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The Book is ALWAYS better than the movie

Updated on September 15, 2010

My life is filled with books

There are bookshelves filled with books all over my house. In the living room, hallway, bedrooms, storage room and kitchen. We have enough books to start our own library. My entire family can make an afternoon of heading to our local Barnes and Noble and browsing through the sections. I can't get enough of them. I can't even say that I have a favorite genre. I enjoy mysteries, some romance stories, fiction, nonfiction, poetry, you name it, I will probably give it a look. I enjoy looking through encyclopedias and dictionaries. The bottom line is that I love the written word.

Fortunately for me, my children have inherited this love. A relative remarked to me that she was amazed that our children are often seen with a book in their hands because its seems that all kids are only interested in video games. That's not to say that our children only stay home and read, of course not, they have very active lives, but they can enjoy the simple pleasure of getting lost in a book. it that simple? Truly, a book is much better than the movie. I tell my children this all of the time and as a teacher, I made sure my students heard the same message. Why? THAT is quite simple. Although we can achieve the visual affects with a movie, it is often difficult to completely set up a scene properly when a screenwriter is working with a director that needs the audience to know every detail in less than 2 hours. That is no easy task.  Although I applaud the large number of screenwriters who manage it quite well.

For example, the Harry Potter movies. J.K. Rowling has filled each one of her seven novels with so much information, you truly do absorb it all until you have read each book a second time. She refers to character she mentioned in book one for one sentence in book seven. You must be paying close attention to every little detail. She gives background about characters that there just is no time to give in a film without the film becoming boring. In movie four, noone knows why the character Neville is so upset by witnessing the use of the torture spell unless they have read the books and know that the spell was used on his parents. The movie never touches that fact. Again in movie five, the issue of Neville's parents is touched on briefly, but the secret remains to all those who have chosen to watch the film rather than read the words.

In Dr. Zhivago, a scene where there is dancing is quite lovely.  While you are watching the movie, which of course is an incredibly beautiful film, you observe just that, dancing. However while reading the book, the scent of beautiful blossoms in the air is discussed at great length, and how that smell makes the characters feel. One does not know anything about the wonderful arousing smell while watching the film.

One of my favorite books of all time if Pearl Buck's The Good Earth. The Good Earth was made into a film starring Paul Muni. At the time, Asians were not permitted to star in Hollywood films even though this film should have had an all Asian cast. Immediately there is a visual problem. These are certainly not the characters in the book.  This was a good movie of course, but being a huge fan of the book, I watched and noted everything that was missing from the wonderful story of how Wang the farmer rose and fell and learned what is truly important in life by the end of his own. The words were missing. Pearl Buck's beautifully, well thought out words were missing. They were replaced with dialogue. Wang married the servant Olan who is a woman of few words so throughout the book, you know what Olan is doing and you can decide for yourself what she is thinking. In the movie, one can watch the face of the actress, but it so open for interpretation, one may miss something.

Of course, there are many people who prefer a movie over a book. They have spent all day working hard, maybe even reading for a living and want to take a break with a movie. Just take the magic of a movie and enjoy the visuals. I understand. I do enjoy that, I am not against this, I do not read every book behind each movie I see. But I am aware that if I am truly interested in learning more and getting more detail, I must open the book and look at those printed words.

I just finished reading The Lovely Bones and plan to see the movie soon. I am hoping that reading the book first will not taint my viewing of the movie. Susie Salmon was a character that I wanted to know, the writing was wonderful, it made me want to keep reading, to find out what happened next. I love that feeling, when I finish books like that I want to open the cover and start reading all over again, and savor the feeling.

I guess this is just me, agree or disagree, its fine, I don't mind. I am still going to fill my life with books. My husband always teases me that the Twilight Zone episode when Burgess Meredith simply wants to left alone with his books and plenty of time to read is me. I hope not, when he finally is left alone, his reading glasses break and he cannot read a word!


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    • eslevy17 profile image

      eslevy17 7 years ago

      I definitely enjoy reading books too, but the medium really isn't what should matter. Storytelling can be done in all sorts of ways and I view theater, film, literature, graphic novel and anything else as part of the same family, a means to an end. There are some things that work best in a certain category, and won't translate to another without significant changes, but there are some books you can tell aren't serious literature, and just waiting to be made into a cheap, disposable hollywood flick.

      I think 90% of movies are worse than the book, but that's just because 90% of everything Hollywood produces is bad. But in the hands of a great director a book can be improved. No writer is perfect, and if the director happens to be better than the writer, he's likely to produce something better.

      I looked up lists out of curiosity, and here are some famous movies from more or less now-forgotten books: The Godfather, Fight Club, The Princess Bride, the Shawshank Redemption, Forrest Gump, Gone with the Wind, The Wizard of Oz, and Schindler's List to name a few. If you read one of those books I doubt it'll have the impact; few of those books are remembered as essential, but the movies are. All that matters is quality presentation, and paper doesn't have a monopoly on that. Film just has a different set of tools, and sometimes cutting things out is an improvement.

      (Though I like reading books a million times more than movies, so I'm still on your side)

    • daisyjae profile image

      daisyjae 7 years ago from Canada

      I am addicted to books too, your house sounds like my house, with all the books lying around!

      I loved this hub!

    • profile image

      somanybookstogo 8 years ago

      I enjoyed reading your hub, and I haven't to this day seen a movie that toped the book it was based on!

    • Eric Calderwood profile image

      Eric Calderwood 8 years ago from USA

      Can't help but agree. When I watch a movie based on a book I have read I have to treat it as a separate story so that I can enjoy it rather than focus on what's missing.

    • purplerose profile image

      purplerose 8 years ago

      i totally agree, the book is always better than the movie. and i think you will find the same thing with the lovely bones. i actually cant think of a single example where i have enjoyed the movie more than the book. however i havent read the planet of the apes.

    • bizymomof3 profile image

      Joann Marotta Nellis 8 years ago from New York City

      Thank you both for your comments AND for reading my hub! There are definitely some exceptions, even I have to admit that. There are probably some totally dismal books that are made interesting when costumes, lighting, music and attractive actors are added. As a teacher however, I am still addicted to the written word, can't help it!

    • M. T. Dremer profile image

      M. T. Dremer 8 years ago from United States

      For the most part I agree that the book is usually better than the movie, but there are a few instances where I feel that the movie actually improved on the book. The first one is Angels and Demons. I loved that book, but I couldn't deny that it had some pretty outlandish things in it, and I'm not talking about the plot. I mean jumping out of a helicopter with only a sun shield isn't going to safely float you to the ground. They were able to tone down a lot of the crazy stunts from the book and focus more on the story. Another example is Twilight. While I hated both the book and the movie, I hated the movie slightly less because it had better pacing and a greater attempt at making the characters likable.

    • Aya Katz profile image

      Aya Katz 8 years ago from The Ozarks

      Bizymomof3, I enjoyed reading this hub. You made a very good case of it. I would tend to agree that when it comes to many good books, the movie is not nearly as good as the book. But this is not always the case. I think that the movie PLANET OF THE APES is better than the book it was based on.