I have been thinking about doing this one for a while. I guess I always felt that there should be three books to really make the point effectively, and at times I have thought that Frankenstein should be the third, but I am not committing to it.
For now, there are two that especially bug me, and they bug me in specific ways. It is not that a favorite scene or character was dropped, or that they missed good parts; that is something that happens and is kind of necessary. In this case, it is that the movies miss the entire point of the books. I understand why it comes out that way. Suffice it to say, there are spoilers coming up.
The first is The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson. I should clarify that this is one of my favorite books. Well, it's more of a novella I guess - it's pretty short - but so gripping and well-written that I just adored it on the first read. I know other people have found it too dark to be enjoyable, but it just didn't have that effect on me.
If you are only familiar with the story from film and television adaptations, you probably think that Dr. Jekyll was trying to rid himself of his evil nature, and that not only did it fail, creating an alter ego with all of the evil qualities, but that he could not control it after trying it.
That's not how it happens in the book.
Dr. Jekyll likes doing bad things but does not like that his conscience bothers him. He wants to separate his two sides so they can both do as they like. That doesn't sound quite as noble, but it gets worse. He finds that while his Mr. Hyde form has no compunction about anything, and follows many of these evil impulses, his Jekyll side still wants to do the bad things.
Jekyll hasn't accomplished what he wanted, but since he does still like doing the bad things (despite pangs of conscience) he continues drinking the potion to turn into Hyde. It is only after repeated uses that he loses control. He could have stopped the whole thing once he found that it didn't work as intended, but again, he was not a noble man.
That may be part of why the movies change it. The protagonist as written isn't really sympathetic. Also, there are no love interests. The movies will often add two, one "bad" girl and one "good" girl, and then the bad girl usually ends up dead, though there are factors there that are probably part of another discussion, so lets just move on to The Time Machine, by H.G. Wells.
I think part of the problem with these adaptations is again the need for a love story. The time traveler saves Weena's life, and she's a female, he's a male; obviously they have to fall in love!
Except they can't have a real meeting of minds, because she is like a child. All of the Eloi are. Actually, they are more like cattle. Yes, the Morlocks eat the Eloi, which seems horrible and scary, but the Morlocks also provide shoes, clothing, and food for the Eloi. The Eloi were once the upper class, and had intelligence and abilities, but they were content to push the Morlocks underground, and give up all thought and effort until they were essentially cattle.
In the movies the solution is always to destroy the Morlocks, and then the Eloi can live in peace. Actually if the Morlocks were gone the Eloi would freeze and starve miserably, changing their placid lives that have just moments of terror to gradually increasing misery ending in death. At least cows can go on eating grass.
The Guy Pearce movie paid a little bit of service to the idea by having a computer that could teach the Eloi, but even though the Eloi were uneducated in that version, in the book they have devolved: incidents that happen don't go into long-term memory, their language is simplified, and they have physically shrunk. You can't fix that with a talking computer.
Besides which, the scales of justice are still imbalanced, because all the reckoning is on the side of the Morlocks, who have become savage, but were relegated to this savagery by the Eloi (or more accurately their ancestors). But the Eloi are prettier so they have to win, and let the crude and unattractive (and lower-class) be the monsters that must be destroyed.
Remember, speculative fiction may be set in the future, but it is talking about the present, and human nature being what it is, it will often still be sadly applicable to the present several years down the road.
Anyway, I've always wanted to get that off my chest. Also, we might be talking about economics and class in future posts.