The Book Was Better


Hallie Lint, Staff Writer

     Books vs. movies: it’s a classic debate. Those of us who love to read believe the book is always better, but movie lovers tend to disagree. There is always an argument to be made for one side or the other, but what factors play into this whole debate? Are there instances where one group is right and the other wrong, or are the rules set in stone? Before you decide which side you are on, let’s get a glimpse at the book side of the debate.


     From the earliest black and white motion pictures to the newest 4k blockbuster, movies have come to be a huge part of how we see the world without leaving our homes. Just think, any place you want to see, any plot you can imagine can be experienced in just a short two-hour time frame! No wonder they are such a big hit. Movies have expanded the reach of our creativity by making the impossible seem possible. They help us experience the past, see the future, and bring mythical creatures to life. Any story can be turned into a movie, and novels are no exception. I have a love-hate relationship with movies based on books. They can often be… disappointing. I’m sorry if you do not agree, but that’s just the way I see it. I always get excited when I find out a favorite book of mine has a movie adaptation, but in the back of my mind, I wonder if it will be worth it. Books and their movie adaptations are often so different from each other. So much of the book has to be changed to fit into a film, which takes away from the story’s plot. The producers try their best, but no movie adaptation is ever going to live up to my unrealistically high expectations from the book. 


If you could not already tell, I am a little bit biased. Don’t get me wrong, I love a movie marathon as much as the next person, but there’s something about a good book that is just better than its movie adaptation. 


     Movie adaptations always vary from the book to some degree. You will never see a movie that matches the book to a T. A factor that plays into this is how the directors, writers, and producers decide in what direction to take the movie or show. A great example of this is the show Anne With an E which is based on the book Anne of Green Gables. The show dives deeper into the darker side of the book, focusing more on Anne’s tragic past than just her happy and carefree life after she is adopted. Other than the first two episodes, the show veers so far from the book that you do not even realize it is the same thing anymore. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it just isn’t like the book. 


     Books can include so much detail that it is hard to fit it all in one scene. If the smallest detail is left out, it can make the rest of the movie hard to follow. Because of this, a movie introduction is quite difficult to master. A chapter-long explanation has to be condensed into one scene in hopes that the viewers understand the rest of the movie. If you have read the book, then you might understand the beginning far better than someone who has not. For example, not too long ago I watched Pride and Prejudice (2005) starring Kiera Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen, which I would totally recommend. I thought it was really good, but it jumped around a lot, which would have made it hard to follow if I had not read the book beforehand. Even though I read the book first, there were still some spots that were a little confusing to tell which characters were which. Reading the book prior to watching its movie adaptation makes it easier for the viewer to understand what is happening in the movie.

     Getting the characters right in a movie adaptation is a must. Matching appearance is the easy part, although that is often done wrong, but character personality is a whole other story. Actors may be cast that look the part, but if they are not very good, it can ruin the movie all the same. All I’m asking for is an all-star cast that looks like each character in my mind and fits the part perfectly. Is that too much to ask? Yeah… it kind of is. Also, is it that hard to find actors to play parts that are the right age? So often in movies, the characters are supposed to be 10, and they are played by actors in their 20s. This sometimes works, but not everyone can pull it off.


     The timeline of a book is a big thing that movies mess up. An entire book has to be squished into a two-hour movie. A book can cover anywhere from a couple of months to a lifetime. That’s a lot of ground to cover in 120 minutes. Some movie series, like The Hunger Games, take one book and split it into two different movies resulting in masterpieces like Mockingjay: Part 1 and Part 2. This allows for the movies to include many more details from the book and make it closer to the original. No matter how many or how long the movies are, key scenes in the book tend to be left out. There may just not be enough time to include them, the writers might choose to exclude them, or they might be too difficult or expensive to film.  It is kind of disappointing, but it is something to expect from movie adaptations.


     Alina Cotlet, a sophomore at Dover High School, had this to say about the books vs. movies debate: “When I was in 8th grade, we had to read the book, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. That was one of the best stories I have ever read. It was emotional, and it had such a powerful message. When our class watched the movie though, I was rather disappointed. The book was so much better than the movie because it allowed the reader to form a relationship with all the characters. The movie wasn’t this engaging. Another thing that really bugged me was that the movie changed much of the plot, and moved too quickly during important events. Films often do this when they base a story on a book. Some movies do an okay job of representing the book, but most don’t. If you ever have a choice between reading a book first or watching its major motion picture first… read the book! There is usually a better story buried in the pages of a book.” 


 “I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading!”

– Jane Austen