The age old debate of books versus movies is a big one that becomes increasingly relevant as more and more cinemas are filled with movies based on a book. Which is better? Books or movies? Do you watch the movie? Or read the book first? Where do you stand on books with movie posters as covers? For? Against? So many questions. So many opinions. Where do you stand? All I can add to this is my own opinions and experiences and I would love to hear yours in return.
I feel like this could quickly become a long winded post so lets divide this debate up into parts and examine each question on its own. Lets start at the beginning. Books versus movies: which is better?
I feel that this is a simple answer from me. Books. Books are almost always better than movies. They have one advantage: they can be as long and descriptive as they need to be. The major flaw in all book to move adaptations is that the movie just cannot go into the depth that books can. If they were to fully explain everything that occurs in the book they would go on for hours. Take the Hobbit for example. They took the time to follow the book in detail and they ended up with three, long separate movies. They just can’t compete with a book in that department. They also can’t reenact the internal dialogue that books can. Yes, they can have voiceovers verbalising the thoughts but it just isn’t the same as reading the characters inner thoughts and dialogue. Take Twilight for example, so much of the angst and built up tensions between the two main characters is lost in the movie without the constant verbal mentation that you experience while reading the book.
All in all I am a book fan all the way. I enjoy watching the movie as I like so see how they visually represent the words, the story but more often than not I find myself leaving the cinema disappointed. Notable movie disappointments for me include This Is Where I Leave You, The Lovely Bones, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and any of the Twilight movies beyond the first one. To me they missed crucial elements of the plot, had actors that I didn’t feel represented the characters in a satisfying way, changed aspects the story too much from the book or all of the above. For these reasons I can be wary of a book to movie adaptation.
However, for every disappointment there was a success. Movies that I enjoyed quite a lot (not as much as the book but enough to be fully satisfied) includes movies like The Book Thief, The Hunger Games and every other Harry Potter movie (apart from the aforementioned Prisoner of Azkaban). Might I dare even say I actually prefer the Lord of the Rings movies to the books? This is purely because I feel that as much as Tolkien is an amazing writer at times the essence of the plot can get lost in the multitudes of descriptions. At the very least watching the movies made it easier to read the books as you already had the setting and the characters in your minds eyes and did to need to build them from the immense descriptions. There are even the movies I love for their differences from the book. The Notebook is a simple and beautiful movie that never fails to put me in tears and the book just as much so, however, parts of the plot are quite different and I appreciate them both for the differences reflect the mediums that they are being portrayed in. Movies do better telling a simpler story that you can enjoy in 2 hours and leave fully satisfied with the connection you created. Books get their beauty from their complex layers that you build slowly over the duration of the novel. I love them both in different situations.
I could go on about this forever so lets move on and continue with part two at a later date: watch the movie first or read the book?