Entering the Strange World of Movie Novelisations

There are a lot of movies based on books.  For some, I’ve read both the novel and the movie.  That’s always an interesting thing to do, seeing how they’re different.

Lord of the Rings comes to mind when I think of movies made from books.  They did a pretty good job, I thought.  There were some things cut out, but overall, it was one of the better adaptations I’ve sen.  Another is Harry Potter.  I think it was reasonably well-done, although some of the things that were cut I felt were essential to understanding the whole story.  The movies didn’t have as much heart as the books.  Jurassic Park is on the other end of the spectrum.  The movie held little resemblance to the book.  The book was smartly written, had several subplots, and was absolutely fascinating.  The movie focused more on the dinosaurs and action, rather than the story.  It was a fun movie, but I was disappointed in the story.

A unique one is 2001: A Space Odyssey.  The novel and movie were written at the same time.  Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick worked together, making sure the novel and movie followed each other closely.  However, the movie was changed to go to Jupiter, while the book went to Saturn.  I believe this had to do with special effects.  Late 1960s special effects weren’t good enough to show the rings of Saturn.  Subsequent books ignored the fact that the first one went to Saturn, and instead focused on Jupiter.  I loved both the novel and movie, though.  Usually, I find that novels feel much longer than movies, but in this case, the movie felt slow, while the novel moved at a quick pace.

startreknemesisAnd then there’s the topic I want to talk about, movie novelisations.  I’d never read one before.  Until now, that is.  I’m currently reading Star Trek Nemesis, the final movie featuring the Next Generation cast.  The movie didn’t go over well with people, and as I’ve watched it, I wasn’t enthusiastic about the book.  Well, the novel is very easy to read, follows the movie very closely, and is incredibly short.  But I have this very strange uneasy feeling while reading it.  I’m inside the heads of the characters.  I know what they’re thinking and feeling.  And that’s everyone, because we’re inside the heads of every character in every scene.  I’m not used to reading omniscient point of view novels, except for limited omniscient.  In this book, we know everything.  I’m really not used to being inside Star Trek characters’ minds.  And another thing is that I know exactly what’s going to happen.  There’s no suspense, and there’s really no difference from the movie other than knowing their thoughts.  It’s kind of unsettling.

What do you think of movie novelisations?

10 thoughts on “Entering the Strange World of Movie Novelisations”

  1. In general, I have found movie novelizations to be far too light on details and characterization, compared to non-movie novels.

    Of all the movie novelizations you could have chosen… Nemesis? Really? *shakes head*

    “And that’s everyone, because we’re inside the heads of every character in every scene.” — That’s NOT typical of movie novelizations, at least the ones I’ve read. (If you want a decent Star Trek movie novelization, try the one for Star Trek IV: the Voyage Home. Not high art, but a fun read, and it does have more in it than the movie did.)

    1. I didn’t choose Nemesis. Blame my mother for that. It was a gift.

      As this is the only movie novelisation I’ve read, I don’t have a good understanding of them, but I agree that this one is very light on details and characterisation.

      Star Trek IV is my favourite Star Trek movie. I’ll eventually read all of the novelisations.

  2. I liked them as a kid but I would never read one now I’m an adult. I do remember that the novelisation of the Star Wars movies were great, especially Return of the Jedi. In those far-off days, we had very little other means of recapturing the magic of the films because nobody had a VCR and they weren’t on video for years anyway. So the books were a special glimpse inside that amazing universe.

  3. I read movie novelizations as a kid quite a bit. I was a kid when the Star Wars movies came out, in the days before video tape rentals. The only way to relive the adventures of Luke, Han, Leia, etc. was to read, and re-read, the novelizations, which I did over and over again.

    I remember reading the novelization of Willow before it was released and liked it very much, then was disappointed with the film because I didn’t think it captured the book.

    Another I read before the movie was The Last Starfighter. I thought Alan Dean Foster always did a nice job with movie novelizations.

    As an adult I read The Princess Bride before the film first came out, thought it was great, and then loved the film as well. I read the novelization of Labyrinth a few years ago as I was curious if it would reveal any more details about the main character Sarah’s mother…and now I can no long remember if it did or not.

    I don’t generally pick up novelizations any more, but every once in awhile am tempted to go back and read the Star Wars ones just for the sake of nostalgia.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.