Shining is of course a prime example here, as are both A Clockwork Orange and American Psycho.
It sometimes comes down to simply personal taste. Sometimes, a novel can endear itself so deeply to an audience that no adaptation will ever be deemed worthy, while at other times the film makers can shock the world with the strength of their work. The films on this list are all vast improvements on the source material, even when that original material was strong to begin with.
Some are direct translations whereas others could arguably be given the description of inspired by the novels. However, this list serves to highlight some of the most excellent step ups in film adaptation.
10. The Lord Of The Rings
Before I am torn to shreds by Tolkien purists, let me put across my argument. The books have had an impact on literature that cannot be measured. Almost all of fantasy fiction that followed their publication owed Tolkien a great debt. It was inevitable that a film adaptation would come along.
Ralph Bakshi tried, with his animated versions in the '70s. They were fine.
Peter Jackson gave it a go in the late '90s and early '00s. He changed cinema utterly.
But why are the films better than the novels? For one thing, they manage to perfectly capture the feel and spirit of the novels, while trimming some of the excess. Tolkien had the expansive room to create the wide world of Middle Earth, where Jackson's films exist very much as part of this world. Each film of the trilogy manages to keep that feeling and each second of footage is clearly constructed with love.
The design of the films incorporate the designs that had been prevalent in Tolkien literature for years. Seeing these designs realized on screen was magical. The beauty and scale of Middle Earth was depicted in extremely fine detail - everything down to the buttons on the Hobbits' waistcoats were crafted with care.
The novels will always be special in the hearts of many fans, though for many more, the films serve as the first introduction to Middle Earth. While the adaptations of the Hobbit were varying in terms of quality, The Lord of the Rings remains one of the most successful improvements on the source material in history.