10 movie scenes better than their book counterparts

2022 has been rich in book-to-film adaptations, so far, with more to come, including the big-screen adaptation of Where the Crawdads sing set to release on Netflix in July 2022 and a new Percy Jackson adaptation along the way. And as long as there have been movies based on books, there have been people to remind everyone that the book was better. Not all films do this, but there have been quite a few adaptations that have rivaled their source material.

In some special cases, the movies have even managed to outperform their books, either entirely or for just one big scene. That’s not to say those scenes in the book were bad, but in those instances the movie managed to top them.


The iconic Rorschach line: Watchmen

Watchmen's Rorschach in prison

watchmen is easily one of the best and most iconic graphic novels ever written. Zach Snyder’s adaptation was fairly faithful to the source material but received mixed reception. There’s one scene that manages to top its comic book panel, and it’s Rorschach’s immortal line “I’m not locked in here with you, you’re locked in here with me.”

Amazingly, in the graphic novel, Rorschach is never shown saying the line. He is instead quoted by his psychiatrist later in a conversation with his wife. In the film, however, Jackie Earl Haley is able to deliver the line to the camera with all the might.

The Final Battle: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe

The Lion the Witch and the Centaurs of the Wardrobe

Compared to many fantasy novels, that of CS Lewis Chronicles of Narnia the books are much shorter and more succinct. The books are much more focused on Christian allegory than massive world-building, so many specific details are left to the reader’s imagination.

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This includes the final battle of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, which in the book lasts little more than a few sentences as opposed to the movie’s full-scale war. Both work in context, and the book’s more subtle approach may suit some people better, but it’s still great to see a group of fantastical creatures fighting for freedom on the big screen.

The Torture Scene: Casino Royale

Daniel Craig as Bond and Mads Mikkelsen as The Cipher in Casino Royale

The James Bond films have mostly left behind the original novels, but those from 2006 Casino Royale was actually based on the very first Bond novel. In both the book and the film, Bond is captured by the villain and tortured via a bottomless chair and a blunt instrument.

The scene in the film is fairly faithful to the book, but the moment feels even more visceral to be able to see and hear every shot in Bond’s nether regions. Daniel Craig also manages to add Bond’s trademark wit into the scene, keeping his spirits high through the excruciating pain. The scene in the book is already uncomfortable, but the movie manages to take it even further.

The end: the mist

An image of David Drayton crying in The Mist

It’s not often that an altered ending for the film is powerful enough to make the author of the original book says he wishes he had thought of it. This is however the case of the adaptation by Frank Darabont of Stephen King Mist. The novel ends on an ambiguous note, with the fate of the main character hanging in the balance.

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However, everyone knows the movie’s devastating ending. Trapped in a car with no chance of escape, the main character shoots his family and the others in the car, only to find that there are no more bullets for him. He wanders the Mist to meet his fate, only to be almost immediately rescued by the military. It’s an absolute punch of an ending, but fitting for a Stephen King adaptation.

Harry Takes His Wand: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Harry receiving his wand in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Both Harry Potter both the books and the movies are beloved by fans, and while the movies do a great job of bringing the story to life, it’s hard to say definitively which specific moments are better in the Harry Potter movies. But the moment in Sorcerer’s Stone when Harry first gets his wand, it’s even more fanciful on screen.

Both the book and the movie have Harry trying out a number of wands while Mr. Ollivander judges whether or not they’re right for him, but the movie adds funny little incidents with each misfired wand that adds more action to the scene. . Add to that the sheer excitement on Daniel Radcliffe’s face and the scene is delightfully magical.

Tears in the Rain: Blade Runner

sci-fi classic blade runner is very loosely based on the novel by Phillip K. Dick Do androids dream of electric sheep? The premise is the same, with Detective Deckard hunting down the rogue replicants, but the book and film explore different underlying themes.

Roy Batty is the main villain of the book and film – the leader of the replicants who tries to extend his rapidly ending lifespan. In the book, Roy is simply shot by Deckard at the end. In the film, however, Roy receives a poignant sendoff. After saving Deckard’s life, Batty delivers a stunning monologue about the fleeting nature of life before willingly succumbing to his age. It’s a beautifully acted moment that has gone down in science fiction history.

The Death of Jan Edgecomb: The Green Line

Tom Hanks in The Green Line

The film The green Line is about as perfect for the book as it is for the film adaptations. The characters are perfectly acted out and many of the story beats are brought to life in fantastic detail. One of the few differences from the source material is how the film deals with the death of lead character Paul Edgecomb’s wife, Jan.

Paul is cursed to an abnormally long life after being cured by John Coffey, and in the film he describes how difficult it was to survive Jan. The book, however, adds a closing scene in which Jan is killed in a horrific bus accident. The unsettling graphic description would suit any other Stephen King work, but in a more emotional story like The green Line, it just seems a little too much.

The entire third act: the children of men

children of men

Alfonso Cuarón’s masterpiece children of men is very loosely based on a book titled children of men by PD James. Although several characters and the overall plot are the same, many story beats are very different. In particular, the entire third act differs from the book.

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The book ends with a personal but small-scale gunfight, while the film’s final act is a massive set that shows just how much cinema can achieve. The climax follows the two leads through a city-wide battle fully captured in one shot before the two warring sides temporarily cease fire as they hear the cry of the first baby in 18 years. It’s a powerful and beautiful moment in an otherwise dark film.

The Shower Scene: Psycho

Janet Leigh screams in the shower scene in Psycho.

Just to be clear, Robert Bloch’s original shower murder psychology novel is still quite unsettling. Sadly, the scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s infamous film is one of the most recognizable scenes in movie history.

Although the moment is very brief in the book, the violence of the murder was actually toned down for the film. Despite this, the scene served as a landmark in on-screen violence. The combination of Hitchcock’s direction, score, visuals, and shocking nature of the scene managed to overshadow the book almost completely.

Brooks Was There: The Shawshank Redemption

James Whitmore as Brooks in The Shawshank Redemption

Give Frank Darabont a Stephen King story and great things happen. His best adaptation of a work by Stephen King is in the legendary The Shawshank Redemption. The film is based on a short story and was able to develop the characters and events much more. especially with the nice librarian, Brooks Hatlen.

In the short story, Brooks is a very minor character who is paroled and lives a solitary life before dying of old age. In the film, Brooks’ journey from prison is shown in a devastating montage where he realizes that the world he knew when he went to prison no longer exists, and he ends up killing himself. Brooks’ story is a demonstration of the dangers of institutionalization that is even more touching than in the book.

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