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Why the Movie Isn't Like the Book

Updated on August 13, 2015

The Book is Always Better than the Movie

That's what we usually hear when any adapted title is mentioned. It doesn't matter if it´s Harry Potter or Shakespeare, people will always claim that the book, series, play or any other kind of written piece is better than the movie adaption.

While that may be true opinions on those movie adaptions still differ.

Some like the movie, though they still prefer the book, while others do not like it at all. It is like with everything else a matter of taste.

The movie adaption might not be bad but the book will always be better, simply because it tells the story better and has a lot of more insight than the movie can fit into two and a half hours of screen time.

And that's Okay

Imagine you've seen a movie that you really enjoyed and then you find out that it was based on a book hence your natural curiosity leads to you acquiring said book and you crack it open immediately. While reading the book you might come across several scenes that were not included in the movie adaption and some places, characters or lines might be completely different or in rare cases everything might be completely the same.

When reading a book after watching the movie you discover many more details about the characters, the places, and the plot. You are taken deeper into the world of that book and you get a better understanding of everything because the book holds so many more details than the movie gave you.

Or imagine that you read a really good book and you find out it is being made into a movie and you are one of the first to go see it when it premieres in cinemas. You know the story beforehand and you've seen the trailer so you already know what this movie is going to be about. The movie starts playing and you recognize the setting and the characters and you already know everything but suddenly you see something that you don't recognize. You don't understand what's going on because hey, that wasn't how it was in the book and what is that character doing there? He wasn't the one who did that? Wait! What happened to the-?

When the movie is over you have a mental list of things that were in the book but not included in the movie. It might be a subplot that was left out or an important line that was rewritten or a character that was not included or a character looking different than described in the book. There are lots of different ways a movie adaption can go wrong. But the movie isn't completely like the book.

If the Movie was Completely Like the Book

What fun would that be? Why would you want it to be identical down to the tiniest details?

If you don't like the movie you will always have the book, which you can read again and again as many times as you wish. You can read the book till you know it by heart, word by word. There are probably a few favorites scenes that you would love to see on the big screen but then again you don't because you don't want the disappointment if the scene is not done to your satisfaction.

We know now from experience that the chances that the movie will be exactly like the book are very slim. So instead of hoping for that to be the case before watching the movie based on our newest favorite book we wonder, How good will it be? How much like the book will it be? What will be similar? What will be different? And how will *insert scene here* be approached?

In truth it isn't interesting when we know what is going to happen the entire time. Movie adaptions need at least one or two surprises. It can be an added joke or an extra love scene or something else but to keep it interesting to watch it needs to not be totally predictable.

I have encountered very few adaptions that were exactly like the book with little to no changes and while those were still good it made the experience of reading the book afterwards or watching the movie afterwards less exciting than it could have been if there were a few more surprises. When I did encounter one such movie/book I was left disappointed thinking, "Was that it?"

One movie that I found to be eerily similar to its book was "The Perks Of Being A Wallflower" by Stephen Chbosky. I personally loved the movie and the book and I honestly can't say which of them I love more but the movie stayed very true to the book, the only major different thing, though not very important to the plot, was that the movie took place in the 21st century whereas the book was set a couple of decades earlier, which was done to make it more relatable for today's audience I'm sure. The main reason for this movie being so faithful to its book was because Chbosky himself was very involved in the production of the actual movie, which was also the case with "Ronia, The Robber's Daughter" a movie originally Swedish by the famous Swedish children's author Astrid Lindgren, who was very involved in the film production as well, which resulted in the movie being identical line by line.

In the case of Rick Riordan, the author of the series of New York Time bestsellers, "Percy Jackson And The Olympians" it went in the completely opposite direction. Much of the plot was changed, including the age of the characters and even the main villain and lots of other key elements that they tried to work in later. While the movies about Percy Jackson were good on their own they received much negative criticism because they were changed too much from the books, which ultimately resulted in the series of films being discontinued leaving only two out of five planned movies completed.

Books and Movies will Always Be Different

Because some books are just too long to be fit into a movie with the maximum duration of three hours without taking some parts out. And some things that work in books might not necessarily work so well on the big screen. Having the movie be exactly like the book can bore those who have already read it.

When we read a book we envision everything in our heads and that's why we do not experience the story in the same way because our minds are not the same and even if all the sets and characters matched the descriptions in the book it still wouldn't be an accurate enough description of what we each saw in our own minds as we read about it.


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    • Wavie profile image

      Wavie 2 years ago

      Exactly. That was one of my points with this article. The best movie adaptions are the ones who are supervised by the author.

      I'm sorry to say that I never got beyond the first couple of chapters of Lord of the Rings and I fell asleep during the movies so I wouldn't know how good they were but I plan on reading the entire trilogy at one point.

      Glad you liked my hub.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image

      Kathleen Cochran 2 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Writing a screenplay seems to be a different skill set than writing a book. The movies that have most closely followed their books usually involve the author to some degree, at least as a consultant. "Outlander" the movie has had several screenwriters for its episodes, but Diana Gabaldon is a consultant on all of them. I think they are doing a good job of following a very lengthy novel.

      My husband and children will never forgive Peter Jackson for what he did to their beloved "Lord of the Rings." Yet, people who didn't know those books inside and out generally liked those movies.

      As a rule, I try to read the book before the movie comes out. I like to let my imagination run unfetered before Hollywood tells me what to think.

      Great idea for a hub!