Tag: Comparing the book with the movie

Question Tuesday: Books are Better than the Movies; Any Exceptions?

Posted June 26, 2012 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Question Tuesday / 0 Comments

“Never judge a book by its movie” – J.W. Eagan

I’m not sure if I’ve seen a movie that I liked more than the book. I know if I read American Psycho before seeing the movie I might have enjoyed it more. I think there are plenty of examples of books I didn’t enjoy because I saw the movie first. Others include Psycho by Robert Bloch and Limitless by Alan Glynn. There are a few movies that I enjoyed more than the books, like The Bone Collector by Jeffery Deaver, The Rum Diary by Hunter S. Thompson and The Hunter by Richard Stark (Payback, 1999) There are books I thought were average and I would rather invest 2 hours watching the movie than 8 or more hours reading the books. Even if the movies turned out bad, it was still less of an investment than reading the book.

Graphic novels seem to be the best at being adapted to movies. Ghost World by Daniel Clowes, Sin City by Frank Miller, Kick Ass by Mark Millar and V for Vendetta, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Watchman by Alan Moore all seem to be good examples of that. While all these graphic novels are decent, I prefer the movies over the books. I’m sure many people will disagree with this but that’s my opinion. What movies do people prefer over the books?

While we are on the topic of Movie Adaptions; one of the things I hate most about them, is when the cover of the books change to match the movie posters or even the name of the book changing to match. I really hate owning a book with the movie name or cover on it but sometimes there is just no getting away from it.


Is The Book Always Better Than The Movie?

Posted January 11, 2011 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Literature / 0 Comments

Book-into film-adaptations is a tricky subject.  Sometimes it’s easier to take the hard line and say the book is always better than the movie, but this isn’t always the case. With some interesting choices for adaptations coming out this year (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, The Dark Tower & the upcoming TV series; Game of Thrones) as well as some classics redone (The Hobbit, Jane Eyre & The Three Musketeers), I thought that we should see if we can work out, what makes a good adaptation?

I don’t think it’s fair to say all books are better than the movie.  There have been some great examples to prove this isn’t the case such as Bridget Jones Diary & High Fidelity. In fact, one of the first blockbuster movies was adapted from a very ordinary book (Jaws).

But it doesn’t stop there; sometimes great books do make great movies. These books normally have a strong narrative drive; The Road is a really dense novel, full of ideas, very exuberant prose and great language, yet it made a great movie, surprising many, because of the narrative.

A great adaptation also needs to capture the essence of the book; we want fidelity between the book and the film but there is a problem with this. If a filmmaker does a faithful adaptation to the book the people will say you lack imagination, but if you make a movie without perfect fidelity you run the risk of been chastised by the fans of the book.

One of the major problems with adaptations is the fact that as a novel there are all these different ways of expressing character but as a film writer there is only action. A novel can have thousands of ideas and perspectives but in a film it needs to be distilled into one central idea.  There was a quote from someone who worked on the Harry Potter movies that really explained this; “We’re not trying to hit all the bases and reproduce all the favourite characters and the favourite scenes cos that, in itself, is not enough. The film has to have meaning. And you need to distill that and that’s your job as an adaptor.”

On a rare occasion there comes a movie that takes a creative spin on their adaptation and does it really well. From a modern retelling of Romeo + Juliet & the BBC series Sherlock to the ground-breaking Bladerunner which ignores the central theme of the book almost completely. Taking a completely different direction on a book is often risky but can have surprising results.

‘The book is better than the movie’ may not be a golden rule, (but I think there should be a rule that “You need to read the book before seeing the movie”) however, movie adaptations can successes or failures, and more often than not they do fail. On a side note, I think graphic novels adapt a lot better than a novel ever does, is this because it’s almost a screenplay already? I would love to know some examples of good and bad adaptations, as well as your opinions on the subject.