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Cult Classic Movies and TV Shows That Are Actually Better Than the Books

Nine times out of ten, people will say the book is always better than the film or tv adaptation. To many, there’s something about reading and picturing the scenes in your head that just can’t compare to the screen. Not to mention that most movies cut out parts of the book and/or cast an actor that doesn’t match at all the description of the book character. And after all, isn’t the original always better?

Not always. While a rare case, sometimes the movie or tv adaption actually is better than the book. Here are some films that outshine their literary counterparts:

The Godfather

Portraying the world of the mafia and its themes of power, greed, and allegiance within the family of the Corleones during the years after World War II, there’s no doubt that both the book and movie are masterpieces. For those who haven’t seen it or read it, The Godfather tells the story of how the son of Don Vito Corleone (otherwise known as “The Godfather”), Michael Corleone, joins the Mafia and becomes involved in its drama and violence. While the book is excellent and has been on the New York Times bestseller list, the movie has incredible acting, directing and music that has won it many Academy Awards and Golden Globe Awards.

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

I read this book years ago, and to be honest, I was not impressed. A Holocaust story, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is told from the perspective of a Nazi’s nine-year-old son, Bruno, who meets a young prisoner in Auschwitz named Schmuel. However, Bruno is annoyingly naive in the novel, to the point where he mishears the Fuhrer as “the Fury” and any violence or curse words are edited out with blanks. The film is miles beyond the book it was inspired by, with talented actors and cinematic decisions that made it a heartbreaking but profound movie.

Mean Girls

Did anyone even know that Mean Girls was based on a book? Apparently, it was inspired by a nonfiction book called “Queens Bees and Wannabes” that was more of a guide to teenagers than an actual story. While the book isn’t bad, Mean Girls is a cult classic. With unforgettable one-liners (“It’s October 3rd”, “On Wednesdays, we wear pink”, etc), actresses and humor, it got everyone laughing and reminiscing about the horrors of high school.

The Shining

For those who enjoy horror movies, The Shining is widely considered one of the greatest horror films ever made. In the story, a man named Jack Torrance stays at a hotel as a caretaker with his family in hopes of curing his writer’s block. As time goes on, Torrance discovers the haunted secrets of the hotel and goes insane. The book is extremely good, especially since it was written by the talented horror novelist Stephen King. However, when it comes to horror movies, seeing the creepy scenes on the screen is way scarier than reading it in a book, so the film outshines the book on this one.

Orange is the New Black

While not technically a movie, the Netflix series Orange is the New Black took the original memoir it was inspired by and turned it into so much more. The memoir was written by a woman named Piper Kiernan, which tells the story of her experiences at a minimum-security federal prison. While the memoir was centered around mostly Piper, the Netflix series gave personality and background to the side characters, making it a much more interesting story. It’s also the most watched original series on Netflix, for good reason: it has made me cry, laugh, and most importantly sheds light on the current prison system that the book didn’t.

As a self-proclaimed bookworm, I’ll admit that I usually prefer the book to the movie or tv adaptation. However, there’s no denying that all the above adaptations on the silver screen make the book come to life. Sometimes what’s original isn’t always better, so definitely take the time to watch all these films and tv shows!

Hey, my name is Catherine Nguyen and I'm an undergraduate student at RU-New Brunswick! I'm planning on double majoring in English and actuarial mathematics. I love 90's hip hop, pineapple pizza and reading.
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