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15 Books With Completely Different Movie Endings

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So you read the book before you saw the movie. Congrats! Unfortunately—as these examples prove—that doesn't always make you an expert on what, exactly, is going to unfold on the big screen. (It should go without saying, but this article contains spoilers—lots of them. You've been warned!)

1. Jurassic Park


Jurassic Park, 
one of the most popular summer blockbusters of all time, doesn't completely line up with the events described in Michael Crichton's best-selling novel of the same name. At the end of the book, the Costa Rican military comes to the rescue by bombing Site A on Isla Nublar. But director Steven Spielberg felt like changing it up. Instead of a military intervention, Spielberg decided to have the T. Rex return to save the protagonists from a Velociraptor attack. "I think the star of this movie is the T. Rex," Spielberg explained at the time. "The audience will hate me if the T. Rex doesn't come back for one more heroic appearance."

The book and movie's body counts vary, too. By the end of the novel, John Hammond has died, and it is implied that Ian Malcolm has as well. Both survive in the movie. On the other hand, the park's game warden, Robert Muldoon, and IgGen's attorney, Donald Gennaro, perish in the big screen adaptation, but live on in the book. 

2. Planet of the Apes


Planet of the Apes
features one of the most iconic twist endings in movie history: Astronaut George Taylor (played by Charlton Heston) discovers he has been marooned on a post-apocalyptic Earth the entire time. But in La Planète des Singes, the French novel it is based on, the main character—journalist Ulysse Merou—lands on a different planet during the course of his travels, one inhabited by self-aware apes, sentient monkeys, and tribes of dimwitted humans. When Ulysse finally makes it back to Earth, he is shocked to learn that it is now 700 years in the future, and that a similar hierarchy has emerged at home. 

Twilight Zone creator Rod Serling, who co-wrote the film's screenplay, was the one who ultimately decided to make the planet of the apes Earth in the distant future. 

3. A Clockwork Orange

Stanley Kubrick based his screenplay on the shortened American version of the British novel by Anthony Burgess. This telling omitted the final chapter of the book, focused on Alex after he is rehabilitated. Though he grows out of his murderous tendencies in Burgess' text, in Kubrick's interpretation, Alex remains as psychotic as ever. Kubrick didn't like the tale's original ending; he felt it was entirely too optimistic given the story's tone and themes. "I think whatever Burgess had to say about the story was said in the book,” Kubrick said. “But I did invent a few useful narrative ideas and reshape some of the scenes." 

Burgess was not a fan of the final product. "The book I am best known for, or only known for, is a novel I am prepared to repudiate: written a quarter of a century ago," Burgess later recalled. "It became known as the raw material for a film which seemed to glorify sex and violence. The film made it easy for readers of the book to misunderstand what it was about, and the misunderstanding will pursue me until I die."

4. Fight Club

The film version of Fight Club remains faithful to author Chuck Palahniuk's original plot—until the very end, that is. The movie version wraps up as the narrator, standing beside Marla, watches a series of explosions caused by his now-absent alter ego, Tyler Durden. At the end of the book, however, the narrator wakes up in recovery from his gunshot wound. He thinks he's in heaven, but Palahniuk makes it clear that he's actually in a mental institution. Several hospital attendants ask him when he's going to start Project Mayhem again, inferring that Tyler Durden is still very much a part of him.

Director David Fincher explained his choice by arguing that the book was too devoted to the narrator's alter ego: "[I] wanted people to love Tyler (Durden), but I also wanted them to be OK with his vanquishing." 

5. The Scarlet Letter

Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel The Scarlet Letter is an exploration of guilt, punishment, and mob mentality in 17th-century New England. At the end of the classic tale, the townspeople persecuting Prynne learn that the father of her baby is Reverend Dimmesdale, who eventually dies from immense guilt.

The 1995 film version of The Scarlet Letter opted instead for a happy Hollywood ending (read: no one dies). Instead, Reverend Dimmesdale and Hester Prynne leave their town in order to build a new life together.

6. Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Truman Capote's beloved novella was also given a simplified and sanitized Hollywood ending. In the book, Holly Golightly loses her cat and abandons New York for Argentina—it's unclear where the free spirit will end up next. The movie, on the other hand, ends with Audrey Hepburn's Holly reuniting with Cat and sharing a passionate kiss with neighbor Paul. (There's no romance between them in Capote's version.) 

