Never Judge a Book by its Movie

Never Judge a Book by its Movie

Truer words were never spoken.

This is obviously a personal thing, but movies have never spoken to me the way books do. Particularly movies based on books that I’ve read—they can’t fit nearly enough into the movie to be satisfying, so I’ve pretty much given up on those. It’s just so more fulfilling for me to read a book. You can really get into the characters’ heads. There’s so much more exposition; the story is much fuller, much more well-rounded.

With a book, you can go at your own pace. You can reread scenes at will—if you didn’t quite get something the first time, you can read it over and over again until you understand it and can move on. (Or give up on it if you don’t.) With a movie, it’s annoying to rewind over and over, or maybe you can’t even do that, because you’re in the theater or watching it with other people. And asking “Wait, what just happened?” will more often than not lead to you—and your fellow movie-watchers—missing even more of the movie.

With a book, you can read as slowly or as quickly as you want. In some ways, you control how the story moves. You can savor the words or skim them, or maybe your style is somewhere in between. With a movie, you have no choice—the pacing of the movie is decided for you.

Then, of course, there’s the matter of directors/screenwriters/whomever taking a book and basing a movie on it without actually keeping true to the book. The Shining is a good example of this, and is something I’ve complained about more than once. If you’ve seen Stanley Kubrick’s version of The Shining, you didn’t see what Stephen King intended. King himself didn’t like the adaptation because, quite frankly, it sucked.

I mean, as a movie on its own, I guess it’s fine. But the point of the book—that the evil residing in the Overlook merely took advantage of Jack’s weakness and used him as a vessel—seemed to go straight over Kubrick’s head. Kubrick’s Jack Torrance is a man already on the edge of insanity, just waiting for an excuse to break. King’s Jack Torrance is a recovering alcoholic, a man who battles his demons daily—but one who, for the most part, is in control. Kubrick’s Torrance almost uses the hotel’s evil as an excuse to hurt his wife and son; King’s Torrance fights the evil until it overcomes him. If Kubrick was going to change so much from the source material, he shouldn’t have called it The Shining.

Um, anyway. The point stands: don’t judge a book by its movie. Almost 100% of the time, the book will make more sense, be more fleshed-out, and just, you know, be better.

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5 thoughts on “Never Judge a Book by its Movie

  1. I find that movie adaptations are better when the author of the source material adapts it personally. John Irving’s adaptation of The Cider House Rules to screenplay was well done. I love both the book and the movie. Homer was a less world-weary: the journey that took him back the orphanage took a few years rather than 15-20. I think they clipped it where it needed to be clipped. The movie was gorgeous and well cast with a beautiful score.

    • That can definitely be the case! I’ve never seen or read The Cider House Rules, so I can’t speak to that one specifically, but I’m glad you like it. I’m just not a movie person in general, and when it comes to *most* adaptations, I know I should just stay away because I’ll hate it. =\

    • Yeah, I mean, the movie isn’t the worst MOVIE I’ve ever seen. Probably the worst *adaptation* I’ve ever seen, though.

  2. I have not watched The Time Traveler’s Wife but I love the book. So it’s on my not-to-watch list. As with Fight Club, I like the movie but I’m pretty sure that my opinion will change for the worse if I read the book now.

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