Here at TMP I’ve had a couple articles dealing with books and movie adaptations. Inevitably one of the comments I always get on these articles say something to the effect of “I didn’t even know that was based off a book!” Sometimes those adaptations can sneak up on you and unless you really watch the credits you would never know. So I’ve compiled a list of movies you most likely didn’t know were based off of books.
And just because, I’ve thrown in a couple that are actually based off of comic books.
The Neverending Story
This classic children’s story is still one of my favorite movies. While the effects are now dated, the fantasy film remains a timeless story that just about anyone can relate to. It started life as a German fantasy novel by Michael Ende and helped spawn the first two movies (elements from the latter half of the book gave birth to the sequel). This probably explains why the first two movies are the only ones that are watchable...the third one is just awful.
Yeah, I’m sure most people would have never guessed this was based off of a book. It’s easy to see why as the book is titled Nothing Lasts Forever by Roderick Thorp and doesn’t feature a massive explosion on the cover. The book is far more crime novel than it is an action adventure, but it’s hard to complain about the changes in the story when your end result is Die Hard. Seriously, who’s going to bitch about that?
Interesting fact: The book Nothing Lasts Forever is actually a sequel to another book, The Detective. The Detective had also been made into a movie previously starring Frank Sinatra. In essence Die Hard is a sequel....
Road to Perdition
If you tell people that Tom Hanks has been in a comic book movie, most will call you a liar. However, the critically acclaimed 2002 movie starring Tom Hanks is actually based off of a comic book. While most people tend to think of all comics as featuring superheroes saving the universe, there are a wide array of comics that tell stories in the ‘real’ world setting. The poignant family drama and themes that the critics applauded the movie for, are ever-present and even more fleshed out in the comics.
A History of Violence
Yet another non-superhero comic shows up on here with the Viggo Mortensen starring A History of Violence. The movie strays pretty widely from the comic book however (mostly using the characters and general plot), since the comic plays out as an extended flashback to the character’s mob past, while the movie focuses on his family life and only alludes to his past rather than showing it. Hell, even director David Cronenberg admitted that he didn’t know it was based off of a comic until he started working with the writer on the second draft!
Interesting Fact: A History of Violence has the odd distinction of being the final major Hollywood film to be put out on VHS...
I actually just found this out myself. I was watching Shrek and then noticed during the credits it said based on a book by William Steig. I was so shocked that I hadn’t caught this before, I immediately looked it up. While the movie borrows the characters from the childrens story, the book is far different from the film. The film’s main theme is about discovery and finding the good person inside of you. It’s what makes the Ogre so lovable. In the book Shrek doesn’t have these redeeming qualities and in fact enjoys being a despicable person. Overall we’re glad the movie went with the moral high-ground.
While the Dustin Hoffman film The Graduate has become a classic film, and a must-see for all movie buffs and filmmakers, the book it was based on has largely gone unnoticed. While the stories are both the same, with no significant changes, the big difference is all in the execution. The book is good, but the directing style and competency of the actors is what sets the movie on an entirely different level.
Good to see Bruce Willis making this list more than once. This time with the Sci-Fi thriller Surrogates. This is based off of a comic of the same name, and follows the same story. At it’s heart it’s a simple crime story and we all know that that’s pretty much Willis’ bread and butter. It’s a fun story, but Surrogates really failed to find its audience in the theaters. While the comic is a great foray into the future with many interesting themes, the movie downplayed a lot of those elements instead going for the action side of it. It fell short in many ways, so be sure to pick up the comics for a far more engaging Sci-Fi tale.
And there you have it. While there are still some others out there many likely won’t make the connection too, I figured these would be some of the biggest ones. If we’ve missed any be sure to let us know in the comments!