Book vs Movie: A Clockwork Orange – What’s the Difference?

I will resist the urge to use Burgess’ slang in this entire What’s the Difference with A Clockwork Orange.

Video: A Clockwork Orange – Lost in Adaptation.

Despite having previously covered A Clockwork Orange, Dominic’s video raised some points I didn’t discuss.

The mention of the missing chapter in the US editions of the book reminded me of the far more acceptable British version I had read. Because it has been quite some time since I read the book, I had forgotten entirely that Burgess had ultimately said “people grow up” or can actually change. Leaving this out of the US version and thus the film is both bad form and entirely American.

Given that most of the novel is essentially a drawn-out complaint about kids these days, it’s kinda important to acknowledge that ultimate point by Burgess. But in the land of gun-toting ‘Mericans, it makes sense they’d prefer the ending that justifies them standing on their porch with a shotgun grunting “get off my lawn.”

The other thing I was reminded of was the lexicon glossary. Burgess included a section (at the end? Could have been at the beginning) that roughly translated the slang into something approaching English. I can still remember continuously flipping back and forth as I read, deciphering as I went. It wasn’t a long novel, but I do remember doing this for the whole book.

I wonder if a more mature me would have more or less trouble with this slang aspect? I do know the more mature me would certainly have less patience.

Book vs Movie: Dune – What’s the Difference

The spice must something something.

Video: Dune – Lost in Adaptation.

While I don’t want to make a habit of doing multiple posts about books that get multiple movie adaptations, I’m doing it for Dune. Previously I discussed the very 80s adaptation of Dune. And now I’ve finally gotten around to watching the Dennis Villeneuve version.

It was fine.

I’ve watched a few sci-fi adaptations lately that spent a lot of time screaming “THIS IS SCI-FI” at the audience *cough Foundation cough*. So I was happy to see something so obviously sci-fi that didn’t do that. I also really like the world-building, which was mostly just long shots of locations. Made everything feel big.

But the new Dune kinda felt like an overly long and tension/stakes free movie. The soundtrack was bland and built zero themes to call back and emphasise key moments. Given the runtime and world-building, there still managed to be gaping holes in the story and consistency. I liked what they tried to do with the timeline visions, but it was a little confusing and could have been done better. And Jason Momoa managed to stand out in his role despite showing up as Jason Momoa.

To give an example of the consistency issue, I’ll mention the final scene (spoilers). Paul is shown to be capable with a knife early on but doesn’t show himself to be a warrior. Meanwhile, we get a heap of rhetoric about how tough and awesome the Fremen are, even a scene where they ambush and wipe out a unit of elite Sardaukar. Then in the final scene, Paul just casually bests a high-ranking Fremen (/spoilers). This all felt really inconsistent and in desperate need of establishment.

I will say that many of the issues with the movie are also issues with the source material, including the one I highlighted above. But for the most part, this was a pretty good adaptation. I’m just not sure it was a great film.

My review of the Dune novel here, and of the series here.

Picture: Sandworm promo pic from Dune 2021. Ironically clearer and more impressive than its appearance in the film as it was hidden in the dark.

Book vs Movie: Good Omens – What’s the Difference?

Let’s talk about the greatest book of all time and its TV show adaptation.

Video: Good Omens – Lost in Adaptation.

Roughly every decade I re-read Good Omens. It’s a fun novel that I recommend everyone read. They even have it as an audiobook, so no excuses!

When I first heard they were making a TV show adaptation, I wasn’t particularly thrilled. Pratchett’s work has a habit of being turned into forgettable shows and movies. But then I heard about David Tennant and Michael Sheen being cast. With Tennant attached to a project, you can guarantee it will be watchable, and the two real-life buddies have great chemistry (just watch Staged).

I still waited for some confirmation that the show would do the novel justice. My wife bought the series and laughed the whole way through. So I thought I’d ask her if it was any good before diving in myself. She said I might enjoy it.

The thing that impressed me about this adaptation was that it really “got it”. Obviously, it helps that one of the authors took the adaptation on as a labour of love and to honour his late friend. The idea that Gaimen had a good handle on his and Pratchett’s work seems like an obvious thing, but being the author of the book doesn’t make you a good screenwriter or the person to do the adaptation (looking at you Stephen King).

