I do a lot of reading, but I’m also a big fan of movies. And why not? Both mediums have the purpose of telling stories from perspectives different than our own.
Generally, though, if given the chance to read the book or see the movie, I go for the book. This doesn’t always hold true, especially for movies like “Coraline,” which was adapted from author Neil Gaiman’s children’s book.
With a few exceptions (none of which are coming to mind right now), the book is always better than the movie, for three simple reasons.
Imagination not included
Sometimes, technology ruins imagination. The purpose of storytelling is to excite the reader/listener, and to put them directly into the story. Books are more rewarding to me because it’s me doing the work: I’m laying out the scene, the background, the faces and props; I’m experiencing the characters’ emotions. In essence, I am creating the story afresh every time I read it.
With a movie, that is often taken away from me. Another person (the director) has taken away my job of imagining, and laid before me all the details so that I can’t imagine anything else. A set designer imagines the set, a casting director finds faces, and the actors experience the emotions. I can still enjoy the story, but it’s just not the same.
Better characterization/character development
I love characterization, probably because it’s closely related to psychology. I love see what makes a character tick, and I love hearing their thoughts (when the book is written from their perspective). Books can be long, hundreds or thousands of pages — plenty of room to develop characters and get the story from multiple angles.
But of necessity, a film version can’t encompass all the text. Even the last installment of the Harry Potter films had to be released one half at a time, and even then I’m sure not every detail of the books are included.
Things get skipped, and I miss out on back-stories and character development. This makes me like the characters less, and to not understand them as well as I could have had I read the book.
The bane of all authors’ existence: when someone takes something over which you have slaved (it’s an insane process) for months, if not years, and then proceeds to “adapt” it, with the intention of making it more “palatable” to a film audience.
A book is a whole and complete entity, printed exactly (in most cases) the way the author intended it. I’d rather read an authentic work than see a hack job of a film adaptation.
So am I crazy? Can you think of any examples where the movie is better than the book? Let me know in the comments.