Hollywood has always loved to take a book and turn it into a movie. Over the last few years this trend has been picking up and it seems like most movies are based on books. Check out this list from goodreads.com of books made into movies https://www.goodreads.com/shelf/show/books-made-into-movies . Sometimes they are more successful than others. I actually liked the movies, The Help, The Hunger Games and Catching Fire just as much, or a little more than the books. But for the most part the movie always leaves me disappointed.
I am an avid reader. When I see a trailer for a new movie that is based on a book I used to run out and read the book before going to see the movie. This often left me disappointed. The movies never got it just right. The characters were never as deep as I remembered them and major parts of the story were often left out. Now, that Hollywood is pumping out “Based on the Books” more often than not (or so it seems) I can no longer keep up with all of the books I need to read before I can watch a movie. To remedy this I have started seeing the movie first.
This has turned out to be a good strategy for me. It allows me to go into a movie with only the expectations that the trailer have given me. I can see a movie and decide whether or not it will be worth it to read the book. Best of all, I can enjoy a movie! I don’t have to focus on what is missing, or how it could have been better. This also helps me spend my time reading good books, not mediocre ones. If I didn’t like the premise of the movie I am not going to waste my time reading the book. If the movie was good I will definitely check out the book. Since I am a committed reader I always get to the books after I have seen the movie. I have a suspicion that not everyone is that proactive about reading a story they already know the ending to. This makes me think there are disadvantages to turning books into movies.
Since life is busy it is a lot easier to make a two-hour commitment to a movie than to reading an entire novel. Once you leave the theater you feel like you have a good understanding of the story being told. It is easy to forget that the movie often leaves A LOT out. It is easy to forget that you can have a different experience reading the book. Author’s are usually very intentional with their word choice and the imagery they create. An author might not have as much control over a screenplay as they wish they had so the story may be changed in ways they see as drastic. Plus there is something so special about reading the words on a page.
Turning movies into books is a slippery slope. If you are a committed reader, like I am, it will help you narrow down your “to read” list. If you are not a big reader and you already know how the story ends it is easy to never pick up the book. Would it create more interest in reading the books after seeing the movie if more movies like Saving Mr. Banks were created? In that movie we get to watch what it takes to get the words to the screen. Watching that movie inspired me to go read Mary Poppins, a book I had never got around to reading, and boy was I surprised! The book was VERY different from the movie version created by Disney in 1964. Watching Saving Mr. Banks showed what it took to bring Mary Poppins to life. Watching the tension that comes with turning someone’s words into a movie that will be marketed to and viewed by millions was very interesting. It also helped show me that books and movies should not be compared. While they both tell stories, the stories are told in completely different ways. What works in a book doesn’t always work in screens. For now, I am going to stick to watching the movies before reading the books (unless the book looks so good that I can’t wait!)
Is it better to have seen the movie than to not know the story at all? Is it a bad idea to ever turn a book into a movie? Are there any movies you enjoyed more than the books? What books should never be turned into movies? Please share your thoughts!