I am a great lover of movies. A movie buff, if you will. But I am also; as I’m sure you’re aware from the fact I run a book blog…, a massive bookworm. So a question i am often asked is whether I prefer reading or watching movies. If i’m being totally honest, that is a hard question because I really do love them both, but I also feel like it’s the wrong question to ask me. A better question would be ‘do you prefer reading the book or watching the film adaptation of it?’
That is a completely different question to the original. And perhaps a bit easier to answer. On the surface, the answer must be the book. Surely, the book must always be better because that is what the movie is based off of. However, I have another issue with this. On an occasion when I have not heard of the book until I see it advertised in the cinema, do I want to spoil the book or the movie?
Almost surprisingly, quite often I find that it is actually better to watch the movie first. Let me explain- if you read the book first and then you watch the movie, you will inevitably be disappointed when they leave out your favourite moment, or cut one of your favourite characters (I talking about you, Peeves). However, if you watch the movie first you many enjoy it as it is, and then when you go to read the book, each untold moment feels like one from behind the scenes.
However, there is still the universal question of whether an adaptation can be better than a book? Well, I want to firstly explain why I think the book will always win.
- You can imagine a character/setting/voice/room exactly how you want
- Literally anything can happen in a book- imagination is the limit
- A book gives a deeper insight into a character than a movie ever could. Often it is literally an internal monologue that cannot translate onto a screen
- The movie will always be slightly different to how you pictured it. Cue slight disappointment.
- There simply isn’t enough time to tell every moment of the book -not everyone would want to watch a 20 hour movie of Harry Potter (not saying I wouldn’t though…)
- The mains themes or aspects of a book may be lost in the translation from page to screen
- the pace in a book is entirely different to a movie and it doesn’t necessarily work when it is moved across.
But because I am a classics student, I understand how important it is to give both sides of an argument. So here is my (albeit, much shorter) list on why movies may be considered better:
- They’re there for you in all their technicolour glory
- You can multi task whilst watching them
- Sometimes the special effects in a book can be so amazing that you don’t understand how it will be replicated in a film, and then somehow it is, and it leaves you awestruck.
- Seeing a scene that is particularly special or important to you transferred onto a big screen is exciting.
- Some (poor souls) who don’t read need movies or else they wouldn’t get to experience all these stories.
Aaaaaand… just because I love lists, here are some books and their movies, and my opinion of which is better.
1.The Hunger Games series -Suzanne Collins
Tough one. I really didn’t enjoy the first film at all, so The Hunger Games book certainly wins. But the next three movies were pretty awesome. I felt they really encapsulated the desperation and emotion behind Katniss and Panem. Plus, Jennifer Lawrence is all kinds of amazing. But, I think the reason they impressed me so much was because they were so like the book, so I guess the books have to win. Just.
2.What’s eating Gilbert Grape -Peter Hedges
Sorry but here I have to say I prefer the movie. Not only does it star Johnny Depp AND Leo DiCaprio, but the acting is flawless, emotional and poignant. The book is also amazing, but I just enjoyed this movie on a different level. Perhaps because I watched it before reading it?
3. Charlie and the Chocolate factory -Roald Dahl
Both of the movies were two of my favourites growing up; Charlie Bucket is a true angel. But the book portrays this kind boy even better, and paired with Blake’s illustrations, I have to give this one to the book.
4.Harry Potter series -J.K. Rowling
Book. Book every time. The movies are great but they miss out half of the plot and characters.
5. Bridget Jones’ diary -Helen Fielding
The books are great and they made me laugh out loud. But not belly laugh like the movies did. Even the new one had me crying as I laughed loudly in the cinema.
6. Percy Jackson series -Rick Riordan
Ugh. The books and movies are completely and totally different.
7.Safe Haven -Nicholas Sparkes
Both made me cry, but for some inexplainable reason, I think I preferred the movie. Again, maybe because I watched the movie first?
8.Atonement -Iwan McEwan
The book made me angrier than a one legged man in a kicking contest. Like seething mad. And any book that can evoke that kind of feeling deserves to win, no matter how good the movie is as well.
9. The Great Gatsby -Fitzgerald
As much as I enjoy the films (I’ve the Redford and DiCaprio versions) nothing can hold a candle to the power and magic of Fitzgerald’s words.
10. The Mortal Instruments -Cassandra Clare
This one is slightly different as there is not only a book and a movie, but there is also a TV series too. The movie, whilst being good as a stand alone, isn’t even in the same league as Cassandra’s books, which I am wholly obsessed with. The TV series, however, is a different story. Whilst it has the basic frame of The Mortal Instruments, Shadow hunters is different to the book it’s based off. Yet, although I really enjoy the series, I will still always love the massive world of book that Cassandra has created just a little bit more.
11. The Vampire Diaries- L.J Smith
I am obsessed with TVD. I read the books first and fell in love with them, especially Damon and Stefan.
However, the books after a while became a little too much for me, with too many different elements to keep up with. The series, whilst keeping the basic plot line of the books, was a different show and so it seems almost unfair to judge them against each other. However, I can honestly say I was far more addicted to the series and loved the different depictions of so many of the characters.
Winner: TV series
At the end of the day though, I think it is important to remember that a movie and a book are two totally different things. They’re different mediums and require different things; something I think is nicely surmised in this picture:
Enjoy both for what they are!