Sunday, April 17, 2011

Books vs. Movies - The Great Debate


I used to think that I didn't like movies that were made from books. I had the attitude that "the book is always better than the movie". But recently I've begun to see things a little differently and have a had a change of heart. I can no longer make such a blanket statement.

It all started with Memoirs of a Geisha. By the time that book had been made into a movie, it had been several years since I had read the book. I LOVED that book and was anxious (though nervous) to see the film. The film was absolutely gorgeous and wonderful and I couldn't remember enough details of the book to know if the movie butchered it or not. The same thing happened with The Lovely Bones and The Other Boleyn Girl. At that point, I changed my opinion and decided that as long as I had read the book long enough ago, that I would be able to judge the movie on its own merits and not compare it unfavorably to the original.

And then last week, I had to reevaluate my stance on this issue yet again. A few weeks ago I read and reviewed the fantastic Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. I LOVED this book and couldn't stop thinking about it for days after I finished it. I was aware that it had been made into a movie very recently and I was anxious to see the film. I watched it within a couple of weeks of reading the book and was afraid that since I remembered the book vividly I might regret watching the film. I was wrong! Even though the movie did stray from the book in a few minor ways, I loved it! It was very well done and watching the movie actually enhanced my understanding of the characters and added a whole new layer of appreciation for the story. This was so unexpected and such a revelation. It has caused me to rethink my whole philosophy on movies made from books.

The timing of this attitude adjustment couldn't be better, either. There are two current movies based on books that I've loved either playing now or opening soon - Jane Eyre and Water for Elephants. I actually saw Jane Eyre last night and thought it was terrific. The cinematography was gorgeous and I thought the movie was very well done. I loved that most of the actors are relative unknowns and their "celebrity" did not get in the way of the characters they were playing (if you know what I mean). This very issue is one that worries me about Water for Elephants. I am excited to see this movie, but I think it was very miscast. I really can't envision Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon in the leading roles. But, I'm willing to put aside my reservations. I just might be surprised. As I've recently come to realize, the book isn't always better than the movie.

How about you? Do you enjoy seeing movies made from your favorite books? Or do you avoid them at all costs?

11 comments:

JessRaquel said...

I'm so excited for Water for Elephants! Not only did I read the book but I'm infatuated with Robert Pattinson so I'm pretty sure I'll love it regardless

Anita said...

I'm always a bit reserved about movies made based on a book I loved. The Lovely Bones was well done, but I wonder if the movie goer could imagine what the villian really did to that poor girl. There was also no real talking of her view of "heaven".
I haven't read Water for Elephants yet, but I'm in no rush for the movie so I'll see if I can read before seeing the movie.
It's kind of fun to change your mind on a topic like this.

Karen Peterson said...

I used to get so frustrated with the things that were cut from books for the sake of the movie. While I am still sometimes disappointed by what's difference or left out, I know that book and movies are two different mediums and use different ways of telling the same story. Now, I can generally enjoy both.

Karen Peterson said...

Oh, and I thought Jane Eyre was fantastic!

Sandy said...

In years past I always agreed with your opinion that the movie didn't do justice to the book. Usually because in the movie they couldn't share the thoughts of characters.

I still think it varies. But what I haven't appreciated is a movie whose dialogue was EXACTLY the same as the written words in a book. I've seen that a couple times but not recently. Don't ask for a "for instance." You know how poor my memory is about such things. I am also looking forward to WFE. I saw a couple clips from it and I'm not so sure it's been miscast. We shall see.....

nan said...

Interesting post. I tend to want to read books and then avoid the movie to avoid having my own imagination changed . . . and also, I tend to be a real wimp when it comes to violence and suspense in movies (something about the visual and auditory amplification), but I can read nearly anything (stopping when I have to pause). All that said, there are some movies I would see - and Memoirs of a Geisha is one of them. I loved the book, and based on your description, it sounds like I would love the film too! Don't think I could handle The Lovely Bones in movie form.

Terra said...

ok, the reason I think books are better...

because we paint the scenes.

But the movies are good too. Usually.

LindyLouMac in Italy said...

I do not mind watching movies made from books but I do insist on reading the book first!

ericastarrforbis said...

It seems to me if I love the book I will inevitably be disappointed in the movie, since they can never put the entirety of a book into a 2 hour movie.

But I've learned if I see the movie first & like it, then read the book, I will Love the book even more!

Most people want to read the book first, then they hate the movie! If I do it opposite I can still like both! :)

Star Forbis said...

It seems to me if I love the book I will inevitably be disappointed in the movie, since they can never put the entirety of a book into a 2 hour movie.

But I've learned if I see the movie first & like it, then read the book, I will Love the book even more!

Most people want to read the book first, then they hate the movie! If I do it opposite I can still like both! :)

Star Forbis said...

Sorry, once again my daughter was not logged off. Sorry about that.

 

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