Books vs Movie Adaptations

by Angella Jacob

April 5, 2011

Perhaps I just never noticed before, but it seems that recently there has been an increase in the amount of movie adaptations stemming from books. Whether it be classic stories from centuries ago, (Red Riding Hood), or a contemporary author's work that is then released on the big screen (Harry Potter). The art of movie adaptation is a very impressive craft, with thousands of hours of work put in from conception to end product delivered to the viewers. I can understand the desire to want to bring alive a good story and see it on screen. An avid movie lover, I often watch movie adaptations of books I have read and enjoyed. The one downfall to this is sometimes after watching the movie, I am no longer interested in reading the book. (Those who know me well will know what sparkling adaptation I am referring to).

Is the recent increase of adaptions due to a lack of creative fiction writers? I find that highly unlikely as the cause. Perhaps it has become a pop culture phase to recycle ideas and bring them back to life years after they originally became hits? Is it done as a tribute to classic stories and writers? Do emerging authors and even original screenwriters feel the competitive edge thrust upon them when coming up with original material while classics are being rehashed? I believe if the story is good, they have nothing to worry about. The bottom line is that a story that is worth being read is also worth coming to life on-screen, in my opinion. JK Rowling's Harry Potter series is the prime example of a good story deserving both print and screen attention. The other side of this is that often times, the hype that is built up around a book released as a film sometimes overshadows the actual merit of the writing. Popular films that do extremely well at the box office may not necessarily be the best written works on the shelves, but fans of the movie may flock and be blinded by the hype instead of giving an actual non-biased opinion on the book. However, the author is recognized and the readers are happy. The only downfall to this may be that the standard of good writing may go down by a few notches every time popularity overshadows actual merit.

The benefits of having a book adapted into a movie is obviously the exposure it will bring to the author. This sort of exposure is not necessarily typical to a writer. The following (fans) that a movie can bring after its release can spark an interest in reading the written work that led to the film adaptation. If this were always the case it would be a great thing. However, I believe only on rare occasions does this happen (Harry Potter, Twilight, The DaVinci Code are a few that come to mind). Most often than not the story and the writing goes so further beyond what is shown in the movie adaptation that it may even be disappointing to some avid readers who go see a movie adaptation of a good book they read. This has happened to me before and I am sure other avid readers will agree it's happened to them also.

My hope is that books will not dwindle out and become the 'cassette' or '8-Track' of the new generation. I strongly believe in sparking a child's imagination with reading and books before allowing them to become entertained and shown a story. Screenwriting is after all writing as well. If these writers had not been exposed to books and reading from a young age, one must wonder what kind of movies we would have at our disposal. The mind is powerful, and by reading and letting the mind work it's magic, imagine the scenery, the settings, picture the characters in the mind's eye, it is what builds on a child's creativity. I have nothing against movie adaptations, again, I do enjoy movies tremendously. What I do hope for though, is to see an increase in literary interests, promoting authors, storytellers, and writers of all kinds.

Let's keep the storytelling a priority and the dazzle of special effects an indulgence for our imagination.

Angella Jacob