I rarely see a movie and then read the book it was based on. It’s usually the other way around. If I know a film is based on a book. I’ll read the book first. That way, when the film comes out, I’ll be able to see how the screenwriters adapted the story — a process that fascinates me.
But Ella Enchanted is an exception. I saw the movie starring Anne Hatheway a few years ago but read the book only a few days ago. Boy was I suprised. The book is nothing like the film. This is a loose adapation if there ever was one.
And I was relieved to see that everything that I found annoying about the movie was not in the book.
This isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy the movie. I did. But had the screenwriters been a little more faithful to the original story, the film would have been all the more entertaining.
For example, Cary Elwes character. Not in the book. The secret plot to assasinate the prince. Not in the book. The fairie with an attitude. Not in the book. Ella’s solo at the giant wedding. Not in the book (although I was thrilled when I saw the movie to learn that Anne Hathway can sing).
In fact, the movie skips what is the most important angle of the story: that this is the retelling of a very famous fairy tale. Watch the movie and one would assume that this is simply a silly fairy tale invented entirely by the author, not one based a pre-existing story.
Read the book and you’ll realize what a wonderful and inventinve writer Gail Carson Levine really is. She took a well told (and somewhat bland story) and turned it into something magical.