4 Times The Adaptation Was Better Than The Book

natasha pierre and the great comet of 1812 musical adaptation of war and peace

On the internet you find a lot of people who claim that the book is better than the movie/ tv show/ whatever. In some cases they say that the book will always be better no matter how good the adaptation is. In my experience this isn’t always true.

So today I’m going to share 5 books where the adaptation was actually better than the original source material.

Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812

Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812 is a musical written by Dave Malloy currently running on Broadway. This musical is based on 70 pages of War and Peace. It has become more than just a musical though with the being designed to resemble a Russian bar and with cabaret seating on the stage it makes the audience feel part of the show.

Of course you could just read War and Peace, but in my opinion any book which needs a guide on how to read it is far too long. Instead you can go see a small part of the story at the Imperial Theatre and feel like you are part of it.

Bridget Jones’ Diary

Bridget Jones’ Diary by Helen Fielding is very loosely based on Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. This may just be more of a personal preference because I didn’t like Pride and Prejudice all that much. But Bridget Jones has become so much more than just a remake. It is now very much it’s own thing, especially with the movie adaptations which have become the epitome of classic British romcom.

Rent

Rent is a musical written by Jonathan Larson based on Puccini’s La Bohème (which was in turn based on Scènes de la vie de bohème by Henri Murger). The story was originally about young Bohemians living in the Latin Quarter of France during the 1840s.

Jonathan Larson took the opera and turned it into a rock musical set in New York City. It tells the story of a group of artists struggling to live in Alphabet City while under the shadow of HIV/ AIDs. One of the things Rent did really well is it touched on important subjects like sexuality, drug addiction, homelessness when there was nothing else really like it in the early 90s.

The Lion King

Disney’s Lion King is very loosely based on Hamlet by William Shakespeare. I’m not saying that The Lion King is better than Hamlet, or that Shakespeare is boring. But what I found from having to study a number of Shakespeare’s plays is that the language is very different from what we’re used to.

It’s almost like having to learn another language. That makes it hard to understand at first. You need learn what the slang means, and it is enjoyable once you get it. But it does take rereading the play a number of times. On the other hand you could just watch The Lion King.

Can you think of any other books where the adaptation was better? Kingsman and Maze Runner are just two of many that I didn’t mention.

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4 thoughts on “4 Times The Adaptation Was Better Than The Book

  1. I think the thing with Shakespeare is that it’s a play, and plays are always better watched rather than read. Especially since, like you said, the language is so different from our current language. So like it’s way easier to watch a Shakespeare play, even in the original language, than it is to read one.

    Also I’ve never read Bridget Jones but I’m not a big Pride and Prejudice fan so maybe I won’t bother haha.

    1. Have you ever seen the 1996 Romeo and Juliet movie? Its a modern setting but still uses the old fashioned language. So yes it is a little easier to watch but still takes some getting used to. I think its because Shakespeare used so much slang in his plays.

      Yeah… Pride and Prejudice is a terrible book!

  2. I have 2 more for you: The Legend of Bagger Vance (a less than satisfactory read, but a great movie) and Death Comes to Pemberley (whoever adapted it did a much better job telling the story). As a Hamlet fan, I disagree about Lion King. Watching a good production of Shakespeare makes all the difference.

  3. Bridget Jones’ Diary is one of my FAVES. That said, I’m really not at all an Austen fan, and so basically I like every adaptation of her work better than the originals. I must say, I’d take the La Boheme over Rent any day of the week though… but I’m admittedly biased there too after spending some of my time in undergrad training in opera. 😉

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