Why I Like Classic Books in Movie Form

I confess that I’m not a big Dickens fan. I’ve read Great Expectations and Tale of Two Cities and attempted Oliver Twist. So I watched The Old Curiosity Shop on PBS Masterpiece Theater last night thinking it might surprise me. Well, it didn’t. But it did confirm why I prefer to take a lot of my classics as movies.

1. They take a ginormous book and condense it into an hour and a half! Is this always a good thing? No. For instance, no movie version of Pride & Prejudice will ever replace the novel for me. But for a story I have little interest in, they hit the highlights and sometimes that’s enough.

2. They save you the aggravation of wading through hundreds of pages of wordy superfluous narrative only to be irritated at the end. Yes, Daniel Deronda, I’m talking to you.

3. Sometimes they even make improvements. I love North & South by Elizabeth Gaskell but the ending left something to be desired. The movie (with Richard Armitage!) totally made up for it. I even like the movie better than the book sometimes. And I emphasize sometimes. Who knew?


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