Why is the Book Always Better than the Movie?

In the spirit of the newly released “Hunger Games” movie, I thought it would be interesting to reflect on the transition from book to movie and why some people argue that the book is always better.  I, myself, am not a reader or fan of the Hunger Games, but have been unavoidably overwhelmed by the influx of excitement via Facebook, Twitter, and television commercials for its recently released film now in theaters.  Though I did not see the film, my perception from what I’ve heard about it is that it was disappointingly bad.  Unfortunately, this seems to be the case for most book-to-film remediations.

Considering the likes of Harry Potter, the Twilight Saga, James and the Giant Peach, The Indian in the Cupboard, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and countless others, such films are constantly criticized for being subpar if not downright bad.  Perhaps this is because the portrayals in the film do not align with people’s own imagined descriptions and depictions from the text.  Maybe the film skips parts that were in the book or oversimplifies a plot/scenario/relationship; whatever the case, more often than not, the hype for such movies is met with utter disappointment and, at times, outrage.

Granted, it is merely impossible to please everyone, and every film has its critics, but it is certainly worth contemplating the reasons for why the book is always said to be better than the movie.  What do you think?

2 thoughts to “Why is the Book Always Better than the Movie?”

  1. I couldn’t agree more with your statement about why people don’t like films about books as much as they like the actual book. I think everyone has a pre-conceived notion of how the characters looked and what things were “supposed” to be like before a film about a book is released. I don’t think it is possible to accurately live up to the fantasy people conjure in their minds about a book they’ve read. As you alluded to, the way people perceive the content in a book is too unique for a director to appeal to all the time. I think conjuring up unique realities concerning how a book should be visually portrayed adds to the allure of reading. Maybe that means books shouldn’t be turned into movies, what do you think?

    I have only seen one movie that lived up to the greatness of the book, and that was The Pelican Brief. However, I may be biased because I love Denzel Washington as an actor and the co-star Julia Roberts is a great actress and a beautiful lady as well. I recommend watching that movie. I think the book and the movie were both awesome; I don’t like one any better than the other. Both are classics!

  2. It’s interesting, too, how *where* we’re reading about movies of books makes a difference. (i.e. Of the ones you listed, many that I’ve read about have been deemed, on balance successful translations, which raises questions about *what* makes a successful translation.) Fascinating.

    In related news, I would advise reading _Shoeless Joe_ & then seeing _Field of Dreams_. One of the best movies of a book evah. 🙂

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