The Movie or the Book

bolexh16Talking about Twilight, the book and the movie, in Tuesday’s blog comments got me thinking about books that have been made into movies.  These types of screen adaptations (television or film versions) are so common today, ranging from classics (old, respected books) to modern bestsellers (books that are extremely popular).

Personally, I have a very hard time seeing a screen adaptation after I’ve read a book.  In fact, I usually avoid it.  There are two main reasons.  First, the film version has no choice but to leave out parts of the book because of time constraints (not having enough time) and this, to me, changes the nature or scope (range) of the story.  Second, seeing a screen adaptation results in me replacing the images (pictures) I’ve formed in my mind about the book with those on the screen.  This is especially troublesome (a problem) when the ways I picture the main characters don’t match those in the film, and the film images replace those I’ve created in my own mind.  I can’t resist it.  It happens every time, and for me, that’s a sad thing.

This happened with one of my favorite novels, I Claudius, by Robert Graves.  This is a historical novel (story about real people in history) about the first Roman emperors (rulers).  In the 1970s, the BBC produced a miniseries (show with several parts) based on this novel, which many people had told me was excellent.  I finally rented the miniseries, but I couldn’t get the through the first episode.  The main character, played by an outstanding British actor, was completely different from how I had imagined him to be, and I couldn’t get past that (forget about it and move on).  Now, when I re-read the book, I can only see that actor, not the character I had created in my mind as I read the book the first time.  Another of my favorite books, Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurty, another historical novel, this time about the American west, has also been made into a miniseries.  Although this, too, received excellent reviews, I can’t bring myself (convince myself; force myself) to see it. I know that this is my loss, and I’m missing out on some very good films.

Are you like me?  Do you also have this problem?  Or, can you separate the book and the film, and not be influenced by the other?

~ Lucy

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31 Responses to The Movie or the Book

  1. Olexandr says:

    I think that this kind of problem has people which very good imagination. I don’t think that I have so good imagination, so I like to build my images after reading by watching the film… =)

  2. Gina says:

    I agree with you Lucy. However, I had an interesting experience recently. One evening, when I was flipping TV channels, I happened to come across a scene of a movie based on one of the John Grisham’s novel. I didn’t know what the movie was about at first, but the scene or the image was so familiar to me. It took only a few moments of thinking that I realized that it was in one of the chapters in the novel, which I had enjoyed so much! Of course, I had enjoyed the whole story. Anyway, what the characters looked like and what the background setting looked like in the scene was almost exactly what I had imagined when I was reading the book! The title of the book is “Rainmaker.”

  3. gregorex says:

    I think that our mind is the best director we can get, he knows all our preferences and can the best actors for us 😉
    I have similar problem with remakes, I think that the first release is always the best. Although it was different with Bedazzled (best movie I’ve ever seen), that one from 2000 year was for me much, much better then the one from 1967.

  4. elcomandant says:

    There are many movies or mini-series that have been made adapting a book. If you read firstly the book you will always like it more than the movie. I’m sure of it. However, this doesn’t mean necessarily that you don’t like the movie. The movie can be a very good adaptation.

    If you have imagined a character when you previously read the book, probably it will be different or, better to say, very different than the character you’ll see in the screen. You shouldn’t worry about it. I think is normal and you should accept it. You should open your mind and give yourself one opportunity of you like this new character more than the previous you had imagined.

    This issue happens also at the theater. Maybe you will have experimented something like that:
    “You go to see a performance and a few years later you’re going to see it again possibly in another city or country and it is performed by others actors and actresses, and different costume too”.
    Whether you like it or not, don’t have to do with the physical person who have performed both characters.

    I remember, when I was child, maybe fourty-five years ago I read “The Three Musketeers” By Alexandre Dumas. I liked very much. When I saw the first movie many years later I liked very much too. Recently I have seen another new version, and I liked very much too.

    This is my idea. Is possible that I didn’t understand well what you have written, due to the fact that my English level is not enough good. If so, I apologize you.


