Even though I've started reading regularly since last year, one thing I hadn't done yet was watch a movie that was based on a book I had read. Well, I recently finished reading "The Firm" by John Grisham, and when I found out that a movie was also made, I decided to give it a go. I've heard many times that the movies are never as good as the books, and so I wasn't expecting this movie to live up to the book (which I thoroughly enjoyed) either, but boy, I wasn't expecting to hate the film so much.
It started off decently enough. I expected that a lot of things were going to be cut out from the film since you can never cram everything from a book into a few hours. Though I was surprised that the film was 2.5 hours long. I was expecting it to be maybe between 1.5-2 hours. Anyway, a few important aspects from the book which described just how controlling the firm is were just glazed over in the film. The way the firm encourages its lawyers to have children and how they allow the lawyers' wives to work were given plenty of emphasis in the book, but in the film these two points just received a few lines of dialogue instead. The book also emphasised on the heavy surveillance the firm performs on its lawyers. Another aspect that was given significantly less importance in the film. But one thing which I just can't forgive is how the main plot of the film was changed so much towards the end. The plot in the book was intelligent, sophisticated, and really, really well thought out. The plot in the movie on the other hand was so dumbed down that I couldn't believe how bad it was. I understand that telling a story in print is much different from telling a story on screen, regardless if it's the small or big screen. but to change the core of the story so drastically? That's just such a shame.
I guess that's why the success of books can't really be translated that well to films or TV. With books you get narrations that take us deeper into the minds of the characters, deeper into the setting, and deeper into the story. A book would probably take the average person a pretty significant number of hours to complete which could span over a few days or a few weeks. A movie is done is about 2 hours. That level of depth that we get from books just can't be translated to TV or films, which is why I would assume, that most movies based on books feel empty by comparison. That famous saying, "A picture is worth a thousand words", doesn't seem to be true in this instance, where the words in a book can't accurately be represented by a series of moving pictures, i.e., a movie.
Another thing that I think books do better compared to movies is ageing. "The Firm" is almost 30 years old, first published in 1991, with the movie being made 2 years after the release of the book. Yet when I read the book, there was very little evidence which showed how old the story was. Maybe the lack of mobile phones and the importance of public phones in the story was a dead giveaway, but other than that, the story didn't feel "old" at all. The movie on the other hand just screamed 90s. The aesthetic of the film clearly showed its age. From the wardrobe of the actors, to the quality of the video itself, the music, the cinematography, the dialogue, everything about the film gave away how old it was. Words on the other hand, just don't seem to age. In the book, the main character is given a luxury car as a sign-on bonus when he joined the firm. In my head, I pictured a modern sports car, something you would actually see on the road in 2020. When I watched the film though, that "luxury car" was an old, blocky, and very square car from the 90s. Some very good films are evergreen, but good books are even more so.
Lastly, I didn't like how the characters were changed from the book to the film. I don't mean characters were replaced, I mean their personalities and their roles in the film were significantly different from the book. The main character's wife for example. In the book she was a major part of the plan to evade and escape the firm, she was by her husband's side throughout the entire conspiracy, but in the movie she was just, well, the wife who inadvertently got involved with the plan. There's an FBI agent involved in the story, and in the book he was quite chill. In the movie though, he was a hardass who had no decorum whatsoever. In addition to the changes to the plot, these character changes only hurt the quality of the film even more.
Did you read and watch "The Firm"? What did you think about it? What other books have you read and watched the films? Harry Potter? Lord of the Rings? Game of Thrones? Did you ever enjoy the film adaptation more than the book?