Monday, October 15, 2012

Book vs. Movie

I'm back with another blog chain and this time the fabulous Michelle McLean gave us this question to chew on:

There are so many book-to-movie adaptations out there. Which are your favorites? Which are your least favorites? Why? Do you make sure you've read a book before you go see the movie adaptation, or do you prefer to read it after, or not at all?

Yes, it's the age old question: which came first the book or the movie? Okay, so maybe movies have only been around for the last hundred years - give or take a decade. But you know way back when in ancient Greece at a performance of  Sophocles' Oedipus Rex there was some jerk in the audience grumbling that the book was better.

But seriously, I love this question. Of course, as a reader, I am firmly in the "book was better" camp. However, that doesn't mean that I hate every book to movie adaptation.

For example, I thought The Hunger Games movie was pretty decent. I enjoyed it while watching it and upon leaving the movie theater didn't feel like I needed a literary chaser to get the bad taste out of my mouth. BUT, in contrast, I thought the book was great. Amazing. Something I will read again. The movie, if it comes on HBO I might watch a few minutes, but I can't really see myself sitting through the whole thing again.

I don't really know if I have a favorite adaptation. I think Fried Green Tomatoes is pretty great and did a really good job of capturing the spirit of the book without trying to stay 100% true to it's source material.

I also am a huge fan of Bridget Jones's Diary. And this is a cause where I enjoyed the book, but LOVE LOVE LOVE (omg Colin Firth as Mark Darcy - swoon!) the movie.However, when the sequel came out my feelings flip-flopped. I thought the book was enjoyable, but the movie was just awful.

For the most part I like to read the book before watching the movie. Or I like to read the book and just skip the movie entirely and save myself the pain. The Time Traveler's Wife is a good example of that. I thought the book was fantastic, but the movie looked really bad - so I skipped it.

There are times though when I see a movie without realizing it has literary roots. This is the case with one of my favorite movies ever: The Shawshank Redemption. Unlike The Hunger Games film, when this movie comes on TV, if I watch even a few seconds I get so sucked in that I end up on the couch watching it until the very end. Despite my love for Shawshank I have never read the Stephen King novella that it is based on. It's on my to-be-read pile though and I know that one day I will get to it, so that I can see if this is another case of the book being even better.

Okay, that's it from me, but this is only the beginning of the blog chain and there is a lot more book vs. movie discussion yet to come. Next up is Sandra's post tomorrow - make sure to check it out!


  1. ahhh I love the Hunger Games movie lol I have watched it a ridiculous amount of times. Same with the Twilight movies. Having said that, I still love the books more :D

  2. I've been saying this for years, but it's pretty much impossible for a movie to be better than the novel it was based upon. And it's purely due to logistics. Novelists tell stories in a 'novel' format, shaping them with literary devices like internal monologue and narrative summary, which often fills in much of the contextual information the reader needs. Unless they want to use a cheesy narrator voice, film-makers will always be lacking these elements. And cheesy narrator voices are so cheesy.

  3. "But you know way back when in ancient Greece at a performance of Sophocles' Oedipus Rex there was some jerk in the audience grumbling that the book was better." <-- awesome! LOL.

    It is so interesting the very different books and movies each blog chain member has thought of. I didn't even know The Shawshank Redemption was a book. LOL. I did know Bridget Jones' Diary was, but alas, I was not a fan of the movie and therefore not prompted to read the book. Colin Firth will always be my first movie love, though, in Pride and Prejudice. The Hunger Games movie was done very well! But yeah, nothing compares to Katniss' first person perspective. My parents, on the other hand, loved the movie more than the books because they just didn't get Katniss and were frustrated with the way she thought. The movie has less of her inner monologue and therefore you get to enjoy the guys (who are capable of feeling and expressing love) instead of her stinted attempts at figuring it all out. I wonder if more people will enjoy film adaptations of first person POV novels they didn't like - because of this key difference in the medium.

  4. Can you believe I have never seen Shawshank?? I keep meaning to, and then the thought of sitting for so long makes me pass. Haha. I ADORED The Time Traveler's Wife, but didn't see the movie because everyone said it would make me hate the book. Might see it anyway, just to decide for myself. LOVE the kitty photo, btw!