Sunday, August 12, 2007

Books vs. Movies

Hey, how are y'all doing?
Do you have any opinionated opinions on the topic of Books vs. Movies?
I will seldom come around and encourage you to check out the Comments section of any of my blog entries, but this time I can't resist.
There is, what I consider, quite a lively discussion that has sprung forth from what I had originally assumed was quite a benign Splash du Jour quotation.
The Splash is this past Friday's one... two blogs below this one you are reading now.
If you are feeling too lazy to scroll down, simply click HERE, and give me your two cents on this topic!
Wishing you all a great week ahead!
-- Cip


Matt said...

As av avid reader, my opinion can be heavily biased but I favor books over movies almost with an blinding eye. Even when the movie of Namesake remains very faithful to the novel, I still prefer--the reading, the whole processing of savoring the words, reading between the lines, and the unveiling of events--the book over the movie.

stefanie said...

Cool pic of Gandalf reading over your (?) shoulder.

kingmonkey said...

I'd like to point out what seems to be an unreasonable bias in the previous thread. I understand that everyone here is an avid reader, and I will not begrudge anyone that. I love the written word.

That being said, I notice that many of the posts dealt with the idea of cinema vs. literature in a pretty basic level.

To assume that movie adaptations are necessarily bad, or at least limited, isn't entirely accurate. This presumes that there aren't levels of 'literacy' in movies. You can sit an avid action movie fan (stereotypical action movie fan) in front of his favourite Jean-Claude van Damme movies for hours on end, but if seated in front of Memento or The Godfather, he could be hopelessly lost. This is because not all movies are equal.

On the written side, the same holds true: not all books are equal. Would you say the movie adaptation of a Harlequin novel is worse than the original source material? Probably not.

I'll admit, I'm guilty. I'm the one to come out of a movie theatre saying "the book was better", but more and more, I realize that one is not necessarily worse than the other as much as they are two entirely separate media, which can't be accurately compared. Largely, I think my apprehension boils down to one word:


Or if you prefer, essence, or soul.

The further a movie adaptation veers from the intention or essence of the original source material, the 'worse' it becomes, in my opinion. A book, or even a comic book, has an original concept, or goal in it's text. The story attempts to transport the reader from one point to another, opening whatever doors along the way it will. If, in the translation to celluloid, it alters that, or departs from that, I feel it has failed in it's attempt and is therefore 'worse'.

I'll give you an example that particularily irks me. V for Vendetta (leaving the argument of comparing novels to comics for another day). The movie adaptation, I have heard from friends and colleagues, was a remarkably intelligent action movie (I personally don't see how they get this impression, as I've seen much more intelligent action movies, but there you go...), and yet the movie pales so utterly, and completely by comparison to the original source as to be a mere transparent shadow of what it was. This I feel was a bad adaptation because it failed in telling the story that it was meant to emulate.

On the other hand, Fight Club, despite glaring differences between the movie and novel, still maintained the same intention. I preferred the book, but thoroughly enjoyed the movie, mostly because it told the same story, and it told the story quite well.

Just as a writer can use different techniques to tell different stories in different ways, the same goes for moviemakers. Some movies, and some novels, are clearly inferior, while others are fantastic. You can't compare one to the other because, again, they are two entirely different media.

The unfortunate fact of the poor quality of adaptations we see these days point sout to the popularity, as previously stated. The lowest common denominator. It remainds of of a quote from Adlai Stevenson when told he had the vote of every thinking American: "That's nice, but I need a majority to win."