For this week’s Me Monday, I’ve decided to skip talking about me since there’s only so much about me that I can cover. So, I’m just going to randomly blog about something I ponder. As you all know, I read a lot of books and watch a lot of movies. There’s always been a lot of overlap between the two. Inevitably, people compare the movie to the book. It makes sense, of course, but that’s not always a fair comparison to make.
See, books and movies are two vastly different mediums. That seems obvious, but people often seem to forget that. No, I’m not saying that people can’t tell the difference between a book and a movie because, well, it’s pretty obvious. What I’m saying is that people forget that books and movies tell stories in completely different ways due to the nature of their respective mediums. You can tell a very internal story in a book. You can follow the character’s thought processes and growth while staying completely in the character’s head. To do that in a movie requires a lot of voice overs or other sorts of sequences that can be next to impossible to use effectively.
A movie can do visually what the imaginations of readers do for books. That’s one of the reasons why it’s unfair to compare the two of them. It’s difficult for a movie, any movie, to compare favorably to the perfect pictures already in a reader’s mind. It’s a rare movie that can accomplish that. Again, they are mediums meant for different forms of storytelling, and movies can really make clear some of the things that may have been murky in a book.
There are, of course, times when it’s totally valid to compare a book and its movie. See, one of the hallmarks of a great film adaptation of a book is that the film gets the core message and themes of its source material. If you’re going to adapt a book, you should have at least read the thing and tried to understand what made fans love it. Too many films just sort of glance at the book, maybe skim a few pages, and then write whatever script suits them and the suits on the executive floor. I’m not going to name names here (*coughcough*World War Z*coughcough*) but it’s a definite problem. Just keep in mind that it’s one thing to completely butcher the plot and message of a beloved book and quite another thing to make some cuts and edits for pacing and plot concerns. I know that there are times when it’s disappointing to have whole subplots removed for the sake of time, but you can’t always put everything on the page into a movie unless you want it to be a super long movie. No one’s got the attention span for that.
I was going to start listing some more book to movie adaptations and how they may have failed or succeeded. That, however, sounds like something I’ll do much later. It’s going to take a lot of time to compile and sort through them. Long story short, there are valid criticisms to throw at an adaptation and then there are times when you’re just being nitpicky. My trick for reconciling the two is to remind myself that they are two separate entities who will always tell their stories in different ways. If I’m entertained and the movie stays true to the heart of its original story, I’m going to call it a win and try not to think too much about it.