“Based on a book” – This is probably one of the most popular sentences we can see in many current films alongside with the iconic “Based on true events”. The last one made me laugh, especially on historic movies where the only factual events were that it was sunlight and people actually talk and don’t bark.

With “Based on a book” happens the same. Not a long time ago I had the pleasure to re read one of my favourite novels in Spanish “El Club Dumas” by the great Arturo Pérez-Reverte. Arturo is possibly one of the most talented writers and journalists from his generation. His novel is compelling, addictive, shady characters, complicated plot and all linked in a very smart way that you can’t simply put the book down. Roman Polanski made the adaptation to the big screen, I was excited  to watch it. The movie was called “The Ninth Gate”. Ok, the title is not exactly the same but the main plot was about called “The Nine Gates of the Kingdom of the Shadows”, so the title made sense, points given. The rest of the plot is different. I understand that you can change the location to make the film mainstream, agree with that, but don’t change the characters and their personality. That’s not an adaptation or a version, it’s an atrocity. The result? The film bombed at the Box Office.

I have watched others that are loyal to the spirit of the book, for instance, Lord of the Rings. Stephen Jackson, clearly a fan of the Tolkien’s universe, recreate it extremely well. The purist might differ but they are purist for a reason: to make you aware they have read the book.

Other films have been mixed adaptation like Bram Stoker’s Dracula by Francis Ford Coppola. That was good one, well directed film with changes in the plot line but we could felt the essence of the book was in the veins of the film – I know it’s a lame example.

To recap – If you see the quote “Based on a book/novel” just do your homework and read the plot line before you watch to avoid any misunderstandings and deception.

I wish I had done that with “The Ninth Gate”…

Which is the best book adaptation that you remember? We are looking forward to read your comments!