Why the Book Is Always Better

megalomania

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Very nice article; It excatly reflects the thoughts I had about the Lord of The Rings when I watched the films. They are brilliant films but they aren't MY Middle Earth!
 

Casual Shinji

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The book is the book. The film is the film.

That's how I see it anyway.

People can get all wound up that some things get lost in the translation from page to screen, but like you said, books and movies are very different mediums. Had they made a 100% accurate translation of Lord of The Rings, the movie would've been unbearable, if only because most of the characters wouldn't seem to have an arc.

In order to make good movie translation, you have to change things, because you're making a movie and not a book.

Books will always be more of a personal experience, but that's the written word for ya.
 

Carnagath

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I agree and would add that the book is even better than the film the more imaginative you are as a person and as a reader. Furthermore, reading does train and broaden one's imagination, so people who read a lot (especially fiction) also tend to be more imaginative and harder to satisfy when they watch a film than people who don't.
 

Therumancer

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Interesting, I've heard similar opinions before. Speaking for myself I tend to think a failure to capture a book's essence is mostly the fault of the film makers. I can see how some books can't be translated properly, but others can be, it's just deliberate choices are made not to.

Missing content and explanation is typically an issue of wanting to keep run times down. Sometimes "Director's Cuts" help here, but often all of the material that should be there isn't filmed to begin with.

Then of course there is modification based on what the people producing the movie want to do with it. The deeper and darker context of "Alice In Wonderland" for example doesn't jibe with the desire to make a kid-friendly film. A lot of people tend to forget what is present in some of these children's tales (doubtlessly to gradually build the personality structures they will need as adults), people analyzing the work to make a film suddenly think "wow, in todays "protect the children" world, we can't make this obvious or it would slot a lot of people off".

In many cases I feel a work could be done justice as say a mini-series, TV series, or an epic with the films being several times longer. You rarely see this kind of thing attempted for reasons both financial, and of course practical because simply put film makers believe that today's generation is not capable of sitting through say a four hour movie.

To be honest, the last time I attended a show that had an intermission was at a (fairly local) drive-in. While there are fewer of these around today, I think they prove that you could very easily make four to six hour movies, rather than showing two films with an intermission in between. All jibes about the purpose of a drive in aside (snicker) I think it's one of many things you can point at to show that it's possible to take the time to do a lot of these stories right.

If someone was to say triple the length of all of the Harry Potter films, yeah, I think you could get a "perfect" film adaption. The obstacles of course being time and money, not some fundemental barrier between book and screen. The same could be said of most adaptions. Ditto of course for taking a "damn the torpedos" approach to content, I understand why it doens't happen, but the bottom line it could happen. With today's ethics of insane child protection would a properly translated "Alice In Wonderland" still get a "G" rating? No, probably not. I imagine ratings boards would push it up to PG at least.
 

tautologico

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The first two Harry Potter movies are terrible. The first fails exactly because it tries to stay too close to the book; the bad acting of the protagonists doesn't help, either.

Now, a good film from a Harry Potter book is the third one, directed by Alfonso Cuarón. I liked HP7 part 1, but the better HP film is still the third.
 

Dorkmaster Flek

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The real question is, does this mean we shouldn't try to adapt books to films, or films to games, or medium X to medium Y at all? My knee jerk reaction is yes, but I'm not certain.
 

Simulated Eon

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Interesting article and I completely agree.
The thing was when I started notice this I have always wanted to read the book before I see the movie (a reason to why I still haven't seen "It") so that I don't have my imagination spoiled when I read the book.
It is also a readon to why I hate certain movies becase they stray so far from the books or completly destroys the narative (Eragon I'm pointing at you).
 

spartan231490

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I think it's much more simple than this article makes it out to be. It comes down to the fact that books and movies work in fundamentally different ways, and i think books are superior, but my opinion aside. You can't take a story that was made for the book way of things and have it work even better in the movie way of things. I would go so far as to suggest that most if not all movies that aren't based on books, would make horrible books. A book often uses the thoughts and emotions of the characters to keep the reader interested when there is no "on screen action". They also have a lot more time to atach the reader to the main character, meaning emotional conflict is much more powerful. On the other hand, movies show you the action in real time, so action sequences are much more compelling than in a book. that's my opinion anyway.
 

