Books vs Movies: Creative Comparison

Posted: October 14, 2010 in Books, Film

I have always been a fan of book-to-film adaptations because most of them have good stories, substance and  I enjoy comparing the film to the source materials which includes novels, short stories, and even graphic novels. The adapted stories add extra dimension to its narrative because not only you can watch it visually, you can also take on it source text which I really enjoy reading (and collecting the books recently). It  gives a chance to compare two forms of ART – literature and cinema.

But usually readers are often disappointed on the movie adaptation, and it is rare when it is the other way around. So the first scenario is why is the Book better than the film?

Books are composed of written words, whose only limitation is the imagination of the author. In a book you, the reader, can create you own movie inside your mind; you are the director and producer, even cast yourself as the hero. You can decide the character and the environment looks like. This process of interpretation is the reader’s creative process to visualize the story.

While the film adaptations are the visual interpretation with a lot of inherent limitations. One of which is task of compressing an entire book into a 90minute presentation, the budget for the production, and it’s inability to express certain literary elements like thoughts, taste, and crafty narration. It’s a sure thing that the filmmaker will delete some scenes or subplots found in the book for narrative and budget purposes. They could even change various elements in the film, like the appearance of the characters, their roles, chunk down the script, change the location, and even add some scenes not found in the book. If these changes don’t work for the readers for sure they’ll be dissatisfied. Yes I’m talking to you Half Blood Prince and Jason Bourne!

My advice is before you watch the film; try to read the source first. It will be a lot more fun. Because the usual formula involved is “Books > Films”

But not all the time.

Novels they are!

There are some films that are really good, you didn’t even know that they are film adaptations; like Forrest Gump, Slumdog Millionaire, Memento, Memoirs of a Geisha, The Godfather, and my personal favorite The Shawshank Redemption. Indeed these titles are the definitive (or the wildly popular) version of the story.
This because the film did  a better job of telling the story that they become the story itself – a great movie. But I didn’t mean the books are bad! C’mon there is no sane producer willing to throw millions just to create a film out of crap.

Remember just because it worked in a paragraph doesn’t mean it would also work in the big screen. So don’t be disappointed if the movie is lesser than the book. The filmmakers have created their version through reading the book too, and no film, unless you make it yourself can truly satisfy. What’s important is you enjoy the story told in two completely different medium of art.

  1. jackieB says:

    another difference between a movie and a book: the book includes the characters’ introspection while movies only suggest the characters’ thoughts through their actions and scenes. Actions-slash-visual images speak louder than words. But sometimes words are better medium to express something abstract. For instance, you can show two people in love in a movie by letting the actors kiss or embrace. But, when you are reading a novel, you not only imagine two people kissing but you also read the characters’ thoughts.

    I think for some written work to be a hit maker in movie theaters, aside from having a good plot, it should have the potential to be visually stimulating. Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter are successful because fantasy brings out places and characters that we haven’t seen. And of course anything that has sex and violence, is attention grabber to the eyes.

    In short, a boring written work can be an entertaining movie and an interesting written work can be a lousy movie.

    • lapiskamay says:

      i agree with you that films cannot express a character’s introspection and thoughts, or to some degree very limited when that character is the narrator himself, like in Memoirs of a Geisha. but when it comes to action-packed and visually intense sequences everybody is eager to see it on the film, that’s why Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings, as you have said, were (are) very successful.

      I left some loop holes in this post to make it shorter and readable. ^_^ i really opted not to touch Harry Potter and LOTR. good thing you mentioned them. HP franchise is quite a mess to compare, since a couple of installments are better than d novels (depending on a person’s taste). And LOTR is the exception to d rule, it is vanity to compare the films to the books, they are both great! i’d be as good as involved in the War if i choose a side. i need to devote a few posts in the future about these titles.

      dis is quite an analysis to redeem some glory the lesser films deserve. hehe. Yeah books are really superior. they’ve got the right stuffs on their side.

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