Books that have film Adaptations

The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough

I really don’t know what to say about this book, so I’ll just dive straight in under three titles: ‘the good’, ‘the bad’ and the ‘ugly’. But firstly, I first came across the film (TV drama, natch.) because I’d seen Richard Chamberlain play the comic role of Prince Edward in Slipper and The Rose. But TTB the book and film have a reputation all their own (spoilers below.)

It’s basically the story about the enduring romance between a lonely (well, that’s what I think) Australian girl who lives on the Drogheda homestead, and a troubled priest. In this post, I’ll be talking about both the book and the film…

  • The GOOD

The book definitely paints a vivid portrait of the way of life that had to exist. The characters have back stories which is always a good thing. And it has a happy ending. And this book is all about torment, and not just the torment of the two main characters. In the movie, it was good to see that Justine and Meggie made up in the end. The barn reconciliation scene has always made me think about the passage of time but was missing from the book. Ah, well, the joys of screenplay. And lastly, the whole metaphor of taking from the church (in this case, having the child of a priest who is supposed to take vows of poverty, chastity etc) and having to give that child back is certainly thought provoking.

  • The BAD

Meggie clearly has serious daddy issues (why else would she be falling in love with a priest, trying to find someone else to fill that father figure role for her?) and her naiveté as a child and young woman is amusing to a 21st century audience. Her pining for Ralph is boring and repetitive, like wading through treacle and getting nowhere (well, it does get somewhere, but that’s not the point!)

  • The UGLY

Where do I begin? In the film, the costume person must’ve been taking a 100 year coffee break because its incredibly off-putting to see a woman wearing 1920s fashion but with a 1970s hairstyle. I know its only a small thing, but it was incredibly off-putting. The role of Father Ralph is the role that Richie Chamberlain has been known for but it must’ve killed his career (it seems that all he did from then on were a motley collection of TV movies.) and the characters were aged poorly in the movie. I don’t think that there was anything particularly bad about the book, so I’ll finish my movie bashing here.

I really wouldn’t have read the book or watched the film if not driven by curiosity. It’s broadcast on the True Movies every two minutes, and there it shall stay. I can only plead boredom. The metaphor of the thorn bird is a boring cliche.



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