Don’t judge a movie by its book
By Lauren Paulsen, Senior Columnist
We’ve all done it. We’ve gone to the movies to see an adaptation of a book we may love, and more often than not, we come away disappointed because it didn’t hold up to our expectations. But are we really being fair?
Books and movies are two completely different types of entertainment. One is a more “active” type, requiring more imagination to “see” the world through words, whereas the other is a more “passive,” type because everything you see has been created for you. So why do we compare them?
It is okay to want to see the book you love translated onto the big screen. Being a very visual species, we love to be able to see the characters and places that we imagine in our heads. Therefore, it is pretty natural to compare a movie adaptation to the book you’ve read. However, you should also remember that a director is not the author of the book, and may have a different vision for the movie he or she is creating.
A movie or television adaptation of a book can either be faithful to the original story, deviate slightly from it, or could be an entirely separate piece of work.
An example of an adaptation that only deviates slightly would be The Hunger Games. Something that is effective in a book may not work as well on screen. In the original novel, we are in Katniss’s head and see everything from her point of view. Although the movie could have been adapted in this way, it would be difficult to portray everything that Katniss thinks. Leaving Katniss’ point of view also allows the movie to give us a glimpse of some other characters’, making it more engaging for viewing. It also gives the viewers a better idea of what is going on, since a movie cannot explain things in the same way a novel can.
Another thing to think about when you are seeing an adaptation is whether the director was trying to show something different than the book. Remember that the director is a different person than the author of the novel. Although authors are often consulted, they may not have much creative input. Perhaps the director wants to portray a different meaning in the movie than the novel did. In the end, the movie is the director’s vision and creation, not the author’s.
Therefore, it is probably a better idea not to expect a movie to be the same as that novel you loved, or else you will most likely be let down. In some cases, there is no denying that the movie was not made well (remember how popular the novel Eragon was, but the movie adaptation was a complete flop?), or perhaps, in some cases, was done even better than the novel. However, it is best to remember that a movie and a novel are two very different types of media, and therefore should be treated that way.