The Beach : How Does It Compare To The Novel?

How Does It Compare To The Novel?

I just finished reading the novel by Alex Garland, and I was wondering whether this was actually worth the watch, and how it compares to the book. Because just by looking at the score, it seems to me that it can't be as good, for the novel was pretty damn brilliant. Still, is it worth a watch?

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It compares poorly, to be frank. While there are some scenes that are wonderfully brought to life (Richard seeing the beach for the first time to the sounds of Moby's Porcelain, for instance), the fact is they're mostly visual, and the adaptation itself is poor. How you can even consider cutting out the character of Jed entirely is beyond me, not enough of Richard's love of things like war movies is established, so his slide into madness is too sudden because you never feel he already carried a pre-existing fascination with being on the edge, and actually realising the attraction between Francois and Richard in a love scene makes it half as powerful... I could go on. I'm not saying it's not an interesting enough watch, but it pales in comparison to the novel.

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Yeah I just finished watching it. I think it was an enjoyable film in its own right, but compared to the novel it was only average. I still cannot believe they cut out Jed.

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Re: How Does It Compare To The Novel?

In short,

The Movie is phenomenal (in it's parts), but the book is beyond Superb. I would say that besides the soundtrack, the book has the film in every category. The level of detail, the characters being fleshed out, the style of Garland, and of course the culture he uses, and don't forget Jed!

So, yes, the book beats it entirely~

Normality is incredibly weird.

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I watched the movie first a couple years ago and thought it was good. I just now finished the book and now I have to say the movie definitely sucks compared to the book.
Here are the 5 biggest differences between the movie and book.

1) In the book, Richard is English and Sal is American.

2) In the movie, there is a romance between Richard and Francoise.
In the book, Richard has a big crush on Francoise the whole time, but they never hook up. Francoise loves Etienne throughout the whole story and is faithful to him. She knows Richard loves her and she kind of teases him every now and then.

3) In the book, Richard has many more hallucinations/dreams involving Daffy. Also in the book, he refers to him as Mr. Duck instead of Daffy.

4) As previously mentioned, the movie completely omits the character of Jed. This is ridiculous, as he was one of the main charactes in the book.

5) The biggest change is the ending. The ending of the book is MUCH more powerful/shocking/disturbing. The ending of the movie is EXTREMELY tame by comparison. This is definitely my biggest complaint with the movie.

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The ending in the book is way better. It is a shame they didn't translate this to the screen. It would have made a strong ending.

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I loved the book but thought the movie was awful.

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I saw the movie, loved it... it seemed to resonate something inside me about travel and adventure, so i read the book and of course the movie doesn't quite measure up but how many do? I then made plans to visit Thailand and see as many sites as possible from the movie, and I did, and many even more fantastic spots...

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The book is way way better. Im a big fan of Danny Boyle as a director but i can understand why he says he is not proud of The Beach. There is no way the Jed character should have been left out of the movie and not enough time was spent showing the influence of Mr Duck on Richard and his slow slide into insanity. Richards character is too flashy and arrogant in the movie, completely opposite to the Richard in the book. Its still very watchable but not half as good as the book which i think is genius. I have yet to see a movie adaptation of a book that was better than the book itself.

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Ultimately, you just need to watch the movie and read the book and make up your own mind. Theyr'e different, of course. I think they're both good but in this case the book is much better. The movie is still worth a see, though.

As far as movies better then the book: Bladerunner is much better than "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" by a long shot.

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Re: How Does It Compare To The Novel?

mrkpukrs, I was thinking the same thing. Bladerunner was much better than the book. Other instances where the movie was better (or at least as good) are Fight Club, Clockwork Orange, and Minority Report. Really, any PKD novel made into a movie was better.

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I'd add The Shining to that list, Kubrick again.

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Don't forget Forrest Gump. Forrest Gump "the movie" is much better then the silly novel...

and yeah, I just read the "The Beach" and it's so much better then the movie. The ending in the novel is much more powerfull. Richard and Francois never hook up, which makes them much more realistic. Jed was a very cool charachter in a novel, but was ommited from the movie. Richard never went so openly crazy in the novel (he was just kind of talking a lot in his head with daffy). He was never ostracized and exiled from the communty and was actually a very popular member in the community and had very decent relationship with Sal. That's my main beef with the movie - in the end Richard was portrayed to much as a crazy outcast and there was to little everday "beach life".

