Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Movie or Book?

The release of The Hunger Games movie trailer got me thinking about great novels and their movie counterparts. When you’ve read a great novel and it becomes a movie, which do you end up enjoying more? It seems logical that a writer would answer “book,” right? Well, not always.

I saw the movie The Outsiders long before I read S.E. Hinton’s amazing novel. This is sort of odd since the novel was published in 1967 and Francis Ford Coppola released his movie in 1982. Nonetheless, I loved that movie. I really cared about the characters. When I read the novel, years later, I still had Matt Dillon, Ralph Macchio, Patrick Swayze, Emilio Estevez and the rest of the cast in my head. I think this enhanced the reading experience for me. In the end, though, I preferred the movie.

On the other hand, I didn’t love the movie version of To Kill a Mockingbird. You might be gasping at this (the way you might have gawked at my liking The Outsiders movie a wee bit more than the book). I know, I know—everyone loves Gregory Peck as Atticus in To Kill a Mockingbird. But because I adore the novel, I had Scout, Jem, and Atticus etched in my head before I popped the movie into the DVD player. Even the great Gregory Peck couldn’t mess with my preconceived notions. Sorry, Mr. Peck. *shrugs*

Generally, I am disappointed by the movie version of a novel I love. Not so for the Harry Potter movies. I was mad about Harry and the Potter books, and thrilled with the movies. I do, however, try to put a chunk of time between reading a novel and seeing the movie version. I still haven’t seen The Help, a novel I adored (ADORED).

How about you? Does your love of a novel influence your opinion of the movie version, for better or for worse? Any thoughts on why?

For those of you who have read The Hunger Games: Are you anxious to see the movie or a bit leery? In case you're not sure, here’s the movie trailer: http://trailers.apple.com/trailers/lions_gate/thehungergames/



  1. I usually prefer books, but I did like the movie version of A CLOCKWORK ORANGE (not more than the book, but good in a different way). The old black-and-white version of LORD OF THE FLIES was pretty good.

    I also thought the film version of HOLES was very good--and I hadn't thought they would be able to do it justice. The main character didn't physically match my mental picture, but they really handled the story well. There was also a decent version of HARRIET THE SPY with Rosie O'Donnell in it.

    I didn't like THE OUTSIDERS movie at all, though I loved the book--sorry!

  2. I feel the same way. A lot of people pick actors that look like they imagine their characters to help them form a firmer picture in their mind, but I can't ever find someone to suit the person in my head. So when I see a film that was adapted from a book, I'm almost always disappointed.

  3. I've always loved comparing movies to their novel counterparts! Most times the book wins over the movie for me. The novels of "The Shining" and "Poltergeist" had so much great material in them that was not included in their film versions that it made reading those books after seeing the films all that more enjoyable.

  4. I almost always prefer the books. Movies lose much of the story because of time constraints and many times the actors don't match how I visualized the characters.

  5. I love the visual take of books I've read and vice versa whatever the quality - I just like how the same work of art is interpreted through words and visually (and sometimes musically, eg. Wuthering Heights by the gorgeous Kate Bush).

    I read SE Hinton way before the film and was just so so so so so thrilled when it came out.Also in the UK my friends and I pronounced "Socs" as ahem... "socks" LOL!! And it took the film to tell us that "socs" is pronounces as "so-shes"!

    Anyway - I am digressing! I so agree with you on the film of To Kill a Mockingbird - my biggest disappointment was the character in the film of the amazing and ever so fabulous Miss Maudie Atkinson!! She was so vital and vibrant in the book but was sort of washed out in the film!

    Anyway Harry Potter's Half Blood Prince and Deathly Hollows part 1 films were awful. Sorry. They were! Fab books shame about these two films!

    Take care

  6. I generally like the books much better than movies. But I did like The Time Traveler's Wife movie better than the book. I didn't care for the book. I was worried what would happen to The Narnia movies, but they were how I pictured the wardrobe and the Queen was awesome.
    I can't wait to see what they do with Hunger Games!

  7. I love the movie adaptation of the classics. Jane Austen, Dickens, the Bronte's. We can't know what their world was like, we weren't there.

