When a novel is turned into a movie, would you rather read it or just watch the flick? We say, both!
Coraline by Neil Gaiman
Coraline Jones (Yes, it’s Coraline and not Caroline as most people often assume) is an adventurous young girl whose parents are too busy for her and whose new apartment complex is filled with nothing but eccentric old people. One day, she discovers a door and a key. Beyond that door is another mother and father who dote on Coraline and indulge her whims. Will Coraline be tempted to stay in the alternate world beyond the door or fight her way back to her real parents? In this modern day Alice in Wonderland, Neil Gaiman creates a dark world reminiscent of those gloomy rainy days.
The movie version of Coraline was created using claymation. The use of claymation allows it to capture many of the eccentricities of the story and the characters while giving it a more realistic, eerie quality. One major change in the story is the addition of Wyborne, a young boy around Coraline’s age who is the grandson of the owner of the apartment complex. The addition of Wyborne gives the story a friendship aspect as Wyborne helps Coraline despite his cowardly tendencies.
Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen
Flipped illustrates the truth that there are two sides to every story. For Bryce Loski and Julianna Baker, it is something they have yet to figure out. The minute Juli Baker sees Bryce Loski’s blue eyes, she is captivated and convinced that he will be her first kiss. But the sight of Juli Baker makes Bryce Loski want to run and hide. Throughout their childhood, Juli does all the chasing. But in the eighth grade, things happen that change their outlooks in life and their feelings towards the other. Told from two perspectives, Flipped is a story about family, first love, and growing up.
The movie version of Flipped, though mostly faithful to the story, even down to minute details, made one significant change that enhances the overall feel and tone of the novel. Flipped the novel is presumed to be set in the present time or at least after 1980. The movie version however is set in the 50s or 60s. The setting allows the movie to capture the innocence and child-like perspective that the book tries to espouse. This child-like innocence allows the movie to tackle deeper issues such as social inequality, prejudice, and mental disabilities with a lighter tone. Overall, Flipped the movie effectively brings the book alive. Both are worth seeing and appreciating.
How To Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell
On the Isle of Berk, Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III is beginning his training to become a full-fledged viking. The only problem is, despite being the son of the Chief, Hiccup is probably the complete opposite of what a viking should be. Each viking in training gets to pick their own dragon and Hiccup ends up with the most useless, selfish, and definitely the smallest dragon, whom he names Toothless. The series follows Hiccup and Toothless on various adventures in which Hiccup surprisingly proves to be the hero despite all odds being against him.
The movie version of How To Train Your Dragon deviates from the books in many aspects. In fact, only the concept of vikings and dragons seems to remain constant. In the movie, Hiccup is still considered the useless son of the Chief, but Toothless is actually a rare and dangerous dragon. Vikings and dragons are enemies and the viking children are trained to defeat dragons. Hiccup is more of an inventor and he creates a machine that eventually ends up injuring Toothless and capturing him. The movie follows Toothless’s recovery and Hiccup’s attempts to train him. The movie has more emotional pull and character development, while the books are more humorous. The movie will make you want to read the books and vice versa.
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
To Kill A Mockingbird, set in the 1930s, is a story about growing up. The story is told from the perspective of Scout Finch, a six-year-old girl, who lives with her older brother Jem and their widowed father Atticus, a lawyer. The novel actually delves into serious societal issues such as racism and prejudice. It chronicles the children growing up in the town of Maycomb, Alabama. Most of their summer adventures involve the social recluse Boo Radley, who the children find fascinating. Although he never shows himself, he makes his presence known by leaving small tokens for the children. The main conflict in the story occurs when Atticus is tasked to defend Tom Robinson, a black man accused of raping a white woman. It is during this trying time that Atticus’s moral character is tested and Jem and Scout have to endure taunting and teasing. As the story is told from Scout’s perspective, we see the events unfolding through her innocent eyes.
The movie was made in 1962 and was most definitely a testament to the book. All the characters were acted out well, especially the role of Atticus Finch, played by Gregory Peck who went on to win an Oscar for Best Actor for his portrayal. Though the movie is shot in black and white, somehow it lends to the film’s authenticity and the feeling of a sleepy town called Maycomb, Alabama. The movie and book are said to be an autobiography of sorts and Lee’s father served as the inspiration for Atticus Finch. The book and the movie complement each other well, but it’s really the story itself and the values it presents that are worth reading and learning.