Orcboyphil

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This is why I never understood the popularity of Slumdog Millionaire. I read the book (Q&A) after listening to a wonderful adaptaion on Radio 4. To me the film was a disaster, it followed the basic plot alright (poor boy wins big on quiz becuase his life experiences give him the answers) but apart form that everything had changed, heck even the main charecter no longer existed and there where glaring plot holes because of it (Why do they all suddenly speak English? Ram had always spoken english as he was brought up by an English priest and had also worked in the Austalian embassy, not forgetting his time fleecing American tourisits). So yeah a film adaptation is never as good as the book.
 

manythings

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megalomania said:
Very nice article; It excatly reflects the thoughts I had about the Lord of The Rings when I watched the films. They are brilliant films but they aren't MY Middle Earth!
Perhaps but I personally could live without the combined 150 pages that he spent in every new environment talking about how it stank worse than the place they were in last time.

I read them before the movies way back in the dinosaur times of the 90's and recently tried again but I only got as far as Bilbo's birthday party before I gave up and read something with a scrap of pacing.
 

Rawle Lucas

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Aug 19, 2010
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Here's why the book is always better if it came first: the book had more time.

Films are the visual equivalent of short stories, not novels. They have to stick with a few characters and focus on mostly one conflict (longer films can handle more, but not by much.) Films seem so much less satisfying than the books they're based on because those long novels have been condensed immensely. Visuals, of course, take away the need for written or spoken descriptions, but the text that remains is still a challenge.

Limited-run TV shows are the visual equivalent of novels.

One trick I've seen, though, is to watch the film first, then read the book (I did this with Kamikaze Girls.) When you watch the film first, you feel a strong sense of discovery when you later crack open the novel and encounter everything that was left out or altered, but when you read the book first, you get frustrated at all the stuff left out of the movie.
 

Jabberwock xeno

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Of course.

It's adaption decay: The manga is almost always better than the anime, the book for the film, the film to the game and so on.
 

Redem

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I think providing the right circustance a movie adaptation can be better than the book especially in term of pacing and style. I think it might be related to how one or the other manage to convey information to the viewers/readers.

I for one keep wondering why most people feel compel to read book adaptation first rather than seeing the movie first see if they like it and then read the book. (unless of course the movie very different from the book)
 

comadorcrack

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Mar 19, 2009
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I disagree, Yes in general films do fall short of their paper sources. However this is because they try and be too much like the book. Its not strictly a true statement but bare with me. Films and Books are different media and I always say on thing when a film is an adaptation "Don't be like the book". Its best if a film takes the general principle and story from the book. Then does its own thing. It may not always work out, but its clearly a failing system trying to be too much like the book.

That's why I enjoyed the latest Harry Potter So much. It didn't take too much from the book, it wasn't afraid to do its own thing.
 

DiMono

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I'm of the opinion that whatever came first is usually better, because it's in its original form. It almost never goes movie -> book though, it's pretty reliably other media -> movie. Books are so much better because the narrative can explain what people are thinking and what their motivations are in a way that movies simply cannot.
 

MikailCaboose

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I disagree with the Lord of the Rings. I found that the books ended up having quite a bit of dull, no point sections. Plus the movies did a better job with Faramir because they changed his character a bit.
 

'Aredor

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I wholeheartedly agree, although one could say just as well: the books are better most of the time because books are the superior medium (at least for conveying the things mentioned in the article)

comadorcrack said:
That's why I enjoyed the latest Harry Potter So much. It didn't take too much from the book, it wasn't afraid to do its own thing.
I'm confused, are you really talking about the Deathly Hallows, part 1? You're aware that this is, apart from maybe the first one, the only movie in the series to actually stick very close to the book, dismissing only little subtleties?
MikailCaboose said:
Plus the movies did a better job with Faramir because they changed his character a bit
Heretic! I usually don't complain too much about changes made from book to movie, but here, they failed bitterly: The whole point of Faramir is that, although his father considers him to be inferior to his big brother, he turns out to be the only human in the whole story who can withstand the rings temptation. And they changed that just so they could add another point of friction. (I don't mean to say you're wrong, just wanted to give my two cents).