Capote wasn't a fan of the movie based on his work, nor of the casting of Audrey Hepburn. "I had lots of offers for that book, from practically everybody," Capote said in an interview. "And I sold it to this group at Paramount because they promised things, they made a list of everything, and they didn't keep a single one."  

7. My Sister's Keeper

Jodi Picoult's My Sister's Keeper tells the story of a young leukemia patient named Kate, whose parents conceive another daughter, Anna, in order to have an organ donor for their firstborn. When she turns 13, Anna is asked to donate one of her kidneys to her dying sister. She refuses and sues her parents for medical emancipation. 

In the book, Anna gets into a terrible car accident, and her kidneys are posthumously harvested for Kate, who survives. But for the 2009 adaptation, director Nick Cassevetes chose to reverse the sisters' fates. Kate ends up succumbing to her illness after she refuses to accept her sister's organs. Cassevetes believed his movie's ending was more accurate after he visited pediatric hospitals and talked to terminally ill patients. 

"Going and visiting people in the hospital, this story repeated over and over and over again," Cassevetes told About.com. "In reality, none of these stories ended like the book did." 

8. The Mist

Stephen King's The Mist ends on a vague note—a few survivors head towards the source of a mysterious radio transmission as the titular mist creeps around them. But director Frank Darabont decided to give the film a more definitive—and more gut-wrenching—conclusion. David, played by Thomas Jane, comes to realize that the group's survival efforts are futile. To prevent any further suffering, he kills the remaining survivors, including his son, just before the military shows up to inform him that the situation is now under control. 

"How primitive do people get?" Darabont said of his new ending. "It's Lord of the Flies that happens to have some cool monsters in it." King, for his part, gave the new ending two thumbs-up: "The ending is such a jolt—wham! It's frightening. But people who go to see a horror movie don't necessarily want to be sent out with a Pollyanna ending."  

9. The Lorax

At the end of Dr. Seuss' The Lorax, the tale's Once-ler gives the boy the last-ever Truffula seed in the hopes that he'll be able to grow a new forest. But there's no room for ambiguity in the story's 2012 cartoon version: Before the credits roll, new Truffula Trees are flourishing and The Lorax has returned to the forest. 

10. Red Alert

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, based on Peter George's Red Alert, takes a comedic approach to the source material. Instead of narrowly avoiding a nuclear catastrophe at the zero hour (like the book does), Stanley Kubrick decided to blow up the world because of some petty bickering. 

Originally, Kubrick planned to have everyone in the situation room get into a big pie fight. But "I decided it was farce and not consistent with the satiric tone of the rest of the film," he said.

11. Forrest Gump

There are some pretty major differences between Forrest Gump's book and film versions. Though the movie ends with Jenny's death and shows Forrest raising their child alone, the book wraps up with Forrest starting up his own shrimp business, in memory of his college friend Bubba. (Another key difference: in Winston Groom's book, Jenny survives, but marries another man and has his child.) 

"[Screenwriter] Eric Roth departed substantially from the book,” Zemeckis told the Chicago Tribune. “We flipped the two elements of the book, making the love story primary and the fantastic adventures secondary. Also, the book was cynical and colder than the movie. In the movie, Gump is a completely decent character, always true to his word. He has no agenda and no opinion about anything except Jenny, his mother, and God."  

Groom believed that the movie "took some of the rough edges off" his beloved character. In fact, he was so unhappy with the film that he started the book's sequel, Gump and Co., with Forrest telling readers, "Don't never let nobody make a movie of your life's story."

12. Who Censored Roger Rabbit?

Who Censored Roger Rabbit?, the inspiration for Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, is a surprisingly dark murder mystery. In the novel, Roger hires Detective Eddie Valiant to figure out why Rocco DeGreasy, the man who has the cartoon rabbit under contract, hasn't given him his own comic strip. During Valiant's investigation, Roger Rabbit is murdered and his wife Jessica is framed. Valiant spends the rest of the story trying to figure out who killed Roger. (The book ends with the revelation that a mysterious genie is the culprit.)

