Saturday, November 2, 2013

Book Versus Movie

I'm firmly in the camp of: the book version is always better than the movie version. But I still get totally excited when a fav book is turned into a movie. (Can you say Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings?)

Since summer, I've been jonesing to see the film adaptations of some of my favorite books: Ender's Game, Catching Fire, and The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.

Along with the excitement comes a tingle of anxiety. Will the movie live up to my expectations? How will they change the characters? Will they look how I picture them? What scenes will be cut? Will they futz with the ending?

For example, regarding Ender's Game, the actor who plays Ender Wiggin looks nothing like I pictured. He's supposed to be six years old!

Did I feel a twinge of disappointment when I first saw the kid cast as Ender?


And about two seconds later, I got sucked into the super awesome CGI effects.

(Yeah, I'm kinda superficial when it comes to movies--the more explosions and the more action, the better.)

Then I remembered: While I know that, for me, the book always trumps the movie, I also like to keep an open mind when I watch a film adaptation. It's impossible to include every nuance of the book, to cast actors who look exactly like the characters in the book, and to create the world that I envisioned with my imagination.

So what do I do?

I enjoy the movie for the movie. I try not to compare the film to the book. I judge it on itself.

And for the most part, I enjoy movies based on books.

How about you? Do you like to watch the film version of books? Do you read the book first or watch the movie first? Why?

And what's better: the book or the movie?

* * * *

Laura Diamond is a board certified psychiatrist and author of all things young adult paranormal, dystopian, and horror. Her Young Adult Paranormal Romance novelette NEW PRIDE and novel SHIFTING PRIDE debuted late 2012 from Etopia Press. A spin off short story based on the lions of Tsavo, TSAVO PRIDE, is now available on Kindle. In 2013, her Young Adult Dystopian series, ENDURE and EVOKE, are being published by Etopia Press. Her Young Adult Paranormal Adventure, THE ZODIAC COLLECTOR, is coming 2014 by Spencer Hill Press. When she's not writing, she is working at the hospital, blogging at Author Laura Diamond--Lucid Dreamer, and renovating her 225+ year old fixer-upper mansion. 

If you’re interested in reading more about me, or interacting with me on the web check out the following links:

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  1. In general, I agree that the books are better than the movie adaptations. However, there have been some incredible exceptions to this rule which keeps me open-minded to the possibility of the film trumping the book. For me, the films that were better than the books are: Requiem for a Dream, Prozac Nation, Into the Wild and Stardust.

  2. I'm terrible at separating books from movies. I constantly compare the book in my head as I watch the movie. Part of me doesn't see a problem with that -- it's not like I can just pretend I never even read the book. But it would be nice to be able to enjoy a movie based on a book I love without that comparison.

    Still, very few movies are anywhere near as good as the books. Most of them just fail to capture whatever made people love the book.

  3. Suzanne--I enjoyed the film, Requiem for a Dream; didn't realize it was a book!

    Mary--It's true, the movie can't capture everything in the book. I can't imagine how they go about deciding what parts to keep and what parts to cut when drafting a screenplay.

  4. There are two things to remember when discussing an adaptation of a book in to a movie. One is that movies, by their very nature, have a limited amount of time to tell a story. On average about 90-120 minutes. Sounds like a lot of time, but it really isn't. The other is something I learned when I first learned how to write a screenplay back in the mid-1980s. If it doesn't advance the plot, it doesn't belong in the script.

    Books have the luxury of time. Books can take time to flesh out characters, get in to their heads and find out what makes them tick. Movies have to do as much of that as they can almost purely through action. Exposition kills movies. Quickly.

    Movies have to find the most basic elements of a plot and boil them down even further. Movies have to advance the plot at every turn. Movies have to keep the viewer's attention by keeping the action going. Certainly there are moments of peace that allow the viewer to breathe, but the action has to keep moving through the greater part of a movie.

    The upshot of all this is they're different beasts with different needs. Neither is better or worse than the other as a form. There are certainly bad adaptation of books in to movies and there are equally bad adaptations of movies in to books, but the goodness or badness really has to be determined on the merits of the form.