by Hannah Joslin
I want to tackle something here: books versus movie adaptations. Why does that sentence sound off an alarm in fandoms all over the Internet? Potterheads are probably already on their way.
But, I want to know: why is it that books seem to be so consistently “better” than their movie adaptations? Personally, I believe it to be (at least partially) a matter of imagination, and keeping yours.
If you’ve ever read a book in its entirety and then saw the movie adaptation, you know you can’t read that book again the same way you did. While reading, you will picture the actors and settings from the movie. You have essentially, and sometimes entirely, lost the story of your personal imagination and replaced it with a less in-depth, less alluring version that doesn’t belong to you.
There are undoubtedly other factors: the limitations of film can lead to important storylines being left out, emotional scenes being rushed through, even entire characters being eliminated. Book lovers can get so passionate about criticizing a movie adaptation because, as readers, they know that the movie didn’t do the story justice. Many things that make a novel a good novel, are lost when rendered into a movie.
This is not to say that movies are not valuable. Films can be heart-wrenching, imaginative, groundbreaking, exciting. And many are (you’re talking to a film buff, here). They can be unprecedented, and moving picture tends to capture emotion the best of all mediums. It’s astounding that people can take their own mental images and emotions and create a film for all, conceived entirely from words on a page.
But you can’t, through a movie, come to know and understand a character by diving deeper and deeper into their mind like you can through a book. The timeline of a book is much slower and, naturally, a reader becomes more attached. They, in a sense, fall in love with the characters, with the story, with the themes, and even with how the author tends to form sentences.
There are seldom things more fulfilling than living an entire life in a novel. The connection made between reader and character, and reader and author, is a bond unlike any other that simply can’t be realized in quite the same way through a movie.
So can passionate book fans get a little crazy about movie adaptations? Of course. Rightfully so, if you ask me, especially if the adaptation is money-grabbing by making scenes more action-packed than they should be. Does that mean everyone who watches the movie should have read the book first? Of course not. But any reader will tell you: finishing a novel is one of the best feelings. It can even change the way you think and perceive the world. It takes a lot out of you. And, if you have the patience to read instead of watch, it will also give a lot back to you.
Think of it this way. You cannot see someone for who they truly are, the reasons they’re hopeful, the stories behind their scars, the way their eyes brighten at the sound of someone’s name, how their voice trembles when they sing a certain verse of a song—you can’t take this living thing and simply try to accurately portray it through an actor with the same color eyes.
Only reading can portray such a beautiful sight. Reading, and experiencing it in real life, that is. But why live one life when you can live a hundred?
Guest post contributed by Hannah Joslin at the Blooming Twig. The Blooming Twig is an independent, boutique publishing house that supports the adventurous tastes of its readership.