    But in making movies of contemporary works, I think the magic of the book is lost somehow. Unless the director works closely with the author and has their insight, it usually doesn't fly for me.

  8. Ha! No apologies necessary, Jenn! : ) And thanks for the movie recommendations. I haven't seen HOLES or HARRIET THE SPY. I'll have to check those out.

    You summed up the problem perfectly, E.R.!

    Great point, Sabrina. Books do tend to have more details and depth, it seems.

    I agree, Medeia.

    Great comments, Old Kitty! Too funny about the "socks"! And absolutely about Miss Maudie--she was washed out in the movie. And actually, I do have to agree with you about the first part about HP Deathly Hollows. I'd forgotten about that one.

    Ah, yes, the Narnia movies, Terry! I'd forgotten about them. I did like them, too. I thought the Queen was amazing, as well.

  9. Anne, that's a great point that I hadn't considered. The classics do seem to translate well. Seeing history on a screen is a huge benefit.

  10. Hunger Games is one that I'm really excited about! In general it's hard for me to love a movie if I've read the book. I get fiercely protective of clipped scenes and missing characters even though I know it would be impossible to get it all. The one exception I can think of? Twilight! LOL Read into THAT what you will!!

  11. It's very rare that I read a book and loved the movie. I think it's because it's what you said -- you already have in your mind what the characters look like ,etc.

    Now, I haven't read THE HELP but loved the movie. So hmmm...I'm sure when I do read it, that it won't be so bad because I have in mind what the characters already look like...

  12. Lisa, your Twilight comment is hilarious.

    I would love to know what you think about the novel version of The Help since you've seen the movie, Karen. Meanwhile, I've got to get about seeing that movie.

  13. Usually I prefer the book, but sometimes the movies take things in a direction that I hadn't thought of and that I actually enjoy better.

  14. Yep, usually I read a book first, but often not. Like, I hadn't read TWILIGHT before watching 2 of the movies. The HARRY POTTER books are definitely better than the movies, but the movies are actually quite good (some more than others). I'm sure HUNGER GAMES will be a better book than movie.

  15. My love for one or the other definitely influences. I read the unabridged version of Count of Monte Cristo, and though the movie got rave reviews, I was so disappointed that it didn't live up to the book that I couldn't enjoy it.

  16. I agree with Anne. And, I also usually prefer the book to the movie. I absolutely loved Lord of the Rings and went to see the first movie cautiously, knowing like you with Atticus, that I had very clear images of what I thought the characters looked like. I was stunned and totally pleased that the movie makers got inside my head. The only character that just didn't do it for me was Frodo.

  17. I think the order definitely matters. Personally, I loved the HP movies. It was so incredible to see a book come to life in such an amazing way. Same thing with Lord of the Rings. OMG, such an amazing job on those movies!

    I wonder what will happen with The Hunger Games movie, because I love, love, LOVE that book.

  18. I always go to movies based on books knowing I'll love the book more but I'm still interested to see how it transforms onscreen. I'm happy with the HP movies though I still love the books more. I liked the TWilight books but the movies were meh (but I still watch them). Loved both the Outsiders book and movie! I also thought the A Time to Kill movie was better than the book. Can't wait for the Hunger Games! (even knowing the books will be better, the movie does look amazing!)

  19. With the exception of two movies, I prefered the books. The two movies? The Princess Bride and Bladerunner.

    And yep, I totally agree with you re To Kill A Mockingbird.

  20. Some of the books to movies work for me, some not. I think a lot of it has to do with if the movie's vision matches up with the vision I have as a reader. But regardless, they're still fun to watch :)

  21. Good point, Carol. Once in a while a movie does go off and become quite different from the book.

    Interesting that you saw the Twilight movies before reading the books, Carol. I wonder how this affected your opinions of the books.

    Ah, your experience sounds familiar, Janet.

    The Lord of the Rings movies are another great example, Bish. I loved those movies, too.

    I agree, Angela. I think what movie-makers can do with special effects these days makes a big difference in movies such as Lord of the Rings and the HP movies.

