The Book Was Better

By Allison Miller

Why is it that when movies are adapted from books they generally leave the original fans either disappointed, upset, or both? Why would people who have been fans of a series for so long not be completely ecstatic about their favorite books being shown on the silver screen? If they loved the written version so much, why wouldn’t they adore the video version just as much? Maybe they enjoy their own imagination more. Maybe the movie had many errors. Maybe they simply weren’t satisfied with the actors’ portrayal of their favorite characters. Whatever the reason for the audience’s dissatisfaction, these are a few of the reasons why the book was better.

  1. The plot can sometimes stray from the original in film format. When movies that have been adapted from books are released, they tend to get much more criticism for their plot. Many times, original readers will admit that a movie could have been great if it hadn’t been based off a written work. When the crew of a movie changes things about the story’s plot, readers tend to pick it out as something that didn’t go the way they remembered. This was the case with the Percy Jackson films. So many major plot points were changed in the film that only the basic parts of the story were present, which caused much backlash from audiences at both the first and second movies.
  2. A reader’s favorite character could have less character development or even disappear from the storyline altogether. Many movies take only the traits that they want to emphasize for certain characters when they portray them, making a slightly shy character not talk to anyone, or a humorous character only crack jokes. Movies tend to show one character trait rather than the development of the story’s characters overall. Some characters who are deemed ‘unimportant’ by scriptwriters are completely omitted, such as the character of Peeves in the Harry Potter movies. If the deleted characters provided comic relief or any smaller plot point, their roles tend to get pushed on the other characters, causing the earlier issue of a too funny or too shy character.
  3. Many readers would rather get to imagine the way characters and scenes look for themselves rather than have their creativity stifled by a concrete vision of what everything actually looks like. Fans who create art of characters from books love having their medium unrestricted by appearances. It is much more fun to share your own interpretation of how something is when you aren’t confined to the limits of solid looks of characters.
  4. Even if the plot is mostly seamless in a movie adaptation between paper and screen, there are always slight differences between how scenes happen. Memorable lines are left out or a minuscule exchange between characters that changed both personalities can be easily missed.
  5. Movies leave out huge chunks of books, yet tend to be overdramatic when showing certain details. Things like love stories, violence, and explicit language tend to be overused in movies for the sole purpose of captivating the audience when other things could do a lot more with much less.

Though movies are filled with action and musical scores that keep the eyes of the audience glued to the screen, most movie adaptations do not live up to the standards of the reader’s expectations. Many movie producers replace their favorite scenes with special effects and inflated love storylines that aren’t crucial and, in extreme cases, cause the quality of the movie to decrease. Characters are changed to display only their most prominent characteristics rather than showing them all as complex and deep, the way they were written.

Due to all the flaws that surface during the transition between book to screen, most readers have learned not to get their hopes when it is announced that one of their favorite books is going to be shown on the big screen for millions of people to see. Even though most movie adaptations of books fail to please, there are always some exceptions, in some cases where entire scenes of the movie are word for word accurate to the book. Regardless, it is only after examining all the different factors of both the book and the movie that we should decide whether or not the book was better.