  5. emiliano says:

    My feelings are the same like yours Lucy, and usually after reading a good book if I have seen the movie based on it I could say for sure that the book was much better than the movie.
    In fact there are some books that I don´t want to see the movies because I have all the story in my mind and I don´t want to spoilt it not a bit.
    But with some movies I have the same feeling too and I don´t want, or need, to read the book at all.
    What I think is that it depends of what I have seen or read first. If the film was first and it touch inside me, then I don´t need to read the book.
    But this even is much more unusual of course.

    One of my great deceptions about films was Kubrick´s “The Shining” based on the Stephen King´s novel with the same title. The book is one of King best, and I like Kubrick quite a lot, but the film? Rubbish in my opinion.
    I read afterward that Stephen King was very disapointed with Kubrick’s work and as a matter of fact nearly all the movies based on King´s novels have been really bad, with some notable exceptions that I remember quite well.
    It is clear that I like the first Stephen King, now I think he is below his talent just a lot.

    I saw the miniserie “I Claudio” first and to me was great, in fact I have seen it three or four times as I think is of a high quality, and very amusing. Afterward I read the book and liked it more or less the same, and I think it was because the process was inverse at yours Lucy.
    My wife Cuca have seen the miniserie and read the book even more times than me, and asking her now she told me she likes both also, at least about this matter we agree that´s good.

    “Gone with the Wind” I liked the movie so much, and read the novel later. With both was pleased and the characters of the
    novel were perfect in the movie I think.

    Finally, yes, I agre with you Lucy most of the books are better than movies and our imagination is as wide as we wanted when reading a good book.

  6. peter says:

    I hear you Lucy,

    When you read a book ,particulary the one that you favor best, as the plot unfold, you become involved to the point that the story becomes a figment of your imagination( like it is really happening).

    Later on,when it is in the air that movie makers are gonna make a movie of it, you can’t wait for the movie to come out ,although ,you know subconciously that the adopted movie never live up to expectation by any strech of imagination.

    You know what,the sad thing is we fall every single time when the hype is up.

  7. peter says:

    We fall for it everytime

    Making mistakes is a way of life for me

  8. Nina says:

    I agree with you Lucy.I feel the same things as you! The only difference is that you explain much better as I can… I don’t like to see movies after I have read the book. It’s always so far away from my imagination and I’m very disappointed. I stopped completely seeing this movies, and also I never read the book after I saw the movie. It’s my choice and I have no regrets. Reading an interessting book is not comparable to see a movie.

  9. Martin says:

    There is always troublesome to see a adapted movie. But, one example is exceptional. “Gone with the wind” is a good example. I watched the Movie first. Several years later, I got chance to read the original novel. Both of them surprised me.

    Although the film lasted almost four hours, it still left out many parts of the novel. I like both of them. The reason may be that Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh successfully picture the roles of the movie.

  10. emiliano says:

    This subject is so good Lucy, congratulations indeed.

    Now I am remembering lots of books and movies that I liked and this is splendid to the neurones. Just I am remembering “Poldark” another TV serie of the BBC that was incredible.
    When we (all the family) saw it on the tv., we wanted the books and we have to wait some years for the books to be translated from the English.

    The books were very similar to the tv. script and as we were reading the books (6 books I think) we have in mind the actors
    who did the play so well done.
    Afterward when I have seen the tv. serie in DVD I have bought it and saw it all again.
    So to me this is a good example of books/tv. serie in a perfect armony.

    P.D. I can’t imagine another Rhett Butler, Scarlett O´Hara or Melania than Clark Gable Vivian Leight or Olivia the Havillan, even Ashley Wilkes fits.

  11. Peter says:

    Speaking of which ,Harry Potter VI is coming out in one month time . Let’s work passed it this time around.Go take in( watch) Harry Potter VI .Take my advice ,or you will regret it my friend.

    I Don’t know whether or not you have read Harry Potter . I Read them all ,and I am planing to catch the movie as well .The truth the matter is : if I don’t watch the movie, I will lose sleep over for sure.

    Got another recommendation, Catch The Hangover;it is hilarious.

  12. Akihiro says:

    In most cases, I like the original story in books than film versions like you.

    But “Forrest Gump” was different.

    I first enjoyed it by book, but the film version was much better for me.

    Friends, do you have some example like this?

