Why Books are Better than Movies

It’s an oldie, but a goodie

‘Have you read the book? It’s SO much better than the film!’

I have come to the conclusion that I  don’t have much to say to people who don’t read books. Read any book. Even if it’s Mills & Boon, at least it’s some sort of creative. I feel that people who don’t read, who don’t escape into someone’s story, have no burst of feeling, no thoughts of imagination or interest in to the complex world that is human nature. It is something I’ve observed for a while. I’m not saying that people who don’t read books are boring, I’m just saying that people who don’t read books bore me. I use a lot of lines from famous literature to get a point across in a conversation, and certain people (non-readers) think it’s my thought. While I’d like to take the accolade for using a line ‘I will show you fear in a handful of dust’ I’m pretty sure, if he was still around, T.S Eliot may have a problem with that.

Discussion of a book and the characters of a book cannot always be portrayed correctly in a movie. While I find the Toby Stephens version of Mr. Rochester, to be by far, the best representation of Rochester (Timothy Dalton was reigning Rochester until Stephens came along), I am yet to meet the same Rochester that I meet when I read Bronté’s Jane Eyre.

I think Virginia Woolfe sums it up pretty well as I can’t seem to articulate my meaning here. (May have something to do with all the noise currently going on at my house). In Woolfe’s article ‘The Cinema’ she addresses adaptation and her reservations concerning film as a medium potential. Using Anna Karenina as an example, she states

The eye says: “Here is Anna Karenina.” A voluptuous lady in black velvet wearing pearls comes before us. But the brain says: ‘That is no more Anna Karenina than it is Queen Victoria.” For the brain knows Anna almost entirely by the inside of her mind – her charm, her passion, her despair. All the emphasis is laid by the cinema upon her teeth, her pearls, and her velvet.

So essentially, what we see and what we read have different meanings and without the internal dialogue, how is one to know what Anna is thinking deep down inside? How are we to know, that embarking on a trail of revenge never ends well, when Hollywood have that incessant need to give everyone a happy ending as they’ve done in the 2002 movie of The Count of Monte Cristo? Garbo’s Karenina is so altered, I’m not even sure it’s the same story. How can this Russian masterpiece end in happiness? It just doesn’t make sense to me. Don’t even get me started on Holly Golightly and Fred ending up in ‘Happily Ever After’ in the movie adaptation of Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s.  Completely ruined the essence of the book.

All this means is that there ends up being a difference of opinion about certain characters, the book character and the movie character. I’d rather find out what the original author was trying to teach me. When we write, we always put a little bit of ourselves in it, and while I think some screen writers have something to say, I’d wish they’d leave it for their own work instead of intextualizing a masterpiece written for a purpose.

By all means, make some popcorn and watch the movie, just don’t expect me to be impressed when you think that every story is tied up into a neat little bow, stuck with happiness stickers. It pisses me off and I’d like to think that Tolstoy and Dumas would agree.

Read a book: respect the Author!


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