RTW: Book vs. Video

Road Trip Wednesday is a "Blog Carnival," where YA Highway's contributors and followers post a weekly writing- or reading-related question and answer it on their blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

This week's topic: What movie have you seen that actually (gasp!) improved on the book?

Some interesting picks for this one in the road trip--some I agree with, and others made me say, "Whaaat?" That's what I love about these road trips!

My pick is Girl with a Pearl Earring; the book by Tracy Chevalier in 2001, and the film came out in 2004.

For the most part I enjoyed the novel and the very specific time and place it portrayed, but the writing was fairly passive and left parts of the story to fall flat. In truth, by the time the movie came out I'd forgotten about the book.

And then I started hearing about a new Colin Firth movie--and I didn't really need to hear more than that before buying a ticket! But this movie turned out to be so much more than Colinporn. I use that term for all Colin Firth movies, but what's so impressive about this film is that the onscreen sexual tension between Vermeer (Firth) and Griet (Johansson) is absolutely sizzling.

Some of that is due to their stellar acting abilities, of course, but also the film maker's choices, including the choice not to include any explicitly sexual scenes. The hottest scene in the entire film is about hair, for pity's sake! But I distinctly remember holding my breath through that scene, and having it whoosh out of me when the story moved on.

The other place where the movie outshines the book is visually. Tracy Chevalier did a great job trying to describe colors and shadows, and other aspects of creating a painting. But those scenes in the film do an even better job conveying the sense of wonder and hyperfocus I get while I'm painting, or looking at a truly great piece of art.

In the special features on the disc I have, they talked about how many of the movie's scenes are deliberate re-creations, almost tableaus, of the Dutch Master style of painting. The lighting, the colors and hues, the quiet, homey moments captured instead of pageantry. So well done!

Okay, now I need to go watch it again!
Feel free to put a link to your post in the comments if you played along with Road Trip Wednesday. Don't forget to go to the YA Highway post and read all the answers!


stephanie kuehn said...

Good choice. That is a gorgeous movie, for sure.

Colin Smith said...

Yet another book I've never read and movie I've never seen. Though Colin Firth is another one of those actors who tends to shine in whatever he does. :)

Melanie Stanford said...

Why haven't I seen this movie yet??? I've always wanted to but now since I know it's good, I'll have to keep my eye out.

VikLit said...

Great choice it's a gorgeous film!

Kristin Halbrook said...

Ha, Colinporn! Love it. Oh, this was definitely a stunning movie. And eroticism with hair is so poetic.

beck nicholas said...

Great choice. And I agree that Colin firth is one of those 'bookmark it' actors.

Alison Miller said...

I've found the choices very interesting too. I don't really have an answer to this one - with every BTM adaptation I've seen - the book is always better. I'll have to think on this one!

Angelica R. Jackson said...

Thanks for all the comments, guys! I'm unfortunately going to be hit or miss on the RTWs for a while--just started volunteering for another animal rescue organization. And also am trying to do a big push on my WIP wordcount. Anybody have a time turner I can borrow?

Kris Atkins said...

I've seen the movie and read the book, and remember enjoying each, but don't remember much beyond that. Although I did enjoy how Chevalier helped the reader "see" as an artist sees. But yeah, the book was not very remarkable. I need to rewatch the movie!

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