Book vs. Movie/TV show


#1

So there are a few things I’d like to talk about here. First of all has anyone ever thought that the TV or movie version of a particular story was better than the book? Although people who say, “the book is better,” almost always come off as snobish I’ve never seen this not be true. The reason being, obviously, that there are usually things that get left behind when translating a book to a form of visual media.

Secondly when both are available, which do you prefer to experience first? If you read the book first there’s probably going to be some disappointment when watching the show, but it is interesting to see characters brought to life. It’s also nice to have additional insight into what you’re watching. On the other hand it can be interesting to gain that extra insight while reading…

Lastly what are some of the better Book -> Movie, or even Movie-> Book translations you’ve seen?


#2

For me, it really depends on how the story is handled. If you’ve seen There Will be Blood, based on Upton Sinclair’s Oil!, you already know what a masterpiece a film can become if the right director and screenplay writer get together. The obvious pitfall of trying to follow the book to the letter was trying to convey the story through the eyes of the son which works in print but if you’re deaf how the hell would watching the world around you help me in film. They also had Daniel Day Lewis, who to me may be the best actor alive, carry out the gritty, morally-questionable protagonist. He did as good of a job with Bob the Butcher (sp?) in Gangs of New York.

However, sometimes the directors or screenplay writer(s) take their artistic freedom a bit too far. One such example is No Country for Old Men, a novel written by Cormac McCarthy. The movie, though lauded, missed many key points in the novel and even altered the ending to force a grim outcome. I think the Cohen brothers directed that one and it ended in a way Cohen movies end. I believe the movie wanted the audience to understand that the bad guy doesn’t always get his just desserts, but an important part of the novel is the final chapter where the sheriff is reminiscing about the case in some trailer or whatever and wondering if all that carnage was worth it.

That said, I normally favor books if they are something I believe I will enjoy. It’s totally a gamble, really. Even great directors can fuck up a book movie. Or it can be on equal footing. Take the Lord of the Rings series. They left out way more information than I can type out here from the movies, but they were still very well-done and enjoyable. They also don’t compete with reading the novels. The last movie I saw that left me just disgusted with how it was handled was The Hunger Games. The book was so much better I couldn’t believe they let that film come out in theaters. It missed several key plot points and altered a major character to the point of removing her entirely from the film, lessening the impact of Katniss Everdeen going to the Games in the first place.


#3

I think how people view book vs movie depends on two things;

  1. They will prefer the one they see/read first. I personally take a liking to every book I read before I see movies simply because I get to essentially fill the roles portrayed in the book with people I know that seem to fit or actors I think would do well in the particular role, and I sort of imagine it the way I want to. When I go see a film, I really just accept everything in film form because that’s how it’s laid out for me, it doesn’t leave visuals to imagination, and in turn I find that I’m just skimming through a book looking for things not mentioned in the film.

  2. The one exception is when the characters are portrayed so exceptionally well in film form that people felt the book was lacking. One example of this was Brad Pitt’s role in Fight Club, many people felt that after watching the film, the character Tyler Durden in the book wasn’t nearly as great (you didn’t get the real sense of his personality, etc) as him in the movie. I find that books don’t tend to have the same kind of effect because overall it’s harder to reach the reader through text.


#4

The Godfather movie is better than the book. Way way better.


#5

Hmm, tough thread…most interesting. Typically I’ll watch a film version of something first, cuz it’s less time dedicated if I don’t enjoy it. Not as adventurous in book reading as I used to be. If it’s a book I’ve read and they do a movie, then I’ll judge it with how it handles the novel. I don’t seek out books that are becoming movies, but if I liked the movie then I’m usually less adverse to differences when reading the book…it becomes a bonus level of insight I guess. I liked Jurassic Park the novel much better than the film, but I don’t hate the movie for not following the book exactly. Movies have to stand on their own outside of being 100% novel faithful, so I know concessions always have to be made.

Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining >Stephen King’s The Shining>Stephen King’s The Shining minseries
The film is tour-de-force of style and sound for Kubrick, and it drops the majority of Jack Torrance’s mental decline/battles with alcoholism from the novel in favor of “how long until Jack Nicholson just completely fucking cracks”, but I’ve never particularly enjoyed the Shining novel that much. Very slow paced until the last 130 pages or so, part of King’s nasty drunk period. The miniseries was far more faithful to the novel, but being a TV miniseries, it never built up any tension and constantly reminded you it was ghost story by having a shot of some object moving before every commercial break. I absolutely despised the kid playing Danny in the miniseries.

Star Wars Episode III Revenge of the Sith novel by Matthew Stover > Star Wars Episode III Revenge of the Sith movie.
The novel of Episode III was so fucking good compared to the movie. The level of the Emperor’s deception of the Republic and the Jedi order is more thoroughly explained, Anakin’s fall is handled much more intricately so it’s actually believable compared to film. One the first Star Wars novels that goes in depth describing the seven styles of lightsaber combat, going into the thought process of the fighters and describing how they’re employed when they’re fighting. The novel also had chapters written in 2nd person perspective, which I haven’t seen much, but they were great:
Small tidbit.
“This is how it feels to be Anakin Skywalker. The first light in your universe brings you pain. The light burns you. It will always burn you. Part of you will always lie upon black glass sand beside a lake of fire while flames chew on your flesh.
You open your scorched-pale eyes; optical sensors integrate light and shadow into a hideous simulacrum of the world around you. Or perhaps the simulacrum is perfect, and it is the world that is hideous. It is in this blazing moment that you finally understand the trap of the Dark Side, the final cruelty of the Sith–that now your self is all you will ever have”

Blade Runner = Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep
Pretty much on equal footing for me, like two sides of the same coin. Saw BR way before I ever read the book and liked the film better, but didn’t understand either until I was older. Now they’re equals for me, even though Deckard’s character ends up in different places between the two. The Deckard-a-replicant theme is something that is toyed with in the book but never finalized. The later film versions somewhat removed any doubt with the Unicorn scene, which I’ve never cared for.


#6

About three months ago I posted in the lounge thread asking if “reading” the ASOIAF books would ruin the show Game of Thrones for me… I was lied to.
That show was sooo much better when I had no idea how much of the original had been cut out. The thought of them messing up the best book in that series next season makes me cringe every time I think about it.

I’m pretty sure the person who made the Hunger Games movie never read the second and third book judging by how bad of a job they did at setting up anything for the other movies. Good luck to whoever has the job of backtracking through all of the missed points in the second movie.


#7

I have little hope of that series being saved. There’s absolutely no excuse for that book to turn out into such a shit movie. It was a solid read through and through.


#8

While not necessarily superior, The Outsiders movie was in no way inferior to the book, IMO.

Plus, so many hunks <3!


#9

I loved The Red Dragon and The Silence of the Lambs books so much more than the films, have yet to read Hannibal though.


#10

It is almost purely a case-by-case issue, but I will say this: if a story really takes advantage of its native medium, it will resist adaptation. In such a case, to outdo the original would require making changes to the material to better suit the new medium, which–if taken too far–will result in a story that is less an adaptation than an original work.