Thursday, 22 May 2008

Books on Film

I think I just made a Duran Duran reference in my post title, but I'm not wholly sure...

Thursday, and time for me to kick back from creative thought, and just copy the good people of Booking Through Thursday - and, of course, invite you to do likewise.

Books and films both tell stories, but what we want from a book can be different from what we want from a movie. Is this true for you? If so, what’s the difference between a book and a movie?

I think we've talked about that here in the past, though not certain - it is one of those questions which comes up perenially. Quite a while ago, I picked out all the DVDs I owned which were adaptations of literature or connected to literature in some way - quite a few, was the answer.

I resolutely believe that books are simply better than films, if the book came first - even if I enjoy the film more, or think it has better creative artists behind it, it remains a derivative and thus subordinate. True, you can point at Shakespeare and disprove me, as he had barely an original plot line, but still...

What do I like for in a book and what in a film? I'm happy if a film shows me one level; one story. Beauty is a nice bonus, but it is rather too easy - even the worst director can film a meadow and it will look beautiful. It takes a great writer to make that same meadow appear for the reader, in all its beauty, and not simply a word. So, from a book, I look for an interesting plot - but, more importantly, a individual and captivating style. Some depth of thought, some longevity. I probably won't read it in one go (as I would watch a film in one go) and so I want something I can live alongside, rather than compartmentalise into an evening...

Demanding, aren't I? Howsabout you?


  1. I don't think one medium is better than the other. They are just different. Happy BTT.

  2. The Godfather series were great movies but the novel is wooden. Catch 22 a great book and lousy film. Rebecca a great book and a great film. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (aka Bladerunner) a great film and a great story with little relationship to each other! So don’t you just hate it when the facts don’t fit to a theory!!!

  3. I think I could give you a good run for your money books to DVD wise. Not at home at the moment, but since my intention was to post about this very subject, I shall do so this very evening. (Serves me right for being slow!)

    As for whether one medium is the best - well, for the most part I would have to say that I agree with you. Books give more to the senses than a film does, and unless you swallow a book in a day (as I am sometimes wont to do) you can make it last.
    There are some books that I would much rather watch the film of though: 'The English Patient', 'Gone With the Wind' are two that spring to mind!

  4. Try reading The Cider House Rules. Just try it.

    I think your allowing yourself to be blinded by your love of books: there is much that books can do which cannot be achieved on film, but the converse is similarly true. Naturally a film version of a book is not by default inferior, and even a great book can be made more striking and emotionally powerful on the big screen.

  5. Sorry - "you're". I'm very tired.

  6. Personally, I haven't yet found any books featuring Vin Diesel as a nanny. Until then, cinema must triumph.


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