Although there's still a murder at the center of the 1988 movie version—this time, Toontown owner Marvin Acme is the victim—Disney and Touchstone Pictures gave the entire story an overhaul when the company acquired the film rights from author Gary K. Wolf. The studios hoped to make a family-friendly blockbuster in order to rejuvenate their flagging animation department, and saw Who Censored Roger Rabbit? as a means to that end.

13. I Am Legend

In 2007, Will Smith starred in author Richard Matheson's I Am Legend as Dr. Robert Neville, the sole survivor of a worldwide plague that turns humans into infected, vampire-like creatures. 

The book ends with Dr. Neville, who spends his days slaying the infected to protect himself, learning that he's considered a monster to the creatures who are now the dominant race on the planet. He's imprisoned and later executed for his crimes. In the movie, however, Neville solidifies his hero status by handing off a cure for the virus ravaging the planet to a healthy woman and boy. An alternate ending that showed more interaction between Neville and the creatures was shot, but the filmmakers opted to go with an ending in which Will Smith sacrifices himself for the sake of the human race.

14. First Blood

The first Rambo movie is based on the novel First Blood by author David Morrell. The book and the movie both tell the story of a troubled Vietnam War vet, but the book ends with his death after a violent showdown with Chief Teasle. In the movie, Rambo and Teasle survive, and Rambo turns himself into the authorities.

The reason for the change: Once again, early test audiences didn't approve of the original ending, and wanted to see Rambo live to fight another day. 

15. The Body Snatchers

The 1956 black-and-white classic, based on Jack Finney's The Body Snatchers, ends with protagonist Miles ranting and raving ("You're next!") along a busy highway of pod people and non-believers. But in the book, the titular body snatchers flee Earth after Miles discovers where their pods are grown and begins to set them on fire.

Though director Don Siegel and screenwriter Daniel Mainwaring were happy with their unsettling ending, the movie studio demanded a more hopeful outcome. To keep the bosses happy, the filmmakers added in a brief epilogue, during which the audience learns that local police had alerted national authorities to the presence of the space invaders. Sniffed Siegel, "The film was nearly ruined by those in charge at Allied Artists, who added a preface and an ending that I don't like." 

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Dan Bell
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Design
A Cartographer Is Mapping All of the UK’s National Parks, J.R.R. Tolkien-Style
Peak District National Park
Peak District National Park
Dan Bell

Cartographer Dan Bell makes national parks into fantasy lands. Bell, who lives near Lake District National Park in England, is currently on a mission to draw every national park in the UK in the style of the maps in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, Kottke.org reports.

The project began in September 2017, when Bell posted his own hand-drawn version of a Middle Earth map online. He received such a positive response that he decided to apply the fantasy style to real world locations. He has completed 11 out of the UK’s 15 parks so far. Once he finishes, he hopes to tackle the U.S. National Park system, too. (He already has Yellowstone National Park down.)

Bell has done various other maps in the same style, including ones for London and Game of Thrones’s Westeros, and he commissions, in case you have your own special locale that could use the Tolkien treatment. Check out a few of his park maps below.

A close-up of a map for Peak District National Park
Peak District National Park in central England
Dan Bell

A black-and-white illustration of Cairngorms National Park in the style of a 'Lord of the Rings' map.
Cairngorms National Park in Scotland
Dan Bell

A black-and-white illustration of Lake District National Park in the style of a 'Lord of the Rings' map.
Lake District National Park in England
Dan Bell

You can buy prints of the maps here.

[h/t Kottke.org]

All images by Dan Bell

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Internet Archive, Flickr // Public Domain
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History
How a Shoemaker Became America’s Most Controversial Mystic—and Inspired Edgar Allan Poe
Internet Archive, Flickr // Public Domain
Internet Archive, Flickr // Public Domain

Andrew Jackson Davis may not be a prominent figure now, but in the 19th century, he amassed a dedicated following that helped give rise to Spiritualism, a once-popular religion that believed in communicating with the dead. Davis used the teachings of a German doctor named Anton Mesmer to enter trance states that he claimed allowed him to see into space, the afterlife, other worlds, and even the human body. His metaphysical exploits earned him the nickname the “Poughkeepsie Seer,” and while frequently derided by his contemporaries, he inspired at least one well-known American writer: Edgar Allan Poe.

