Why is the book often better than the movie? I’m pretty sure I’ve figured this out. Well, most people have figured out why a book is better than a movie, but I’ve figured out how not to be mega disappointed in the movie.
People often walk into the movie thinking the book will magically be shown in its entirety and they’re gobsmacked when one of their favorite supporting characters is cut completely out of the story line and the subplot about the characters’ tchotchke collection obsession is dropped. “That’s a major character building element that was missing. How do people who haven’t read the book understand the intricacies of that character’s mania?” And… “Henry Spellgood…he added so much to the story! I was so sad we didn’t see him at all.”
I call these viewers “purists.” They don’t want anything to change. They don’t want to find a single element missing and they refuse to accept the time restraints the film producers and editors faced when putting together a final product. They are the reason so many books are being made into two and three movies. Much to my chagrin.
I am not a purist.
Perhaps because I’m expected to write blurbs for my books, I’m accustomed to seeing the ‘high level’ story. I know – no, I understand – that you can’t convert the entire book into a 150-word blurb any easier than you can a film. You have to find the drop dead important aspects of a story and skip the rest. Often, simply introducing the many characters that stroll through a book onto the screen (especially supporting characters) takes far more time than their character is worth. Of course those quirky characters add tons to the book – just like they would IRL (in real life) – but on screen, having to condense their introduction and back story in order to make their presence make any sense, takes far more time than they are worth and so their important actions/characteristics are given to a more significant character and they are erased completely.
Now, do the screenwriters and editors always choose the important aspects of the story? No. And sometimes it really ruins the story and leaves viewers frustrated. They may think the reason the story failed on film is because Henry Spellgood was left out, when in reality it was because the screenwriters cut too much back story or the editors had crappy scene transitions.
But then there are the Harry Potter films. Perhaps their success is because the author was involved in the screenwriting process. I thought the Hunger Games movies were well done too. Was that author involved? Allegiant? Not so great. The Mortal Instruments (movie - I haven't seen the t.v. show)? Ugh!
However, I thought Eragon was better than the book and I was sad they didn’t continue with that series – even though I didn’t read the rest of the books.
Which books have you enjoyed as movies? Were any of them better on screen, in your humble opinion?