Friday, July 31, 2015

Books Vs. Movies

A couple weeks ago a debate sprung up between me and a few of my friends. Which is better, books or movies? We live in a day and age when books and movies are accessible with the touch of a button. Where, in a few minutes, you can have any book or movie you'd like at your fingertips. That brought up a serious problem with a few of my friends. Most only read books when they were too excited to wait for the movie. Only a few read the books for pure enjoyment and because the books offered much more than the movies. With the advancements in technology, that line seems to be more of a blur than ever before.

In an effort to combat the book-lovers opinions of which is better, the movie-goers insisted that movies are easier to understand. It brings the books to life in a very real way giving characters an actual voice and face, gives the setting a perspective that the imagination can't quite come up with on it's own. I will admit that I have a very active imagination, but the world of Harry Potter was so much more intriguing in the movie than in my own mind.

Another point they insisted on was that books are anti-social. It doesn't require a group of people to read a book. It's a solitary activity, while a movie can be enjoyed in groups or for dates. I happen to disagree with this opinion. I enjoy movies alone. I don't want to talk during a movie, or be talked at during a movie because I rarely answer. It bothers me when people are constantly up and down to go to the restroom or restock popcorn because they've annihilated the jumbo bucket. I saw Jurassic World on my own, without children, and it was a freeing experience. I saw the complete movie from start to finish. I haven't been able to do that in years.

The last point they insisted on was the lack of action in books. There are no fiery explosions or tragic drownings. A pit of snakes is not as intimidating, raptors aren't as ferocious and the swords fights are not nearly as edge of your seat. It's tough to write fight scenes or other action. Movies flow with the action, giving your mind a visual to understand.

In the defense of books I must say that I enjoy writing a fight scene, I like the flow of my words on the page, like a dance of back and forth blows. Is it harder to do than actually acting it out? Of course, but in the end the sequence feels more satisfying.

While books may require more imagination than a movie, they have a level of depth that movies can't. You can't get inside the characters head in movies or hear their thoughts. Emotions are more involved and deeper in a book. In my opinion, more tears are shed, more laughs are shared and I cling to the characters in novels for much longer than I do those in movies. In books you're able to attach. Their emotions are not rushed for the space of time that a movie allows.

Movies often lose parts of books. There is only so much that can be added to fill the space of two hours, and sometimes things have to be cut. It's a sad truth and sometimes it leaves out the reason that a character is loved, or an important plot point or even a character that may not feel that important to the movie, but makes an impact in the plot of the book. I'll never forget the first time I watched Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. It wasn't my favorite book by any means, but I found the trials fascinating and when they left out aspects of the books I was confused and devastated. I'd imagined what this world would look like and I felt like they'd cut the world in half somehow.

There are pros and cons to both books and movies, and I will admit that I love to see a book come to life on the big screen. But I also go in knowing that things may not always follow the book closely, that parts will be left out. Sometimes I read the book before hand, sometimes I read it after. Whichever you choose, give both your best shot, don't get mad at the author for things that get changed in movies because they'd don't control it and just enjoy the different experiences, because that's what they are. A different way to experience the same story.

So, do movies do books justice? Do you always read the book first? Tell me in the comments below!


  1. There's only one movie I've seen that does great justice to the books and that's The Green Mile. There were still minor changes, but nothing that I felt greatly altered the overall story. Most of the time, I read books after the movies. I tried to read Harry Potter first, but couldn't get into it because I do not have a fantasy/scifi capable imagination. Once I saw the first two movies, I went back and devoured the books. With the visuals there, it was easier to fill in the pieces. It's been interesting to watch the adaptation of Outlander to the small screen. There's so much that's been condensed, but for me at least, I don't fell anything has really been lost. If anything, I feel for the characters more now than I did just reading the books. The two are complimentary to each other.

    1. I like that because sometimes books and movies really can work hand in hand.

  2. I generally prefer to read the book, because I find the combination of sight and sound in a movie can be overwhelming. If a book gets too intense, I can turn the pages faster or close it and go do something else for a while. Movies demand more of my attention.
    Though for what it's worth, I thought HP Order of the Phoenix worked better as a movie than as a book. The editing was tighter, and the streamlined plot got the important bits without dragging me through pages of Harry's angst.

  3. For the most part, I like books better. But Jaws and The English Patient - both were better as movies. Nice piece! :D

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  6. Books usually much better then their screen version, its too rarely when film is better than book. Reading, for me much more interesting - you imagine what you want an how you want. Films just show you the vision of director and others. Anyone can decide what to do)
    Bethany Wilkins from UK Top Writers

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