There is always excitement when a film is released that is based on a book. Moviegoers who have only heard of the book’s premise gain excitement from those crowds who have read and loved the book. After all, it’s why the movie was made, because the book was so successful. Crowds who have read the book cannot wait to see how a director has interpreted their favorite scenes, who has been cast, and oftentimes, what an author’s conceptions look like on the big screen.
Yet inevitably, more often than not, readers walk away from a book’s film adaptation with the same response.
The book was better.
Why? It’s simple; because through the passages of a written text, so much happens that the silver screen just cannot duplicate.
Oh, they may try: a film series to tell the story (Seriously? Three movies to tell the story of The Hobbit), amazing CGI (*cough, cough* I’m still looking at you, Peter Jackson), or even an elaboration on a book’s plot points that the author had not included (I mean, no one loves Legolas more than me, but . . .).
But even then, it is near impossible to adapt a book into a film and make audiences come away saying, the film was better.
The book was better, and that is because description, depth, and decision are privileges only readers may benefit from. Observe.
Beautiful camera work and CGI aside, films may only create imagery of sight and sound. But, through vivid word choice, authors can bring readers the ultimate sensory experience (OMG, reading is so awesome!).
Depth is something, too, that films just cannot offer like a book can. Characterization becomes more flat as audiences may not tap into a character’s sub-consciousness like in a book. The backstory may be glossed over. Two characters may have to be turned into one to fit everything inside that hundred-minute block.
But decision may be the most important factor in naming a book’s supremacy over movies. When I read Harry Potter well before the first film was released, the world of Hogwarts and its characters within my own imagination was far grander and intense than any of the films could produce—with the exception of Maggie Smith, but come on, it’s Maggie Smith (If you’re booing me, you probably live in the world where the Harry Potter films have always existed). Audiences love choice (You know you do.). It’s the reason there are so many genres of stories to begin with. When I watch a film based on one of the beloved stories I’ve read and the director or actor makes a different choice than what I’d had in my head, or a scene gets cut that was wholly important to my grasping the themes of the story, it’s the worst. I want to protest. I want to tell everyone why the book was better. And I usually do. I'm never short on opinions.
So, there you go. The book was better. I’ll show you what I mean.