A HUMBLE SHOEMAKER

By all accounts, Davis had a fairly unremarkable childhood. He was born in Blooming Grove, New York, in 1826. His father, a shoemaker, was prone to drink, so Davis and his sister picked up odd jobs to support the family. Most of his schooling came from a then-popular program where teachers taught advanced students, who then taught one another. Ira Armstrong, a shoemaker/merchant he apprenticed under, later recalled that Davis's education “barely amounted to a knowledge of reading, writing and the rudiments of arithmetic.”

In the 1830s, Anton Mesmer’s teachings became popular in America thanks to several impassioned lecturers in New York and New England. Mesmer, who had found fame in Europe in the late 18th century, believed he could use magnets and his own touch to move “magnetic fluids” through the body, healing his patients of everything from the common cold to blindness. Though his theory of animal magnetism, as he called the existence of such fluids, was discredited by the French Academy of Sciences in 1784, medical professionals later became curious about Mesmer’s ability to manipulate his patients into altered mental states. Doctors—conventional or otherwise—studied the phenomenon of mesmerism, traveling across the country to demonstrate their findings.

It’s this mesmerist renaissance that first brought Davis into the public eye. In 1843, a Dr. James Stanley Grimes traveled to Poughkeepsie, New York, advertising his ability to induce trance states. Many Poughkeepsie residents attended the production—including Davis, although he wasn't entranced as advertised. The visit excited the community, especially a tailor and acquaintance of Davis's named William Levingston, who began dabbling in mesmerism himself. One day in early December, Levingston asked if he could mesmerize Davis, and he succeeded where Grimes had failed: Davis, while blindfolded, was able to read a newspaper placed on his forehead, and listed the various diseases of a group of witnesses.

Rumors soon swirled about Davis’s abilities. After that first session, Levingston mesmerized him nearly every day, and hundreds crowded into Levingston’s home to gawk at the spectacle. The sessions followed a pattern: Davis would enter a trance state and diagnose visitors with maladies, and then Levingston would sell remedies. The pair eventually began to travel, taking their show to Connecticut.

Some of Davis’s advice was unorthodox. For deafness, as Davis wrote in his autobiography, The Magic Staff, he once recommended a patient “catch thirty-two weasels ... take off their hind legs at the middle joint, and boil that oil which Nature has deposited in the feet and the parts adjacent thereto.” This preparation, he went on, “must be dropped (one drop at a time) in each ear, twice a day, till the whole is gone—when you will be nearly cured!”

Sketch of Andrew Jackson Davis on a yellow background
Internet Archive, Flickr // Public Domain

However, Davis swore off parlor tricks in 1844 after he claimed to have teleported 40 miles in his sleep. During the episode, he purportedly spoke with the ghosts of the Greek physician Galen and the Swedish scientist and philosopher Emmanuel Swedenborg, who hinted that Davis had a higher purpose. Galen gifted him with a magic staff, although he was not allowed to keep it. The tale mirrored that of Joseph Smith, who around 1827 had claimed a holy messenger guided him to golden plates on which the Book of Mormon was written. The year after the teleportation episode, Davis decided to part ways with Levingston, and moved to New York City in the company of Silas Smith Lyon, a doctor, and two Universalist ministers, William Fishbough and Samuel Byron Britton.

There, Lyon placed Davis into trance states several times a day, during which time he would lecture on science and philosophy while also diagnosing patients. Fishbough, meanwhile, would transcribe Davis’s transmissions, which were published as his first book, The Principles of Nature, Her Divine Revelation, and a Voice to Mankind in 1847. Davis combined Spiritualism with utopianism, describing a heaven-like space where all would be welcomed by a Mother and a Father God. Academics of the time soon noticed Davis’s insights were nearly identical to writings that Swedenborg had published years before: Both Davis and Swedenborg claimed to see a spiritual world beyond our own, where all humans could be welcomed into heaven, regardless of religion.

