Home Arts & Lit Adaptation Books vs. Film

Adaptation Books vs. Film


jkyfySophie Kilips muses over the different emotional effects film and books have on us…

With the recent release of Hunger Games: Catching Fire, it seems like an appropriate time to be thinking about the relationship between cinema and books. The Hunger Games trilogy is just one in a long line of book series’ and novels that have been adapted for the big screen; others include the Harry Potter series, the Lord of the Rings, Marley & Me, Pride and Prejudice and the Twilight series. Some of these adaptations have worked; they’ve paid off and made the series’ author millions, started franchises and brought new actors to centre stage – others haven’t. Most of the time, it’s up to your personal opinion as to whether the film-version of a book makes the cut, some people may even think the film adaptations that have had huge success in the box office aren’t a success at all, because they don’t follow the feeling of the original book, or stray too far from the novel’s plotline. But is this being too harsh on adaptations and what they portray.

Films and books might both be tools to entertain us, but in truth, these two tools are very different types of media. The original purpose of film and cinema was to entertain and communicate with the masses; it excites all of our senses. We see the image projected on the big screen, the explosions, tense musical score or laughter ring in our ears whilst we taste the salty tang of popcorn and feel the goose bumps rising on our arms as our body subconsciously reacts to that terribly chilling scene. It isn’t just films that make us feel these things, but books give us these emotions in a very different way; books are more subtle. We can devour a book (if it’s good); it can engross us so completely that we ignore our surroundings and their distracting smells and sounds. Hunger, thirst and tiredness can all disappear so that nothing exists except for the words on the page and our brilliant imaginations that are creating vibrant moving pictures inside our heads.

So maybe that’s the difference between books and film; the way that we view films from the outside and are carried along for the ride, whilst with books we are the creators of the images we see. This could explain why it’s not uncommon to hear that the film version of a book ‘isn’t as good’ as the book itself – or potentially we are judging the film that we see based on how the book has made us feel, when really they are two separate entities that we should view as the works of entertainment that they are. The truth is that from cinema’s earliest days the written word has been adapted for the screen and this is something that we will have to accept. So maybe the film adaptation of a book might not personally impassion us the same way as the book does, but it can still be an entertaining night out at the cinema. Except for Twilight, because that sucked as both a book and a film.

Sophie Kilips

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