Graphic by Nate Barton
Movie adaptations of books are hardly ever good enough for the readers who discovered the story when it existed only in paper and ink. A pop-culture debate is parsing out which was better: the book or the movie. However, the debate over which is better misrepresents the largely different experience each method of story telling gives its readers.
A book and a movie are completely different art forms. One should never claim that books are always better than movies because there cannot be a rigid rule when it comes to this debate. Each experience will be vastly different.
Although, it’s easy to understand why readers are often disappointed with the movie adaptation of the book. In a book, the author constructs a world with enough detail to pull readers in, but the rest is up to the readers. An author might give distinguishing details, glasses, hair color, unique ticks, but there are thousands of details that the reader has to fill in for themselves. No one thinks about all of these details in the same way, so the experience is personal; a unique world built between the reader and the author.
“The relationship we have with the book is personal and special; the relationship we have with the movie is more distanced from that, more passive, and certainly less demanding of us,” according to Jen Doll’s article “The Trouble with Making Books We Love into Movies,” published March 3, 2012 by The Atlantic.
Even a memorable movie can be a small tragedy for readers. A movie will often reach a far wider audience, but the experience will change. All the visual details are filled in and viewers see a world constructed for them, not one they helped create. Sometimes, important details are changed.
“Few reading ‘Gone With the Wind’ could now follow the adventures of Scarlett O’Hara without imagining Vivien Leigh, even if novelist Margaret Mitchell described her heroine as ‘not beautiful,'” according to Bootie Cosgrove-Mather’s article, “The Book Vs. The Movie” published Nov. 11, 2002 by CBS.
Even a good movie can leave a reader unsatisfied or even angry. It’s time to stop the book verses movie debate and appreciate the difference in these two art forms.
Follow Sarah Kiker on Twitter: @SarahKiker3