The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman.
Note – also called ‘Northern Lights’ outside of the US.
There are so many books out there that when turned into a movie are considerably crap. In fact, the only films I have ever seen that I liked better than the books are Lord of the Rings, The Silence of the Lambs and Sex & The City.
Now, I absolutely loved The Golden Compass in novel form. I first read it when I was sixteen, and every time I re-read it, I still find little gems and deeper meanings to so much.
I also loved the film. It wasn’t successful because of the religious movement sticking on the fact that God dies in the second book (they were saying the two protagonists murder him but they don’t) and the fact that the book questions religion in a parallel world. I also had some pretty big issues with casting – I wanted Jason Isaacs SO BADLY to be cast as Lord Asriel (and so, apparently, did Pullman), but they cast Daniel Craig (who was good, just not who I wanted) and Nicole Kidman’s Mrs Coulter didn’t have black hair.
I really loved the film. I was very excited to see it and was only a little bit disappointed, and I was only disappointed because the film had to stuff so much into one feature length and it missed so much of the other stuff in the book. They really boiled it down to an adventure story where Lyra goes off to rescue her friend. Yes, that’s what the book’s about, too, but it’s also about SO MUCH MORE.
I can’t bring myself to say this was ‘desecrated’ because unlike most people, I actually approach a film adaptation as a film in its own right and try NOT to compare it to the book. As a film in its own right, it was totally freaking awesome. Compared to the book, it is practically NOTHING – the book is just THAT amazing.
But I do recognise that this book is only one of many that when turned into a film loses part of the magic.