Library Moments: DVDs You Didn’t Know Were Based On Books

Bessie Sullivan, County Librarian: Hello I’m Bessie Sullivan from the Haliburton County Public Library and this is Library Moments.  Once a week some of us from the library will come and talk about books, upcoming events, or the services we offer at the library.

Many movies are based on books and most of the time this is quite obvious as the movie and the book share the same title.  But sometimes, for whatever reason, the name of the book and the movie differ.

Today Sherrill Sherwood, Erin Kernohan-Berning and I will discuss movies that are also based on books but are called something completely different.

stand by meSherrill Sherwood, Collections Development:Based on Stephen King’s story The Body, the movie Stand By Me tells the tale of Gordie Lachance, a writer who looks back on his preteen days when he and three close friends went on their own adventure to find the body of a kid their age who had gone missing and was presumed dead. The stakes are upped when the bad kids in town are closely tailing – and it becomes a race to see who’ll be able to recover the body first. Stand By Me was a sleeper hit, it was released in only sixteen theaters in August, 1986 but two weekends later went to wide release and was number two at the box office. King’s story The Body is actually in the title Different Seasons, a collection of four novellas he wrote in 1982.

O brother where art thouErin Kernohan-Berning, Branch Services Librarian: O Brother, Where Art Thou? Takes Homer’s Odyssey to the deep south during the Great Depression. Ulysses Everett McGill (Ulysses being the Latin equivalent of the Greek Odysseus – hero of the Odyssey), has escaped prison with the help of fellow convicts Pete and Delmar, offering them the promise of treasure in exchange for their assistance. In truth, Everett, like Odysseus, wants to get home to his wife Penny to prevent her from marrying another man. As Everett and his crew make their way to Ithaca, Mississippi they encounter a blind soothsayer, siren laundry women by the river, the cycloptic Big Dan, and as their prophet tells them “oh so many startlements.”

O Brother, Where Art Thou? also draws from other novels and films such as The Grapes of Wrath, The Wizard of Oz, Bonnie and Clyde, and Moby Dick. Most notably it draws from Sullivan’s Travels, a motion picture comedy about a director who endeavors to make a socially conscious movie about poverty in the U.S. based on a fictional non-fiction book titled O Brother, Where Art Thou?

While the Coen Brothers claimed to have never read the Odyssey, this is considered a red herring by many. While the Coens would have us believe that they only borrowed many of the popular themes from the Odyssey while really remaking a film that never existed, many Odyssey scholars do hold up O Brother, Where Art Thou as a clever modern retelling of Homer’s epic.

simon birchBessie: John Irving has written many books that were turned into movies, Cider House Rules is an example of this where the book and the movie share the same title, but a movie called Simon Birch was based on Irving’s book A Prayer for Owen Meany. The movie is about a young boy with stunted growth who is convinced that God has a great purpose for him. Of the screenplay for Simon Birtch John Irving said “I read the script, which I liked; it’s a good story. But I felt that the story was markedly different from the story of “Owen Meany”; I felt it would mislead the novel’s many readers to see a film of that same title which was so different from the book.  Interestingly enough the character of Owen from the novel is described as a boy who believes himself to be God’s instrument and sets out to fulfill the fate he has prophesied for himself.  To me the descriptions don’t sound very different, but Irving saw enough of a difference to suggest an alternate title.

The Haliburton County Public Libraries has tons of both fiction and nonfiction stories that have inspired movies as well as the movies themselves.  We hope you keep asking the question, which did you like better the movie or the book?  You’ve been listening to Library Moments on 100.9 CanoeFM.

*Originally aired on 100.9 CANOE FM, August 3rd – August 9th, 2014.


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