Movies that Changed to Book so Much, the Title Makes no Sense

I was surprised to learn, on this Board, that the novel Freedomland actually did have something to do with the circa 1960 theme park (the largest in the US at its time – bigger than Disneyland). You never would have guessed it from the movie, which never mentions it, and IIRC they transferred the name to the ruined institution they end up searching for the lost kid in.

Similarly, I understand that Stephen King’s Hearts in Atlantis has some other meaning than what ends up in the mvie – a carnival game of “Hearts”. Apparently, they had to add that so the movie title would make some sense.

(I haven’t read the books in these two cases, myself.)

Are there any other cases? Or cases where it’s never made clear what the title means (and if you could tell us, I’d appreciate it). I might be wrong, but I don’t recall the movie To Kill a Mockingbird explaining what the title signifies. But it’s in the book.

The worst case of this - IMO - has got to be Lawnmower man. The Stephen King short story is about a gnomish creature that mows a guys lawn in the buff. The movie by the same name is about virtual reality and a person of lesser intelligence ‘algernizing’ himself and subsequently falling to the dark side.

Whups, I misread the purpose of this thread…ma bad…

Not a movie BUT at least one stage version (which I was in) of THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS. No scenes of Little Otter protected by Pan, or the sound of the Panpipes being made by TWITW at all. Instead, Little Otter is kidnapped by the Weasels (of which I was one) who take over Toad Hall, and of course is rescued by Toad & Friends.

Hey, Meatros, I think your entry is completely in line with what I was asking.

The meaning of A Clockwork Orange is never explained in the movie, though the book does (it refers to something that looks natural, but is mechanical, like Alex’s “reformation”).

Not a book, but the meaning of the title of Sorceror is never explained and probably is very misleading. (It’s the name of Roy Scheider’s truck; the name can be seen, but no one uses the word).)

Hearts in Alantis was exactly what I thought of, yet oddly I can’t remember what all significance it had in the book.

If I remember correctly, “To Kill a Mockingbird” refers to something Atticus told the kids about how the only thing a mockingbird does is sing and to kill it would be a sin (I think they were playing with a gun?)

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  1. The characters – college students – spend months playing a running game of hearts in their dorm, to the neglect of their studies.

  2. The America of the mid-'60s is a society and culture different enough from what we have now that it seems like a mysterious lost civilization, like Atlantis. This point is made explicitly several times.

Ah yes, now I remember. Thanks, BrainGlutton.

Atlantis was IIRC the name of the dorm.

For another example, how about “I, Robot”? The only thing that movie had in common with the literary source was the name. Oh, and that there were robots.

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex (But Were Afraid to Ask) took just the title of the book and a few lines from it to base skits on.

Okay, now we’re wandering far from the intent of the OP. I don’t deny that plenty of these are cases of stories getting masively changed, but I was looking for cases where the change was so huge that the title didn’t apply or make sense (or, alternatively, was never explained). I, Robot is still about robots, even if it’s groteqsquely different from the book. Starship Troopers is still about Starship Troopers, even if the movie’s a butchered version of the book. Creator still makes sense, even though its creator changed it so completely.
But Hearts in Atlantis was changed so much from the book that they apparently had to invent a scene to explain the title.

The Secret of NIMH. The name isn’t exactly the same as the book - Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, but it’s close enough - the important part is NIMH - the National Institute of Mental Health. The original story was mainly about a bunch of lab rats at NIMH made to become intelligent enough that they taught themselves to read and thus escaped their lab (after reading the instructions to open the cages) and built a society for themselves outside.

The movie adds a mysticism to the story, which completely destroys the cool sci-fi aspect of the book. Plus they anthropomorphized the characters to the point where it was no feat at all that the rats could read or construct or do anything people could do. Then they turned the best part of the story - the back story involving the experiments and the gradual raising of intelligence, to the lessons in the alphabet that lead finally to the rats reading their way out of captivity - into a quick flashback that showed the narrator’s human like arm reaching for the lever. Oh, and there was a sword fight. NIMH might as well not existed at all - they should have just called it the Brisby and the Mystical Rats of Nymh, Nymh being the name of a rat ancestor, or something…

I watched that the other week - after I’d read the book with my son - and was amazed to discover that it was voiced, back in about '82, by Shannon Doherty, Will Wheaton, Derek Jacobi and John Carradine.

Yeah, the movie had almost no relation to the book: and Jenner was not a villain; he was only depicted in the NIMH backstory, and he left peaceably before the main events of the story because he thought The Plan was suicidally quixotic.

Unfortunately the only one I can think of at this time is the Disney version of Alice because they combined two books into one movie and cut out a lot of good bits and confused the hell out of everyone else by giving the movie the title of the first book. I hated that movie so much and now it has just led to everyone believing that is actually how the book goes and all subsequent movie versions have been inaccurate.

But I guess that doesn’t exactly fit does it?

Jurassic Park: The Lost World and Frankenstein (1931 Movie) were both somewhat liberal interpretations. The Lost World didn’t have much choice, since the first movie had already modified many of the events from the book.

Still, I think they were justified in keeping the titles.

I had a look along my bookshelf to see if I could find any more, but I was only reminded of that Simpons episode where they butcher “A Streetcar Named Desire”


Wouldn’t the Neil Diamond version of “The Jazz Singer” have been better named “The Pop Singer” Not sure if this fits the category, though, as it was a remake of another movie - not sure if it was a book. I don’t recall hearing any jazz, though.