I have to admit — Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane got me. The twists of the conspiracy vs insanity plot played out on a hurricane lashed island/mental hospital didn’t disappoint. I love a suspenseful, unexpected ending that brings all the details together in ways I couldn’t have anticipated. But what about the upcoming movie? Scheduled to be released spring 2010, can the movie really be as good as the book?
Let’s consider I Am Legend. In the movie, Will Smith’s character becomes “legend” for saving humanity rather than being the last of his kind as in the Matheson story, completely changing that “ah-ha” moment of clarity that the title implied to a Hollywood happy ending. Needless to say, the movie let down many readers, including me. Disappointment would be putting it mildly for those who saw My Sister’s Keeper after reading the Jodi Picoult novel. The blanket disclaimer “based on the book” may provide the author a hefty paycheck, but doesn’t forgive the hatchet job that happened to the plot. The librarian in me loved the marketing provided to the book, but at the same time wanted to scream, “What’d you mean she dies! I just sat through an hour and a half of this movie and you kill the wrong person!”
But then, what better way than a movie to convey the action or sheer magic contained in some stories? I can’t imagine the white-knuckle ride of Ludlum’s Bourne series or the intimacy of Ambrose’s Band of Brothers being adequately put into words. And bless Kenneth Branagh for allowing a house containing three males to experience the beauty of Shakespeare’s language with understanding and laughter through his version of Much Ado About Nothing.
So, I’ll probably skip Shutter Island in the theater. Why ruin a good book? Besides I already know the ending….
Click here to see a list of books made into movies.
What’s the worst—or best—book made into a movie you’ve seen?