Movie fell apart when Richard and Francois hook up. Up unil then it really had "The Beach - The novel" flair.

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no way, I disagree. Paycheck, Next and The Adjustment Bureau were terrible movies. All written by PKD

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Despite the obvious lack of Jed (why?!?) theres a few other character issues:

Bugs is nowhere near as repugnant or punchable as in the book. That was the whole point of him-you got rhe feeling Sal and Bugs may have cast Daffy out because Bugs is so pretentious, and has to be the 'Big Man'. The brief scene he has where he tries to one-up Richards shark story was identical to the book, but wasnt enough to establish him. It made you wonder why Richard was so bothered how he'd react to his sleeping with Sal.

They wrote out the poisoning due to time restraints, and focused on the shark attack as the 'Paradise isnt Perfect' sevent in the film. Again, less of the relationship between Richard, Bugs, Sal, and the LACK of relationship with Francois.

The ending. This was relatively tame compared to the book, and there was no sense of the anarchy and mutiny of the book. When Richard opens an email from Francois, and you see there's one from Keaty, it seems perfectly logical that Sal, Bugs et all may conact him too. At the end of the book, this is what he doesnt NOT want to happen, and hopes both Bugs and Sal are dead.

The book is great, the film seems to be a poor imitation.

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I also love the sociological part of the book that doesn't happen in the movie.
i.e. richard's subltle fear of of being alienated from the group. Isay don't watch the movie, because the movie has kinda ruined me of this book. I've read the book twice before I SAw the movie, and tried to read it a third time but instead of imagining a picture beautifully painted by AG I just pictured the crap movie... ahhhhh the book is just so good. minus all the drug stuff, it may be my catcher.

"Freedom?This isnt about freedom If Im gonna get my balls blown off for a word,my word is poontang"

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It really annoyed me that they made Richard American and Sal English in the film. The studios should have more faith in American audiences and believe that characters don't have to be American for an American audience to empathise with them.

It also annoyed me that they had Richard sleep with both Francois and Sal. In the book there is a lot of sexual tension between Francois and Richard that is never acted on and is far more effective. And there is no sexual attraction between Richard and Sal whatsoever.

I don't like it when they make a adapt a book into a film and leave stuff out, but I understand why its necessary. But I get REALLY annoyed when they put new stuff like that in. They could have used that time to put more things from the book in. In short the Beach isn't a bad film, but the book is one of my all time favourites, and its a x100 better than the film.

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Totally agree. I saw the film when it came out at the cinema and I liked it. I have since read the book several times and after reading the book I feel VERY disappointed in the film.

Its on tv now which made me think of looking it up on here but I see people on these boards seem to share my opinion. I find the film quite difficult to watch now.

I ate a big red candle

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Ive seen the movie, but not read the book. For some reason though, I really like this movie, and have no idea why. I know its not one of the best movies by Boyle, but everything is so interesting and real. As in, theres nothing outlandish about this.

Now seeing that the book seems to be the better of the two, I fear if I read the book that I will spoil the movie. This is indeed a sticky situation.

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Re: How Does It Compare To The Novel?

The film compared to the book;

NEGATIVES:
- The opening of the book is rather thrilling, Daffy Duck is more terrifying and he spies on Richard through the wall. Richard pretends to be sleeping and is terrified that Mr. Duck will know he's actually awake. He goes to look through the hole in the wall but he's shocked to find Mr. Duck's eye staring back at him through the little hole. Mr. Duck also throws a burning joint into Richards room. They don't get friendly. In the film the rooms are partioned and they have a friendly chat over the top and share a joint. The book opening is much more edgy and sets the tone.

- Jed, a very important character in the book, is totally ommitted in the film. Jed was my favourite and I thought his personality and situation did a lot for the emotion and style of the book.

- They totally sexed up the film, in the book Richard doesn't have sex with Francois (or Sal) but in the film they make a romance out of Richard and Francois.

- After moving out of the Island, Richard only keeps touch with Keat. He think he'll bump into Francois and Etienne again one day because 'Europe is small'.

POSTIVES:
- The soundtrack and cinematography really did bring the style of the book alive.

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I loved the sheer brilliance of the book, it had me hook, line and sinker. I was so looking forward to the movie because of my love of the book and boy was I disappointed. The movie was a tremendous let down on all levels for me.

What's that screaming? A good many dramatic situations begin with screaming...

