DCPLive is a blog by library staff at the DeKalb County Public Library!
Dec 9 2008

Book vs. Movie

by Heather S

Ginny’s post last Thursday reminded me of a perennial debate with friends – Which is better, the book or the movie adaption? What are your favorite and least favorite books to film adaptations? What books should never, ever be made into a movie?

I hold to the position that the book is better than the movie. For example, I slept through Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil yet stayed up all night to finish the book. I have yet to watch all of Gone with the Wind, but the book is one of my all time favorites. The Lord of the Rings trilogy is one of the few that I was happy to see on the silver screen; I have tried and tried to read Tolkien, but have never been able to get past page 100. With the movies, I can follow and enjoy the story.

So, readers, what are your thoughts?

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Nikki December 9, 2008 at 2:36 PM

I have to agree about Lord of the Rings.. I love reading the books but because the movie was done so well, it’s nice to see the story come to life.

I’m on the fence about Harry Potter. I’m sure it’s a popular discussion with fans of the books and movies. The first two movies complemented the books superbly. After the second movie, the movies have become more about hollywood and less about staying to the books. That’s just my opinion.

Also, I just saw The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (at the Tara). They really brought it to life beautifully.

The worst movie I saw lately brought to screen was Eragon.

I could go on and on which brings me to another thought. Is it just me or has hollywood lowered it’s originality and is making more books into movies that ever before? I have mixed feelings about that..

Anyway, happy reading and watching, everyone!

Tish December 10, 2008 at 9:46 AM

I usually only prefer movies if I see them first. I’m an avid reader and the magic of Hollywood cannot match my imaginiation most of the time.
I recently saw the Twilight movie without knowing the story or having read the book first. It whet my appetite so I want to read the books. That tends to be the magic for me.

Lesley December 10, 2008 at 12:24 PM

One of the worst adaptations I’ve ever seen was Ella Enchanted. My daughter loved, loved, loved the book and was so disappointed in the movie. All the charm and subtlety of the book was lost — they turned it into something like Shrek.
But I thought the first Narnia movie was better than the book.

DC December 10, 2008 at 1:21 PM

One of the FEW books for which I’ve enjoyed the film adaptation as much as the book is “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” by Milan Kundera.

As for poor adaptations, there are too many for me to mention, unfortunately.

Ken December 10, 2008 at 5:23 PM

I usually decide to do one or the other: read the book or see the film, but not both. I usually read, so I really have to be tempted into a film adaptation. I agree with you about “Midnight in the Garden”, and “Gone with the Wind”. Sometimes though, the film adaptation can be so completely different from the book that it’s a new experience. “The Object of My Affection” was a good example of this.

R. Hughes December 11, 2008 at 10:53 AM

Agree about “Midnight in the Garden” also. I like to read the book first, then see the movie–but it doesn’t always work out that way. “To Kill a Mockingbird” immediately comes to mind as example of a great adaptation to film. Saw interview with Gregory Peck that added interesting background info.

One of my least favorite film adaptations is “Road to Perdition.” I was hoping the movie would have look and feel of the graphic novel.

Alison W. December 11, 2008 at 10:57 AM

I must admit I enjoy movie adaptions of classics. Since I read mostly non-fiction, it’s my way of at least knowing the story lines. These are my favorites (I watch them at least once a year): Dr. Zhivago, Pride and Prejudice (with Colin Firth) and the BBC production of Bleak House with Gillian Anderson.

LC December 11, 2008 at 7:05 PM

I tend to notice for children’s literature, the adaptation from book to movie is often much poorer than for adult literature nowadays. Perhaps this is because of the need for movie companies to deliver a movie quickly for maximum profit among the child audience.

Overall, I find the main complaint people have with is interpretation. When you read a book, you have your own image of a character, its surroundings, etc. What a movie does is show you the director’s image of the book. Whether you like the movie or not depends on whether you agree with his interpretation.

As for me, I tend not to watch movies based on books just so that I can maintain my own image of the book.

Veronica W. December 19, 2008 at 1:22 PM

I love all the Jane Austens. Please tell me why no one has thought to make Georgette Heyer books into movies. I know several people who would love to see them on the big screen.
(Oh yeah, how great is Matt Damon in the Bournes?)

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