Monday, June 20, 2011

Musing Monday...The Written Word or the Silver Screen?

So, what is this week's question from  MizB at  Should Be Reading ..

This week’s musing asks…
Do you like movies made from books? Which ones do you think have been done well — kept mostly to the plot of the book, etc?

I like movies, but I love maybe my answer is a little prejudiced.
I think in almost every case a good book, a great book, that is made into a movie will fall short.
To me, it is just logic.
No movie can contain all the good stuff that is in a book. The character development, descriptions of the settings, all the interior conversation...not even all the plot in a fairly good sized book. How long does it take to read a book aloud? 10..15...20 hours? and you are going to fit all that in a two hour movies? Of course not. So things will be changed, left out, glossed over and the best you can get is, maybe, a lesser representation of the original book.
It maybe still be an enjoyable movie, but can it be as good as the book?

One example I remember someone giving me of a great movie made from a book is The Godfather. Great movie, no question. Based on a popular book..but it really a great book? I can't say, I never read it, but I have to wonder.

So maybe, the only time it really works well is with a not so great book. A bloated book, a good that should have been edited with the Big Red Pen, may actually turn out better when the film folk get their hands on it.
Or the film makers may take the general idea of a book and turn it into their own creation, loosely based on the facts of the original book. It may be a great movie but the connection to the book gets a little loss.

If at all possible, and I see that a movie based on what seems like an interesting book is coming out, I would try to see the movie first...then read the book. the other way in my experience is just asking to be disappointed.


  1. I agree that most of the time, the book is better than the movie, for exactly the reasons you suggested. A few movies have fleshed out a book, at least for me. I'm thinking of How to Make an American Quilt, a good enough book, but a little spare. The movie was lovely.

  2. If I'm experiencing them close together, I do better seeing the movie first too.

  3. The only time I have thought that a movie was better than the book was in The Notebook. Everything else has fallen short.

  4. Generally for me the movie is so much less than the book for the very reasons you listed. The one exception is (imho) Cider House Rules; I thought the movie was well done but the book was endless.
    Slogging through mud endless!

  5. It is true that 90% of the time, the book is better than the movie just because of the amount of detail and time you can get and spend in the character's heads.

  6. In my experience a movie that is based on a book can't be compared to the book. Many times when I loved a book I ran to watch the movie, thinking I would love it just as much as I loved the book. However, most of the time I was disappointed. I found that when an author writes a book they develop characters and places in the readers minds from their words. They are descriptive, creative and graphic. When screenwriters use books to make movies, they can't develop the movie the same way the book was written. Of course movies don't need the same development as books because the visual and action speak for themselves. Nevertheless, you don't feel the same when you finish reading a book then when you watched the movie.
    I learned over the years to keep my book and movies separate. Read great books see great movies but don't watch a movie based on a book that you read!


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