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I'm glad to see that the general consensus here is that the book far outrates the film. I too saw the film first upon its release and loved it, became even a little obsessed with it for a while, so I had to read the book ASAFP. When I did the film was completely blown apart as the tragic mess I now consider it to be, more so now I've read the book about five times.

Why oh why did they come up with a plot that had our *American* Richard sleeping with Francoise *and* Sal?!!! Richard doesn't even have sex in the book. He is attracted to Francois from the moment he see's her with Ettiene in Bangkok and throughout the book he becomes quite obsessed with her, even including her in his many fantasies. But Sal? Where did they come up with this? Who comes up with this? Sal didn't even go on the "rice run" with Richard, it was he and Jed who went and discovered Zeph and Sammy were following Richard's trail, hence how they forged a friendship/partnership that lasted beyond the beach. But no, they cut out Jed (one of the most interesting characters) and have Richard "cheat" on Francoise with Sal, who in the book was a slighty built American hippie (Tilda Swinton is far too sexy for that kind of role) whom he felt no attraction to whatsoever.

I saw someone mention that Danny Boyle is not proud of this movie. Rightfully so, whoever was behind the changes made should be taken to task. I also would be interested to know what Alex Garland made of this film which in my opinion turned his fantastic literary conception into a cinematic abortion.


The sleeper must awaken.

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I saw the movie long before I read the book, in cliche backpacker fashion I picked it up at a bookstore in Bangkok's Hua Lamphong train station after I had arrived from the overnight sleeper from Surat Thani. I had always loved the movie, and I needed a good book to read and thought 'The Beach' would fit the bill. I was in no way prepared for such an amazing book, I thought it would be very similar to the movie, but it burnt it in almost every regard. Alex Garland's writing is vivid and sharp, there is never any point in the book where you don't completely believe what is happening. I still have a soft spot for the movie, and I think they did some things very well. The whole shark attack scene, with the haunting music and the pan shots of the trails of blood was terrific. That scene really captured some of the essence of the novel. I also thought the intro scene of the movie was done quite well. They also did a great job of Richard going insane, with the scene of him stealing the soldier's AK and going on his hallucinatory video game adventure.

A lot of great scenes from the book were completely discarded though, it's a shame that sex sells in America because if that wasn't the case Jed would have been in the movie. The scene where Richard and Jed go to Koh Phangan for the rice run was surreal, I loved how they stumbled across the dead body and attempted to hide it behind a bush. I also liked how Richard looked at himself in the mirror and saw a completely different person look back at him. In the novel, when Jed and Richard are talking about the map was a lot more tense than in the film with Richard and Sal. The movie didn't have enough of Daffy flashbacks so by the time Richard goes insane and starts talking about Daffy, the viewer has no idea where it came from. Also the history of how Bugs, Sal and Daffy met while on a trek in Chang Ria and started the whole island thing was never mentioned in the movie, instead they replaced all that back story with some line about how Daffy was one of the first on the island, but then 'got sick'. The movie also had zero characterisation for Keaty, who was a major character in the novel and a great friend to Richard. In the movie he's portrayed as some suave, macho, black native guy who occasionally has some advice for Richard, nothing more. I wish they had of made his character more human; they should have made him better friends with Richard, and they needed to have the whole work shift drama that was in the book! What happened to the whole gardening duty in the sun and the fishing duty being a privilege, and Keaty poisoning the camp with the squid. *beep* the movie makes me angry when I think about it! But all in all I still enjoy it and I'm glad I watched it because otherwise I wouldn't have read the book and been completely floored by it. I read it in one day, I don't read books in one day often.

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I just watched the film for the first time, having avoided it previously. I've read the novel about 4 or 5 times, and I absolutely love it.

***** SPOILERS BELOW *****

NEGATIVES
- Characters all screwed up, Richard wasn't English or the seasoned traveller that he was in the book. In the film you got the impression that he was fresh off the plane and just eager to see the world, whereas in the novel he's this "been there, done that" kinda traveller who is looking for an adventure and not just a beer and a party like everyone else. Same for a multitude of other characters. Sal was made English for some reason, and while i'm not faulting Tilda Swinton (great actress), it really didn't feel right. Keaty was made into some religious cricket enthusiast for some reason, whereas in the novel he came across as being a slightly nerdy young guy with an infatuation with video games and joints. Patterson Joseph played him too loud and aggressive, I had him pictured as a much quieter and withdrawn person who is only really brought out of his shell and absorbed into the group by Richard.

