Films that barely resemble the books they are based on

If you’re a bookworm (like us), then you’ll always be a bit dubious of book to film adaptations. Sometimes the characters aren’t quite how you imagined them to be or the directors use a bit too much poetic license to bend the story. However, sometimes, movies are made that barely resemble the book they’re based on at all. Like, not even slightly. Here are some book to movie adaptations that you’d hardly know are the same story.

The Bourne Identity

Other than basically the very first scene of The Bourne Identity, the movie and book could not be any more different. The book, by Robert Ludlum, is set in the Cold War and is a fascinating thriller. Bourne has to pose as a spy in order to kill a real undercover agent, there are plenty of misunderstandings along the way, and the setting is most definitely an interesting one. Fast forward to the movie version in 2002, and you’ve got something very different indeed. Bourne is trying to escape from CIA agents who are trying to kill him, although he has no idea why. Funnily enough, the fact that Bourne doesn’t really know who he is or what’s going on, kind of ties in with the contrast between the book and the movie.


Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Did you know Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang: The Magical Car was the first (and only) children’s book written by the world renowned Ian Fleming. Yep, the same guy that wrote the James Bond books! Very few people know that the kid’s movie was based on the book that Ian Fleming wrote, but it’s very different from the original. The novel was about an inventor who built a magical car (that’s the same), but in the book, he works with Scotland Yard to help catch criminals and brings his family along on the adventures. The movie focuses on Dick Van Dyke as an inventor who tries (and fails) to mass-produce the candy Toot Sweets. He ends up building a magical car instead, as you do! While quite different from each other, it feels a bit like the movie came before the book, like a prequel.


Blade Runner

Ridley Scott absolutely hated the term “android” which made it quite difficult when adapting Philip K Dick’s book Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? into a movie. The androids were changed into ‘replicants, ’ and pretty much the entire subplot based around animals was removed; although there were several hat tips to that during the movie. While it doesn’t really seem like the book it was based on anymore, it still manages to retain the unique style and atmosphere that made Dick’s book such a prolific one. It’s said that the author did see some of the movie before it was released and before he died, which he gave his approval of.


The Spy Who Loved Me

Back to Ian Fleming! While many of the Bond movies have definitely been changed quite a lot compared to the books, The Spy Who Loved Me is perhaps the most obvious. Fleming was disappointed with this Bond novel, as critics and readers hated it. He, therefore, asked that if it was going to be turned into a movie, it should be entirely different from the book itself. The 1977 movie of The Spy Who Loved Me thankfully had a non-identical plot and wasn’t filmed in the first person style that it was written in either. Luckily, that was the right decision, as it soon went on to become one of the best-received Bond movies ever.


The next time you’re worried that the movie you’re about to see isn’t going to be as good as the book, count your lucky stars if the plot is at least the same! There are plenty of directors bending the rules (like why is Girl on The Train now set in the US and not London?!), but at least the premise is still the same. Most of the time.