Books vs. Movies

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? 

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10 thoughts on “Books vs. Movies

  1. I always used to be of the opinion that a film adaptation of a book had to be a direct copy of the book or it was doing the book an injustice. After seeing the differences between The Mortal Instruments and Shadowhunters however I soon placed them as two completely separate things in my mind. I think doing that enriches the experience because I can love both and not constantly rate them against each other!

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    1. I was the same way. I changed my point of view a bit when Jenn told me that she sees one as it’s own story and the other as its own story. It’s really helped me and like you said, I too, feel it enriches the experience.

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  2. That’s a good point. I generally can’t separate the two. I can to some extent. I’m okay with some changes and I realise that some things work well in a book but might not work in a movie. So I would say, as long as the majority of the adaptations stays true to the original and the changes that are made, are made so that they’re in line with the original characters/ story, I’m okay with it. But when it’s taken to a point where it’s out of character, where it feels different… I don’t like it anymore and I can’t look at is as a separate thing. Even if the new story isn’t necessarily bad… it just bothers me.

    Especially with some books, I get very protective. A good example for me is Game of Thrones. I love the first few seasons of the show, but the later seasons derail so much from the story and take the characters in different places. And I recognise that it’s still a very good show, but it really upsets me that they’ve diverted so much and I had to stop watching it. I’m sure I will still finish it once the book series is complete. I’ll just watch the whole show and try to distance it from the books, because it really is such a good show. But for now, I can’t. It just upsets me.

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    1. I actually really agree with you. Miss Peregrines Home For Peculiar Children is one of my favorite stories/series and when I saw the movie I was so upset with how different it was (I mean one of the main character WASN’T EVEN THE REAL MAIN CHARACTER). In these situations I refuse to acknowledge the film adaption.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I struggle to separate the two – although I will (most times) happily accept changes I deem them to be in the spirit of the original. I LOVE PJ Hogan’s ‘Peter Pan’, which quoted from the book but also gave Wendy much more to do, and the most recent ‘Prince Caspian’ fleshed the book out really nicely.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree. I have no problems with changes unless they completely change the story. That’s when it becomes harder for me to accept it as a film adaption and have to see them as two completely different things.

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  4. I try to keep an open mind and treat the two as separate entities. They are such different mediums that they have to be different and it is interesting to see the differences. I will always read the book of a film I have liked but there are a few books that I love so much I’m not sure I could cope if they were made into a film x

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