- Didn't hate Bugs, in fact he was quite an inconsequential character. The mutual hatred of Bugs throughout sections of the camp drove the plot forward in the novel, but he had such little screentime in the film that his character was more of an afterthought.

- HATED the fact that Richard slept with Sal & Francoise in the film, when in the novel neither of those enounters happened. As one poster said above, Francoise is aware of Richard's infatuation with her in the novel, but is happy and in love with Etienne and just strings Richard along slightly. The fact that not only did Richard & Francoise sleep together, but that they then broke Francoise & Etienne up and THEN made Richard & Francoise a couple really pissed me off. As did Richard's absolutely pointless sex with Sal. Some might say that it was so Sal would keep Richard's secret, but personally I just think it's so that the producers could get a bit more flesh on the screen to draw in audiences. This story is NOT about sex, it's about love. Love for people and love for paradise.


POSITIVE
- Shark attack scene with the Swedes was executed really well I thought, no detail is given in the novel, only that you see the Swedes coming up into the camp from the beach in that state. Even if Karl disappeared from the film afterwards, they almost switched the lingering aftermath of the attack from Karl to Christo, with his sickness and subsequent mercy killing.


In conclusion, if you're a fan of the novel, give the film a wide berth. I mean really wide.

That was textbook.

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this was one of the worst adaptations i've ever seen.
i saw the movie a few years back and generally liked it and just finished the book today and figured i'd re-watch.
i couldn't even get through it. it was horrible.
every single character was off and they cut off a VERY important character, added in bs scenes, and cut fantastic ones.
not even worth watching, just go straight to the book.
my boyfriend loves this movie and i literally will make him read this book if it's the last thing i do.
ugh. i'm do disappointed. this had such potential. i'm glad i remembered nothing of the film while reading besides setting. that's the only thing that was even close to correctly adapted.

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I didn't like the movie.

My biggest irritation was them cutting out Jed that changed way too many facts. Sal never knew about the Germans knowing about the map, Richard wasn't an American. The ending was much more powerful in the book than the movie.

I didn't like the "Game Over" scene. Something about that scene just didn't pull me in the right direction. The book had a better description, but there are a few scenes that do match up to the book. Something about the way a lot of the scenes with Daffy irked me too.

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I have a lot to say, so this is very, very long.
I saw the movie first and, thought it was good up to a point. I didn't like that Richard takes Francoise from Etienne. I wasn't thinking 'Ah, he finally got the girl' I thought, 'Ok, she may like Richard now, but what about Etienne? You just stole his girlfriend, like you're not even going to think about this? you're just gonna have sex with her?' But when the shark attacks Richard, and all that, it got better, and probably my favourite bit in the movie, when they go to Kho Pha Ngang again, the reason I love this, is for two reasons: That if you were somewhere amazing like the beach, and came back to the 'real world' you would not find it as fun as you thought, And the message, that beautiful places can turn into loud, disgusting, awful places, and Richard sort of says, that if they told anyone about the beach it would turn into a place like that.
When Sal finds out that people know about the Island, she has sex with him... Ok, first of all, I think that's a stupid twist, it just makes you dislike Richards character for cheating on his new girlfriend who he stole from someone else, and when she finds out she gets pretty mad, even though she kinda did the same thing... anyway, when he starts to go crazy, if you haven't read the book, you won't have a clue what's going on, which is something big I think they left out, and could someone please explain why he eats a caterpillar?? I mean that's just random... I'm starting to dislike it, not a lot, but still. When it comes towards the ending, I start to like it again, I like how the farmer shows just how crazy they can all get, yes the ending of the book, probably would have been better, but that's not one of my dislikes to the movie, and I loved the very end, the line Richard says is very good. But back to the whole Richard Francoise thing, on the commentary Danny Boyle says the reason they had to be together was it's a movie, and that has to happen, I don't blame Danny Boyle for this, I blame the scriptwriter, John Hodge(I still like him though, I thought Shallow Grave was great). And the same for the Richard-Sal thing. Yes I agree with a lot of you, who are saying they shouldn't have left Jed out, I don't understand why they did that, since he was a very good character, but again isn't one of my dislikes to the movie. I think there should have been more hallucinations of Daffy, I loved those bits in the book. Bugs and Richard, it would have been interesting to see the tension between them... But what I love about the movie are: The music, score, and songs are amazing. The cinematography are also really good, and the story is very good, if you tell it to someone though, they probably won't be very interested. Richard's character although better in the book, is still very interesting. All in all I do really love this movie but since there are flaws in it I've planned to make an extended alternate version, with the worst things taken out and good deleted scenes added in, as well as a scene at the very start (like in the book), which describes Richard's obsessions. I am going to make a DVD first, (without selling) and if people like it, I will put it up on the Internet.
As I said I have alot to say, so sorry for this very long post.







