May 24, 2013

Books v Movies?

When it comes to pure escapism my first love is and always be reading, but when I have a spare couple of hours I do also love watching a decent movie. Before I became a nurse before I became a writer I did a bachelors degree in Communication Studies which had a large film studies component so we watched, analysed and even made movies- (lots of fun and challenging to tell a story in such a short space of time).

So you’d think that watching a movie of a book would be escapism to the power of two…but we all know films of books that just don’t in any way showcase the real story (I was pleased when my young son told me he didn’t like the Harry Potter films because they weren’t as ‘real’ as the books because that meant he’d keep reading). But yet, I still like to watch a movie of a loved book anyway- and I always try to make sure I read the book first, that way I have my own idea as to what the characters and setting look like.

Until The Hunger Games—watching that movie made me go straight home and read all three books in the series- and no, the film isn’t exactly like the book, but it’s pretty darned close, I’d say- and if it makes you want to read the books then it’s done a good job. (I was recently told by my son's English teacher that one way to encourage teenage boys to read is to get them to read a book of a movie they enjoyed, or to read books with themes/characters from movies.)

There are of course lots of movies that disappoint- My Sister’s Keeper is a good example. THEY CHANGED THE ENDING! Completely- and even Jodi Picoult couldn’t make them change it back!! But even knowing this I was still compelled to watch the dvd. (disappointing).

I recently watched Life of Pi- wow what an absolute feast to watch, it is a thing of beauty- the cinematography is amazing. And the movie is pretty close to the book.

I’ve just finished reading Silver Linings Playbook and that is such a ‘cerebral’ book- in that there is a lot of internal stuff going on, so I’ll be interested to see whether the movie encapsulates the inside workings of the protagonist’s mind. And it has the sexiest man alive in it, so I'll take a risk and watch it!

I’m also keen to see The Great Gatsby- if only because it has had such terrible reviews here that I’m interested to see just how bad it is- but with Baz Luhrman directing I imagine it’ll be quite a spectacle!

What about you- movie or book first? Any movies of books that you’ve hated? Any that you’ve loved?


  1. Louisa, Lord of the Rings immediately springs to mind. The movie is not entirely faithful to the book, but I think it's probably better -- more streamlined etc. Loved the book and loved the movie.

    I actually quite like it when the movie is a bit different, and maybe adds a different interpretation. That said, when they completely change the ending (as in My Sister's Keeper), it does leave me scratching my head.

  2. I started watching Silver Linings Playbook but I couldn't keep it up. Maybe it was because I was watching during a flight and was over tired, but it really didn't grab me. I'm sure it would have been better to read the book.

    EAT, PRAY, LOVE is one movie I enjoyed and is fairly true to the book. I was discussing that with my eldest and her hairdresser today and came to the conclusion that the movie didn't show enough of the emotional journey Elizabeth Gilbert travelled, but then again, unless you're doing a narrative voice over thingamy, it's pretty hard to show that in a movie, isn't it?

    BTW, I had the same reaction as you to HUNGER GAMES. Watched the movie (again on a plane!) and bought the set of books when I got home and read all three. Which reminds me, I loaned them out ages ago and haven't received them back yet...

  3. Yes, film adaptation can be very different cant they? I think the best examples of this are the James Bond books - the films bearing no resemblance whatsoever with the books!

    I think they did a good job of Bridget Jones's Diary -although not so much with the second one!

    As far My Sisters Keeper goes - thank God they changed the ending in the movie. That film was hard enough to watch without knocking off Abagail Breslin's character as well!
    I refuse to even read Jodi Piccuoult because of her tragic endings!! Give me a HEA any day!

  4. Hi Michelle- LOTR of course!!! I read the books years ago and when I watched the movies I thought they were pretty similar to the books- but devout LOTR fans (like my son) tell me there was a lot left out! You're right, though about a movie adding another dimension- I'd never thought of it like that, more, I'd thought they'd taken something away from the book. But I'll look at it from your angle next time!

  5. Yvonne- I'm glad I wasn't the only one drawn into The Hunger Games! I sat on the edge of my seat for the whole movie and at the end I said to my son- you have got to tell me what happens next! (Of course he didn't!) I haven't seen Eat Pray love, but I did read the book- I imagine it would be hard to put all her thoughts and growth into a movie. (note to self: get it out on dvd)!

    Interesting what you have to say about Silver Linings Playbook- I can imagine it's a bit weird, because the main character's head is definitely full of weird stuff!

  6. Amy- interesting you refuse to read Jodi's books- she's a must-buy for me, I've read almost every one and I love them all. But you're right, she doesn't do happy endings very often. (Although I do think they're the 'right' endings for her stories).

    I agree with you on Bridget Jones- but then I don't think the second book was as good as the first either.

    And as for James Bond- what a wonderful example! The books are so so different from the movies- cue two very disappointed kids in my house when they tried to read Casino Royale!

  7. Oh god, yes, Louisa! I remember reading The Spy Who Loved Me then seeing the moving and thinking what the?? :-)

    And yeh, sorry, just a girl who needs a HEA :-)

  8. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, I loved the book so much more than the movie.

  9. I love it when books and movies work well together. I'm a huge Harry Potter fan - I saw the first movie and went out and bought the first four books (the only ones published at the time), then each other book on its release day. The books and movies were a little different but I loved it all. Happy sigh.

    Haven't read or seen movies for Jodi Picoult or Life of Pi. Saw The Silver Linings Playbook and loved it, so might hunt down the book.

    I read both Bridget Jones's books before seeing the movies and liked the books more. I really liked the movies, but felt they were making fun of her a little too much. In the books I laughed *with* her more.

    Great discussion, Louisa!

  10. Hi Tammy- I loved the charlie and the chocolate factory movies but - what the heck were the directors on??? because they were so much more outrageously 'out there' compared to the books!

  11. Hi Rachel, having said that my son was disappointed with the HP films it didn't stop us buying and watching them all (over and over again!).

    Good point about Bridget Jones- she does become a little cliche of herself by the end of the second movie.

  12. Great post, Louisa!

    I'm really keen to see the new movie version of The Great Gatsby. I loved the book and also liked the old movie so that'll be interesting.

    One movie I really didn't like was One for the Money from the book by Janet Evanovich. It just didn't have the same atmosphere as the book for me and Kathryn Heigl looked nothing like my version of Stephanie Plum!

  13. I was struggling to think of any that I didnt like until I saw Barbara's comment. I have to agree, as a HUGE fan of Janet Evanovich's, the movie One For the Money didnt really do it for me. Possibly tho because my Stephanie Plum has always been Drew Barrymore :)

  14. Great post Louisa.

    The Harry Potter movies are the reason our son began reading avidly. We read him the first book and he was shocked by how much was left out in the movie.