Imagine you’re one of the lucky few people in this world who writes a book, gets it published, and it goes on to be such a big hit that Hollywood comes calling and turns it into a movie. Double the good luck, right? These authors who hated the film adaptations of their novels didn’t see it that way.
Stanley Kubrick wasn’t just a talented filmmaker, he had range — he made classics in genres like science-fiction (A Clockwork Orange), erotic thriller (Eyes Wide Shut), war (Platoon), and even horror (The Shining). That last one, in which Jack Nicholson starred as the winter caretaker of the Overlook Hotel who slowly loses his mind to dark forces, is widely regarded as one of the best and scariest scary movies ever made. One notable critic of the 1980 movie: Stephen King, author of the novel upon which The Shining is based. He loathed Kubrick’s take, once saying that the director “couldn’t grasp the sheer inhuman evil of the Overlook Hotel. So he looked, instead, for evil in the characters and made the film into a domestic tragedy with only vaguely supernatural overtones.” King much prefers the relatively obscure remake of The Shining made for ABC in 1997.
A Clockwork Orange
Anthony Burgess wasn’t pleased with a Kubrick adaptation of his work, but he at least shoulders part of the blame. He wrote A Clockwork Orange as a repudiation of violence and thuggery, but felt that the movie glorified its criminal characters’ appalling behavior. Burgess was so distraught over the film that he once said he “should not have written the book because of this danger of misinterpretation.”
The children’s novel about a kind spider and a humble pig is a tender, intimate, and transcendent story about the power of love, friendship, and sacrifice. It’s been adapted twice for the movies: a live-action version in 2006, and an animated one in 1973. It’s probably good that White died in 1985 and never saw the more recent film, because he didn’t much care for the first one. He thought it reduced his emotional story into commercial pabulum. “The story is interrupted every few minutes so that somebody can sign a jolly song,” White said. “I don’t care much for jolly songs.”
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Roald Dahl wrote many beloved children’s books, chief among them Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It’s a moving tale about a poverty-stricken kid who wins a “golden ticket” to visit the mysterious and magical factory run by eccentric chocolatier Willy Wonka, and then, eventually “all his dreams come true.” The story is told through young Charlie Bucket’s eyes. The classic 1971 film adaptation also focuses on Charlie…until he arrives at the factory, when it becomes the Gene Wilder show. Dahl didn’t like how the movie focuses on the candyman, nor did he like Wilder’s slightly dark and edgy characterization. He once said Wilder was “insufficiently gay,” meaning “happy.” Dahl also really hated that the movie was retitled Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.