  13. Julio says:

    Exactly, Lucy, I agree with you. It is better to imagine the story in our mind than watching them through a director’s vision whose view might very different to ours, in spite of the fact that seeing a fine movie may be a fantastic experience.
    This is why I believe books are going to continue for many years, because there is no a real substitute to our imagination, which is maybe one of the best magical gifts in our lives.
    Thank you, Lucy, It has been a very fortunate commentary. I have enjoyed writting about it.
    Best regards from Spain, Julio (Jack).

  14. Peter says:

    On second thought,we should cut The Motion Pictures some slack. Let’s not get all judgemental so easy ,so fast. To be fair , The Motion Pictures ( Lucy,Is just mentioned name applied for one particular company ,or for the Hollywood at Large?)They are doing their best ,under the circumstances.

    Pleas Keep in mind that Thinking ,or imagining is easy acting is difficult,and to put one thought into action is the most difficult thing in the world.( Sorry guys the name of the author skips me;I am terrible with names. My short memory sucks.)

    Visioning is something and bring it to life is something else.PLease don’t gang up on me to kick me out . Sorry that I did not side you on that . I tried to be honest with my dear Blog mate and myself that being honest with oneself is a worthwhile exercise.( again ,the name scape me)

    Yours( Cory from Jeff)

  15. Peter says:

    Copy from Our Unassuming, upstanding ,well-read, get together prof with his outstanding audio , and vocal performance “Dr. Jeff McQuillan.”

    P.S. Sorry Lucy, does prof come With cpital p in the middle of a sentence or low-case p? Sorry to trouble you.

    It is motion picture ,isn’t it

  16. Peter says:

    Blog mates


    With outstanding audio…

  17. Loreto says:

    Hardly ever I have enjoyed more ….seeing a film ….than the book original story. And many times, I have gone out to the cinema, very disappointed after verifying, the badly film adaptation to the original novel.Definitively I prefer to read a book, but against which Lucy’s feeling, I don’t want to lose the opportunity to enjoy also the film that is well done, and try not to think in the book, until the movie has finished.

    I have to recognise, that there have been some exceptions. One, it comes to my mind now, is “Memoir of a Geisha” (Arthur Golden). I enjoyed too much the adaptation, and the characters of the movie, approached so much which I had imagined.
    And other, that I totally agree with some of us, is “Gone with the wind” , a fantastic novel, as well as movie.

    I think that one of the best things that have “Read a book”, it’s not a monologue, you are not listen passively, You thinks, feels, elaborates, and participates in the ideas, the events, the circumstances that the author proposes to us. But the principal reason because for me “Books are magic” is ……The book doesn’t invade to us…..other situations, movies, television, theater, …….are able to impose their dynamism, their rate, and who receives the messages makes in form almost totally passive, because you don`t have the time or the opportunity to stop it and reflect, to imagine, or to return back, to recapitulate, understand, or simply, re-read and delight.

  18. emiliano says:

    Loreto, I don´t know what to say you, my mouth is open.
    I have read several times what you have written, so well indeed, and I only can say YES, that’s my feelings.
    Thank you so much by your nice and beautiful reflection of what a book is to a reader.
    I have to add nothing, all is said by you.
    Your English is incredible, please write more.

  19. Peter says:

    Nothing can be more influential than a mighty pen,and a mighty pen does invade us

  20. tetsuji says:

    I also like lucy.

    Every time you do a good job!

    Thank you very much!

    from JAPAN

  21. Peter says:

    Finally ,I got a chance to go through my blog mates’ point of view , and cross words( joking) about the topic in hand.

    Folks,I personally think the screen adoption ( thanks lucy) of a book is some how a variation of the book. It is how a director ,or a screen player sees and interprets a book to entertain us ,not religiously send us the message that the author wrapped subtly in words.And, my friends, It is what movies are all about, to give us the fun we expect of . They are intended to entertain us ,to lure us into a dark room,and above all to cash us out. Just tell me how many of us spend time and money to go watch a film ( art type kind of movies,thanks Jeff),almost none, unless you are a film critic or student. Books ,on the other hands, act merely as agents who represent the true character of their authors and the message they are trying to get across. So,I guess,what we have in mind at the time we pick up a relatively pricey book from a book store differs totally from the time we spend a couple of quids( slang for pound) on a movie ticket.

  22. Peter says:

    Cross words: When one says something and the second party says something in response to what the first party initially uttered.

