Books or movies. I love both. Each of them have great qualities. However, I am most often confronted with the fact that books are better than movies. Books are pictures for the mind, while movies are most often pictures for the eyes.
Perhaps it really isn’t fair to compare the two. Books can have many hundreds of pages to explore a topic, to describe and to present a story. Movies have a limited time span. They’ve got to get their message out in less than 2 hours usually. This is true. I must point out, however, that movies benefit from music and sound effects. While this may seem small, I can assure you that this is a very important part of a movie.
On the plus side, I have to thank some movies for introducing me to a book. Had I not seen the film, I wouldn’t have even heard of the book. In fact, if I see a decent film, one of the first things I do is get on the internet and see if the movie was based on a book (thank you imdb.com). If it is, I will try my best to track it down and read it.
Most recently I watched the film Eddie and the Cruisers. It was quite a good film, with believable characters (Tom Berenger did an especially good job of emoting Paul Newman)\ a compelling storyline and a solid ending. The soundtrack was quite memorable too. When I watched the credits I noticed a “based on ” credit for the book. I checked it out of the library later that same day.
The book was good. It told a straight ahead story that the film followed quite faithfully. Its tone was a little darker, and its resolution somewhat grittier. but it still worked quite well. As for a read, it was quite compelling and I finished it rather quickly.
Here is a list of books that I have read (and can remember) that outshone the films they were made into.
A Prayer for Owen Meany
The Time Travelers Wife
About a Boy
The Sun Also Rises
Of course some movies might equal the books they came from.
I think this is true when one thinks of spy novels.
As long as they are done correctly, films, with their shortened storylines, probably make those worlds more accessible.
Here is a list of films I believe were as good as the books they were based on (and didn’t stray to far from the original storyline)
The Quiet American
|the novel Die Hard was based on
As for films that outshone their books (I would have put the Bourne movies in this pile, but when you change the story so much, I refuse to make a comparison) I can only think of one. The movie Die Hard is based on a book. A lot of what happens (though not all) comes from the book. Thanks, in part, to some witty humour, good special effects, and good pacing, the film is much more enjoyable than the book.
If you would like to add any books for films to this list, please do so.