The big screen vs. the book


Jamie Frank, Photo & Graphics Editor

Imagine this: sitting next to the crackling fireplace, popping a few handfuls of popcorn into your mouth, propping your feet up on the lush cushions of your couch and sighing as you finish reading the last page of your favorite book. You have just finished reading one of the best books you have read in your entire life, and you are just dying to hear more about your favorite characters. You quickly scroll down into Netflix, seeing if you can find a movie to distract yourself from the churning sadness building in your stomach after finishing one of the best literary works of all time, and stumble upon that very same book, but only the movie version. A smile stretches across your face as you click on the movie.

This is how many readers feel for the first time after seeing movie adaptations of their favorite books. However, other readers are strangely disappointed by their books’ mediocre counterparts. There are dozens of book to movie/TV show adaptations, and as fate would have it, some turn out better than others. A few very well known examples are the classic “ The Harry Potter series” (J.K. Rowling), “Game of Thrones” (George R.R. Martin), “The Hunger Games” series (Suzanne Collins), the “Divergent” series (Veronica Roth) and even more classical pieces like “Little Women” (Louisa May Alcott) and “Pride and Prejudice” (Jane Austen) . When it comes to movie adaptations, it can be sometimes hard to impress fans who have waited years to see how their favorite characters look in “real life,” instead of just in their head. For others, they find it easiest to skip the book altogether in favor of just watching the movie version, as it is quicker and sometimes more exciting. 

“My favorite movie adaptation of a book is the Harry Potter series because the actors are great and it’s fun to watch them grow up throughout the films,” senior Eithan Heifitz said. “A movie is easier to access and is much less of a commitment than reading an entire book. Movies also stimulate more of your senses.”

Movies can give someone a jarring emotional reaction during a character death scene, a breath-taking wedding or butterflies in your stomach when someone goes out on their first date. Music, actors and different aspects of film help to create a unique tone and emotional response from viewers, whereas books will prompt a different reaction from people. While reading a book, a character may die, and one person could have hated the character, whereas another thought they were grossly underrated, and the readers are allowed to create their own impressions of those characters. However, for movies, viewers are shown characters in a specific light to ensure that the plot is clear, and this can differ from how characters may be shown in books. 

“I think that a lot of the time book to movie adaptations can be seen as ‘bad’ because fans of the book will notice when certain parts in the book are left out in the movie,” senior Marissa Burton said. “Movie producers sometimes like to change the endings of books turned movies to keep that element of surprise, but some die-hard fans might want the endings to be the same.”

The discrepancies between book to movie adaptations can make a lot of readers upset, as the people only watching the movie are missing out on background information and general understanding of characters in the movies. Because of this, movies can be a “hit-or-miss” when they are based off of books. Nonetheless, there seems to be an endless stream of book to film adaptations simply because it draws in fans, and people are excited to go to the movies to see their favorite characters brought to life. Or for people not interested in reading, they can experience the book but in movie format. 

     “I would rather read the book before watching the movie because you can use your imagination more,” junior Sophia Novello said. “It allows you to picture the characters and the story in your own head instead of watching it happen across a screen. I think it must be really hard to produce a movie from a book that tries to fit into everyone’s own personal image of the book which is why it’s  pretty easy to produce a poorly made book to movie adaptation.”

Some other books that have been adapted into film are: “Rebecca” (Daphne de Maurier), the “Alex Rider” series (Anthony Horowitz), “Little Fires Everywhere” (Celeste Ng), “The Queen’s Gambit” (Walter Tevis), “Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares” (David Levithan and Rachel Cohn) and “The Witcher” (Andrzej Sapowski). These can all be found on Netflix, Hulu or HBO. Happy watching!