Recently I’ve been thinking about the disparity between books and movies. Specifically, book-to-movie adaptions.
Before working with 11- and 12-year-old students, I hadn’t really taken the time to think about the differences in books and movies simply because I tend to separate them into two different areas in my brain: Area A goes to the book and Area B goes to the movie that is a totally separate thing from the book.
But since reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with my students, I keep hearing things like, “But Veruca Salt was dropped in the garbage shoot because she’s a bad egg, not a hollow nut!” or “They didn’t float in the fizzy lifting room!” or my very favorite, “Willy Wonka loves chocolate because his dad is a dentist! Why don’t they talk about that?!”
All of these are valid questions and concerns. But these are also totally strange questions to me and every time a student asks it I deflate a little more. The biggest thing I continue to impress upon them is that the book came first because many of my students struggle to realize that the movie didn’t create the book, but the other way around.
There’s this confusion — which I guess is because we live in a world where t.v. holds higher entertainment value for the vast majority of the world than books do — that the book and the movie have to be the same because one precedes the other.
I don’t think that’s the way to look at it. As we get ready to watch Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and compare and contrast the differences between the book and movie, I’m going to keep preaching the differences. Not because I believe one is better than the other, but because if we’re constantly comparing the worth of a movie or book to it’s counterpart than we’ll be judging books and movies simply because we disliked one medium.
So, what do you think? Do you view the book and movie as complements to each other or their own stories?