Sunday, November 27, 2011

Books vs Movies

Derek and I watched the final Harry Potter movie last night.  I appreciated how close certain scenes were to those in the book, and I loved the emotional energy the music added.  Overall, I was less disappointed than I expected to be.

You do not want to watch a movie based on a book with me.  I am annoying in the extreme.

To me, watching the film-version of a novel is like listening to a young piano student stumble their way through Beethoven.  You may be able to recognize the familiar strains and hear the potential for beautiful music, but it's nothing compared to listening to a piano virtuoso finesse and lead you through the wonder of a sonata.  There is a richness and depth to a book that is conspicuously absent from their film adaptations.  I watch a movie after reading the book and wonder, Where is the subtlety?  Where is the nuance?  Must everything be so patently obvious?

I realize that not all movies are like this.  The well-known problem is, when adapting a book into it's movie-version, you have to cut a ton of details, large and small, from the story, lest you create a 72-hour film (which I would prefer, but might not make a lot of money- not that movie studios are in it for the money or anything; I'm well aware those Hollywood types would prefer to be non-profit).  And every once in a while, you'll find that rare gem:  a movie as good as it's book.  Like To Kill A Mockingbird, for example.  Maybe The Princess Bride.  And... um... I can't think of any others.

Part of (fine, maybe most) of the fault is my own.  I nearly always read the book before the movie comes out.  It is way easier to listen to the seven-year-old stumble their way through Moonlight Sonata (Charming, you think, this really has the potential to be beautiful.  'A' for effort.) and then listen to the virtuoso play the same piece (Wow!  So that's how it's done), than the other way around.  You can't listen to the professional musician first and then the novice hacking away at the keyboard; it's likewise very difficult to read the book, then watch the movie.  It will never measure up.

One of my favorite authors is Dean Koontz.  I absolutely love his Odd Thomas series of books.  I recently found out they are being made into a movie.

I am terrified.


  1. Ahhhhh, sisters, separated at birth! We must be!! :) I watched the first HP movie and said I'd never watch another one. If I have two or three hours to kill, I'll just read the book again! :)

    This is why I am sad that the rights to Hillenbrand's book, Unbroken, have been purchased by Universal Studios.

    Help was pretty well-done, however, imo. I actually enjoyed the movie rather than sitting there grumbling to my fellow-movie-watcher about how they were messing up a perfectly good book.

    I seem to recall Stephen King's Dreamcatcher also being surprisingly true to the book.

    And I have to admit I enjoy the LOTR movies as a substitute to the books. The scene of destruction was actually even more poignant to me in the movie than in the book.

    But TKAM--as a movie?! Seriously?! I have never been able to bring myself to watch the movie. . .I respect your opinion, but don't know that I'm yet persuaded. . . :)

  2. I still need to read Unbroken; it's on my list.

    I'm too scared to watch The Help. The book was so good, I feel like Hollywood can't help but screw it up. Maybe I'll muster the courage someday.

    LOTR, yes, well done, but never as good as the books. I did appreciate the sheer effort it took to make those movies, and how close they attempted to keep to the books.

    TKAM-as a movie... Seriously! Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch? Yes. Beautiful and haunting musical score? Yes. Keeps to the spirit of the book (if not all the exact details)? Yes. I must insist you watch this movie.

  3. Giggle. Well. . .if you insist. . .I may have to submit, but if they ruin one of my all-time-favorite books, I am holding YOU accountable! ;) If you watch The Help, be sure to blog about it and let me know what you thought! :)


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