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All in all, I agree that the novel is better than the movie. The movie is many flaws, but at the same time you gotta admit it's very watchable. And I thought there are quite a few bits that worked quite well:

- The soundtrack and cinematography, as mentioned by many of you.

- Leo DiCaprio as Richard, even though he wasn't an Englishman as he was in the book. He portrayed a lot of the reactions described in the book quite well.

- The romance with Francoise and the sex with Sal... somehow I found it odd that in the novel nothing like that ever happened. I thought Garland should have explored jealousy and sexual desires of the community. The movie went there (although rather clumsily, I thought).

- A couple of lines that the screenwriter made up and that aren't in the book, worked really well, like Richard's opening monolog about travelling or the "f--d in the head"-part with Duffy.

- The ending: while not as powerful as in the book, Sal having to actually pull the trigger was quite profound.


What didn't work at all for me:

- Bugs... totally underdevelopped character. They might as well have left him out.

- The video game sequence

- The way Etienne just accepts Francoise cheating on him

- Richard not helping Zeph and the others. In the book there's at least a bit of a struggle in the form of Mr. Duck asking him to help. In the movie, Richard just comes across like a dick.

- The final scene with Richard looking at the photo and smiling as if it had been the best time of his life. That kinda went against the whole message of the story.


"We learned more from a three minute record than we ever learned in school"

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I read the novel first and the movie ruined it for me for a while.

Things they ruined:
Richard's character - even though they made him American, they changed his personality too.

The Francoise romance - wrong on every level. To me, she just being out of reach was one of the contributing factors of his decline.

No Jed - the exclusion of the most important character in the book was the most fundamental flaw in this movie. They tried to merge his character in to Keaty and Sal, and and it didn't work.

"Well she turned me in to a newt!... I got better."

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Know its been a long time since you posted your original message but thought i would throw in my opinion. I thought the movie was dreadful. Loved the book and read ot in about 2 or 3 days. Di Caprio miscast as was Tilda Swinton. The computer scene in the movie always made me cringe. As many have said the ending change was utter rubbish also

i thought this was america? huh isnt this america, im sorry i thought this was america

Re: How Does It Compare To The Novel?

Between the novel and the book, there are some changes. But for me, I know why the ending in the book was not used. It worked well for the book but wouldn't have worked well in the movie.

Jed being cut I didn't like but I for one found the movie very good and one of DiCaprio's best performances. I would say Revolutionary Road was actually his best performance in my opinion but that is neither here or there.

The movie caught the essence of the book but wasn't as dark. I don't think that some of the islanders digging at the private areas of the dead stoners really would have worked. In the book, yes, but in the movie it would have been a turn off that really wouldn't have worked. Yes it showed that deep down all the islanders were savages but still. It wouldn't have worked in the movie. I just think it would have ruined the movie.

There was another movie that was translated from a Stephen King novella were I thought the ending of the movie was much better than in the movie. That movie was Apt Pupil. In the end of the book, Todd Bowden goes on a shooting spree and is killed. In the movie, he does something completely different and actually thought it was more powerful.

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Re: How Does It Compare To The Novel?

[spoilers] I think the movie is a total shame. What a cheap interpretation of the book, I prepared myself that the movie would be bad, but it was beyond bad. I like Leo in many of his other movies, but here he just doesn't pay off. His character is this beach boy with open shirt who sleeps with some girls in the camp. He's nothing like the troubled character Richard was in the book.

When I read the book I was totally in it, I read the last 200 pages in less than 24 hours, it was so exiting. The movie on the other hand is dull. I lost my respect for every character. I actually liked Sal in the book, but in the movie she lost her soul just by sleeping with Richard on the first occasion she had. She was a way more balanced character in the book (at least till a certain point), not a hippie chick. Her speeches impressed everyone in the book, I wasn't even mildly impressed by her in the movie. The tension she caused in the book is nowhere in the film. I couldn't believe the deal she made with Richard ("if you don't tell Bugs, I won't mention the map"), in the book it was of most importance that Sal never found out about that map.

What a character mess-up. I'm mad.
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