  23. Peter says:

    Work past: When you cannot get past sth like Lucy does . You work on it and try to resolve and to move on. We call the whole process “work past.”

  24. Patricia Mendes says:

    Hi dear Lucy,

    I agree with you and I feel the same way about screen adaptations. When I saw Harry Potter (all from series) and Da Vince Code, I felt me disappointed. It seems that you captured my feelings correctly. There are two big problems: time contraints and replacing the pictures I’ve formed in my mind about the book with those on the screen. I really hate it. Sometimes I think if I were a writer I would not allow a screen adaptations about my books, because it kills the books, takes its sound. When you’re reading you traveling in the story, you create characters and places and faces etc… Suddenly the movie come in and destroy your dreams. Maybe there are exceptions but I don’t know. Reading some comments above, I read one where the guy said the Forrest Gump is a exception, really, the movie is wonderful, but on other hand, I didn’t read the book…hehehehehehehe….congratulations for your excellent topic Lucy!

  25. gul says:

    hi lucy,.
    i do agree with you that movie adaptations are a complete fiasco, but still i ve seen many of the movie adaptations. among all of them one which really captured my attention was lord of the rings, which is very excellently made. the one which can be called a completee disaster is off course da vinci code.

  26. emiliano says:

    I read “The Lord of the Rings” more than 25 years ago, and it was one of my favorite books along the years. My daughter Eva wanted to read it with only 10 years old and I told her it was a very large book to read for her, but she insisted so much that at the end I said to her go on….thinking she would be tired very soon. Nothing more far from the reality as she read the first, asked for the second and afterward the third. In fact she was ready to read only with three years old and she was always anxious to read more and more.
    I think always it was nearly impossible to make a good film with such a book, so long, so incredible good and with so many stories simultaneously.
    But I failed, and I think the three films are as a climb to The Everest and it was necessary too much love for the books of all the team that made the three movies.
    Thank you Peter Jackson, and thank you all great actors that assumed so perfectly well the roles of Gandalf, Saruman, Bilbo, Aragorn, Sam, Frodo…..and every one of them.
    I have seen the movies five or six times and will do again. Cuca didn´t read the book before, but after she saw the first films she wanted to read the book and did it.
    Now if I asked her do you want to see Lord of……once more? sure she would said YES.
    Eva my daughter didn´t like so much the films as I did, may be she was absolutely fascinated with the books and her imagination as a child was too much bigger than mine.

  27. Peter says:

    I cannot believe my eyes, forum discussion is still on.

    keep going folks;the more the merrier.

    I firmly believes comments brighten up the Blog

  28. bar jazzy says:

    first i want to say that it is almost impossible to Hollywood to unable making a kind of film, in this case, based on best selling books, for example. however, i sometimes feel disappoint and dissatisfied when the movie based on novel is not really what the book wrote. the film sometimes dismiss any parts of the book or even change. therefore, the film based on novel will be incomplete compare to the book, in this case if at first i had read the book. however the good film is, the novel version will be much more better.

    salam from Indonesia

  29. fatima says:

    Lucy, you are soooo right!!!

    so many times I have wished to have an eraser and can rub out my mind..

    I hate unwelcome faces and voices slipping in my head when I read (or reread) a good book with a poor movie.. and I don´t like either when I see an unsuitable actor playing a good character..

  30. Bruce Lee says:

    There’re now famous film series such as Harry Porter & Lord of the Rings.
    In case of people who firstly watch the film instead of books, they tend to read a book to know more details.

    We could take a look at the good examples on Harry Porter.
    Surely series of Harry Porter was popular for children in UK.
    However, as it made into films in 1999 for the first time, its popolarity has been spread to worldwide.

    Becuase there’s a characters being alive in the films so that children can be into them.

  31. Valerie says:

    I can say one thing- I am always disappointed in the movie if I read the book before. A book can’t be better or more imaginative than movie. Of course, there are some exceptions. For example, we have wonderful classic Russian novels “The 12 chairs”, “Heart of a dog”.(These books are very intellegent and people who read The Lord of the Rings or Harry Porter shouldn’t read them, no offense :)) They are good movies too, at least for me, but the books are still better)) In other cases movies are much worse than books.

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