Seeing a show that manages to make changes to the source material that you’d swear were there all along is a testament to nailing an adaptation.

I’m crossing my fingers on season 2.

Book vs Movie: Field of Dreams – What’s the Difference?

Do you remember when Kevin Costner was a star? Then you might appreciate this month’s Lost in Adaptation on Field of Dreams.

Video: Field of Dreams – Lost in Adaptation.

The point Dominic Noble makes at the end of the above video is a good one. This is not the sort of book I would have thought would make for a good watchable movie. But often we can get stuck in our favourite genres (or whatever) and a movie adaptation can come along and shake us out of that rut.

That said, the only thing I really ever enjoyed about Field of Dreams was the references made about it in other movies. As for reading the book, this Aussie raised on cricket thinks baseball is too boring to read about.

Book vs Movie: The Snowman – What’s the Difference?

Let’s explore a Scandinavian crime fiction classic, with Lost in Adaptation.

Video: The Snowman – Lost in Adaptation

Many years ago, when I was on something of a crime fiction bender, I stumbled across Jo Nesbo. People were raving about his take on the Scandinavian crime genre and how interesting it was.

Part of this raving was that he was touring Australia promoting the film Headhunters (an interesting thriller movie) and exhibited a charming and charismatic demeanour as he humbly gave credit to his novel’s English translator. Yes, that’s right, despite his fluency in English and the majority of his book sales being to the English-speaking book market, he lets someone else translate them.

So I picked up a few Harry Hole novels and read one.

Nesbo himself referred to the series as being inspired by Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch, which I think is a fair comparison. But, the difference is that Connelly tends toward the dry real-world investigation influenced by his time as a crime reporter, whereas Nesbo tends toward the excitant – as much as a police procedural can do so.

Why did you read only one of the novels you bought?

That’s a very good assumed question from the assumed audience.

There are a few reasons. The first was that sometime after reading my first Nesbo novel I’d grown tired of the crime genre. As Dominic Noble mentions in the video, there are often numerous contrived red herrings in these sorts of books that start to become tedious rather than exciting and interesting. Often the main character is unlikeable or would be the person everyone at a party avoids due to their predilection for telling stories about linoleum texture styles through time.

The second reason was that, outside of a few exceptions, crime novels are part of the normalisation of the exceptional with a side serve of copaganda. When you start looking at crime data and policing and the giant chasm between that reality and the perceptions of crime and police, it becomes hard to enjoy this type of escapist fiction.

The third reason is something Dominic Noble alludes to in the video. The books aren’t exactly good. With a bit of distance from the genre now, I find myself less enamoured with authors like Nesbo, and thus have no real desire to read more of his stuff.

And on this point, I’m reminded of something Lauren Beukes said about being on a panel with Jo Nesbo. He was describing going to her home country of South Africa and how he got kitted out in body armour, had an armed guard to go places, etc, etc, and she commented how it was nice exaggeration that makes for a good story, but doesn’t really work if you give it any thought or know something about it.*

* I may be putting words in Beukes’ mouth here as this is a remembered comment from at least a decade ago.

Video: The Art of Editing and The Snowman by Dan Olsen aka Folding Ideas

Book vs Movie: The Beach – What’s the Difference?

Remember that time Leonardo DiCaprio used to date women his own age? Me neither. So let’s reminisce together and look at What’s the Difference between the book and the movie of The Beach.

Video: The Beach – Lost in Adaptation by Dominic Noble

The Beach was one of those books I picked up and put down. I can’t remember if that was before or after the movie – who am I kidding, it was probably after. But I do know that after watching the film, I’ve felt no compulsion to rewatch the film nor retry reading the book.

As Dominic discusses in his summary of the themes in the video, the hypocrisy of the characters wanting to find the non-tourist trap locations that only they can be tourists in is a great idea. But I’m not sure this idea was explored in an interesting enough way. Maybe it was in the book, hence its word-of-mouth success. Or maybe the book just executed a more engaging narrative that twenty-something me didn’t appreciate – I bet there wasn’t a single chapter devoted to things exploding after someone performed an amazingly athletic flying kick detailed in multiple paragraphs.

Actually, there’s an idea for a reboot: The Beach starring The Rock.