Christian leaders called Davis’s text heretical, while newspapers referred to the book as “ridiculous” and “incomprehensible.” One professor of Greek and Latin at the University of New York said the book was “a work of the devil,” and displayed an “absurd and ridiculous attempt at reasoning.” Joseph McCabe, in his 1920 book Spiritualism: A Popular History from 1847, declared that there was “no need to examine the book seriously” since it contained so many scientific errors. Notably, The Church of New Jerusalem, founded on Swedenborgian ideas, never publicly endorsed Davis’s theories.

Despite this criticism, Davis attracted passionate defenders. George Bush, a Swedenborgian scholar and distant relative of George W. Bush, was among his champions. He insisted that a simple youth like Davis had no access to Swedenborg’s texts and must have been communing with spirits. In 1846, when the French mathematician Urbain-Jean-Joseph Le Verrier postulated the existence of the planet Neptune, supporters were quick to write the New York Tribune claiming Davis had already discovered the eighth planet. “As to the asserted fact that this announcement by Mr. Davis was made in March last,” Bush declared, “I can testify that I heard it read at the time; and numerous gentlemen in this city are ready to bear witness that I informed them of the circumstance several months before the intelligence reached us of Le Verrier’s discovery.”

Detractors were just as vocal. When Fishbough admitted to extensively editing Davis's words, a reviewer at the London Athenaeum couldn’t contain his derision: “That a seer ‘commercing’ with the Mysteries of Nature should have needed an editor in this technical sense is remarkable enough," he wrote. "It might have been supposed that the Revelations which brought to an uneducated man the secrets of Science might have brought him grammar, too, to express them in.” Fishbough countered that it would have simply been too much work for Davis to pay attention to such tiny details.

"MARTIN VAN BUREN MAVIS"

Edgar Allan Poe
Edgar Allan Poe
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

One of the more prominent people occasionally making fun of Davis was Edgar Allan Poe. In the satirical “Mellonta Tauta,” Poe wrote in a preface that “Martin Van Buren Mavis (sometimes called the ‘Toughkeepsie Seer’)” had translated the story—thus poking fun at Davis and his acolytes. Poe also included Davis in his “50 Suggestions,” brief witticisms published in 1849 that took aim at popular beliefs and theorists of the time: “There surely cannot be ‘more things in Heaven and Earth than are dreamt of’ (oh, Andrew Jackson Davis!) ‘in your philosophy,’” Poe wrote.

Yet Davis’s The Principles of Nature may also have inspired the prose poem “Eureka,” in which Poe proposed his theory of the universe. The work has puzzled critics since its inception: Poe’s use of humorous nicknames in the text (he refers to Aristotle as “Aries Tottle”) point to “Eureka” being a satire, but historians have pointed out that several of Poe’s intuitive concepts actually anticipated the study of scientific phenomenon like black holes and the expanding universe.

Several historians have also remarked on the way Davis’s demonstrations in New York influenced Poe’s short story “The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar,” which follows a mesmerist who puts an old man into a trance on his deathbed and watches his body float between life and death. Davis had claimed his trances put him in a state near death, freeing his mind to travel to spiritual realms. In his book Occult America, writer Mitch Horowitz notes that Poe completed the story in New York the year he met Davis. Dawn B. Sova also mentions in Edgar Allan Poe A to Z: The Essential Reference to His Life and Work that Poe used his observations of Davis’s trance sessions to complete the story.

For his part, Davis himself seemed somewhat taken with Poe. Of meeting him in 1846, he wrote in Memoranda of Persons, Places and Events, “My sympathies are strangely excited. There are conflicting breathings of commanding power in his mind. But … I saw a perfect shadow of himself in the air in front of him, as though the sun was constantly shining behind and casting shadows before him, causing the singular appearance of one walking into a dark fog produced by himself.”

Charlatan or not, it was an eerie observation to make of a writer who would meet his end three years later.

Davis himself would live a long and rich life. He continued to lecture and write books until the 1880s, doing away with his scribe for later publications. He then earned a traditional medical license and moved to Boston, serving as a physician until his death in 1910. Though he sought to distance himself from the spectacle of spiritualism later on in life, Davis’s humble background and curious rise to fame made the “Poughkeepsie Seer” one of the movement’s most notable figures—and one who still maintains a strange resonance today.

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