    You've got the right attitude, Kelly. My expectations can make all the difference, for better or for worse. I'm going to try and rein in those expectations for The Hunger Games.

    Bladerunner... Interesting, Lynda. I didn't know that was a novel! Ah, I'm glad I'm not the only one who didn't love the movie To Kill a Mockingbird.

    Vision. . . I hadn't considered that, Joanne. But that makes perfect sense. Of course how a reader sees a novel could be different from how a movie-maker sees it.

  22. Book. Book. Book.

    I'm so glad the HP movies were as well done as they were, and of course they couldn't contain everything the books could. Which brings me right back to preferring books.

  23. I think it depends on how true they stay to the story. If it's a story you love and they change it TONS, chances are you're going to hate the movie! I've seen a few movies that were done better than the book, though. Of course that is a very, very rare thing.

  24. I can't think of many books I've read and seen the movie too, but that may be because I'm not a big fan of movies. Seems to me that many swear by reading the book first. :)

  25. I agree, Marcia.

    Very true, Peggy. It happens, but it's rare. And probably subjective.

    It does seem that way to me, too, J.L. : )

  26. Bladerunner was based on Philip K. Dick's short novel, "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep." "The Terminator" and "Total Recall" were also based on his works. He had a real pleasant view of the future, heh heh.

    I try to be cautious when seeing movies based on books I really like, because it can be hard to judge the movie on its own merits. It's too easy to sit in the theater and say, "Hey! They skipped the scene where..." or "They totally cut out that character, boo!"

    Years ago, I saw "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" and loved it. I read the book later on, and didn't like it that much. My daughter just read it for her English class, so I picked it up and read it, too. It was fantastic. The movie is good, and holds up well after all these years, but it doesn't match the movie in terms of depth.

  27. I really don't see a lot of movies. However, I did see the Harry Potter movies, and I agree they were fantastic. I do read quite a bit. I have not read 'The Help' or 'The Hunger Games'. I will have to read them!

  28. Wow, Jeff, I had no idea about the Blade Runner, The Terminator, or Total Recall. Interesting. And now I'm thinking I should read One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. : )

    Oh yes, Maeve, I recommend both The Help and The Hunger Games. Great, great novels. Happy reading!

  29. If I have a specific vision in mind for what a character looks like, a movie can really ruin it for me. Same reason that I don't like book covers that show faces--because if that's not what I envision for the character, it sort of makes it hard for me to get into the story. Strange, but true.

  30. I just picked up hunger games yesterday...but am a bit sad to say... I just couldnt get into it. I hope the movie stays true to the book though, cause so many of my friends loved the book

  31. I ALWAYS love the book over the movie, so it's always a disappointment to see the movie after reading the book. The other way is the way to go. As for The Hunger Games, I just saw the preview at the movies on Friday and all I could think of was, man, how depressing is that story?! Children forced to train for then kill each other for the entertainment of others? Sheesh! Now I know I'll never read the book.

  32. I can't wait to see The Hunger Games movie!

    I tend to like books better, but I still love the movie versions as well usually.

  33. I haven't read The Hunger Games yet...and it's the most talked-about thing these days so I think I will get a copy and read it :)

    My tendency is to like books better. I always prefer to read the book first then watch the film :)

  34. Not strange at all, Julie. Actually, not wanting to see faces on book covers makes perfect sense to me. Great comment!

    That's funny, Michelle. I loved The Hunger Games, but there was a very popular novel out a year or so ago that I hated. Everyone else I know loved this novel, but I had to force myself to reach the end. It's interesting how this happens.

    Nancy, I thought the same thing and so I didn't read The Hunger Games for a long while. However, once I did, I was glad I'd read it. Just sayin'. ; )

    Susan, I envy you being able to enjoy both. I take sides, which is unfortunate.

    It is hard to hear everyone talking about a novel (or novels) that you haven't read yet, isn't it, Len? That's pretty much how I ended up reading The Hunger Games. I had to know what all the fuss was about.

  35. totally agree with you on the outsiders.