Books or Movies

A few months ago I was standing in the book section of Sams when I overheard the couple next to me discussing a title that had recently been made into a film. The female asked her male counterpart if she should read the book before watching the film, to which he replied that she would be less disappointed with the film if she waited and read the book afterwards.I found his response very interesting as I had just watched the final installment of The Hobbit and was again disappointed in its inaccuracy.

My husband and I have commented time and again about how books make the best movies.  Of course that is when the director sticks to the book. But unfortunately they most often do not. And I wonder why, if the book was popular enough to be made into a movie, do the directors not just leave the story alone.

There seems to be a consensus in Hollywood that moviegoers will not pay to see a film unless it is full of violence or romance or sex or all three. Consider The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien published this book in 1937 and it has been incredibly popular ever since. So why change it? Why make a single book into a three-part movie? Why add story lines that never existed in the original writing?

I can only come back again to the notion that movie makers are under the delusion that we won’t watch something that we thoroughly enjoyed in print, unless it appeals in some way to our carnal natures. In this case there was the added violence between Thorin Oakenshield and an Orc that never existed. I can’t help but wonder at how disappointed Tolkien would be to see what was done to his story.

And that also makes me wonder what living authors like Lois Lowry and Jeanne DuPrau think about the movie counterparts to their books. Were they as frustrated as I was with film versions of The Giver and The City of Ember?

So I think the young man in Sams had it right. If you don’t want to be disappointed while watching the movie, don’t read the book first.

2 thoughts on “Books or Movies

  1. There are some books that have been made into wonderful versions of themselves as movies, like Hugo, Stardust and Chocolat, IMO; but certainly the Hobbit and the Giver seem like a travesty of the Authors’ vision! I hope someone makes a proper Hobbit movie soon.

    I recently read the screenplay for Terry Pratchett’s Hogfather and the screenwriter/director said in the introduction that he wanted to be as faithful to the book as possible, and that was really heartening to read!


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