Proof: Book vs. Movie

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Sometimes (ok, most of the time) it's incredibly disappointing to watch a movie after reading the book. I recently read the play Proof and then watched the movie and the differences between the two were so frustrating.
I might spoil some things from the play Proof here, so fair warning.
The beauty of the play lies in its moments of ambiguity. You have to work out for yourself whether you think the main character wrote a brilliant mathematical proof or if it was her mathematician father, who's mentally unstable.
The movie, on the other hand, adds scenes that make everything obvious. It lays everything out so there's no need to work for it. The play makes the viewer question the characters' sanity and who we can trust. The film asks nothing from the viewer. You're left asking no questions and you need no faith, it gives you all the "proof" you need.
If I saw the movie without seeing the play or reading the book first (or both in my case) I probably would have liked it. It's wonderfully acted and still retains the excellent dialogue from David Auburn's Pulitzer-Prize winning play, but it pales in comparison with the original.
Have you guys had any similar experiences?


Natalie~Coffee and a Book Chick said...

I am one of the ones who haven't read the play but I have seen the movie -- and I really did like it a lot. But, having not read the play, I'd have a hard time liking the movie too, like you. One thing that is always tough for me also is watching a film so soon after I read the book -- I try to wait at least a month before watching the film because I end up fighting with myself on trying to figure out why they had to change things and what the differences were. Too frustrating!

Teacher/Learner said...

I agree that movie adaptations are rarely better or even equal to the original books. Case in point: The Time Traveler's Wife. The movie seemed like the Coles Notes for the book. I haven't read Proof but saw the movie & it was just okay for me.

TexasRed said...

I usually prefer the book, but didn't know this movie was originally a play!

Don't know if you're interested in this stuff, but I gave you a blog award on my page today TexasRed Books. Hopefully it'll introduce your space to a new reader.

Jeanne said...

I think I'll skip this movie--what I heard about the play makes me think I'll just wait to see it. What's the fun of "proof" without ambiguity?

This is a silly example, but the movie of The Little Mermaid lets her have legs without a price, whereas in the Anderson story she feels a pain like knives every time she takes a step.

I like the ending of the movie of The Firm better than the ending of the book. But maybe that's just because it's Grisham, not great literature!

Ana S. said...

It's a pity the film was a let down, but I really want to read the play. A fellow book blogger actually recommended it to my recently because it deals with the same themes as the Rosalind Franklin biography I reviewed a few weeks ago. I'm definitely in the mood for more in that vein, so I'll try to get a hold of the play soon.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Coffee - I even waited a few months before watching the movie, still frustrating.

Texas Red - Thank you so much!

Nymeth - Can't wait to hear what you think about the play.

Anonymous said...

The reason a viewer gets no ambiguity from proof the movie is because this is from a readers perspective Madden is the one who read it and that's how he felt he was the one who made the decision instead of the book where the reader gets to make the decision

I can't think of a book to movie one so I'll say a foreign film to American one. Let the right one in is much better than the less ambiguous American version let me in. I don't want to spoil either films for anyone though.