Books and films. Films and books. Adaptations, scripts, themes and visuals. When it comes to losing ourselves in other worlds, these are two of the main ways to go about it.
But which do you prefer?
As an ex-film-and-writing student, it is fair to say I am open-minded when it comes to the two. I have realised over the last year, I like waaaaaay more genres than I adamantly clung to before and that I am, in all honesty, prepared to give anything ago. Nothing gives me a greater thrill than curling up with a good book yet I also thoroughly enjoy chilling out and watching a film. I guess I like them both equally!
One thing that has always frustrated me, though, is adaptations. When you have a best-seller – a fantastic book that sweeps a reader off their feet – how can the plot/characterisation/general story arc be lost so spectacularly in a film? The script is already written and the scenery often described in a vivid enough way to fuel the artists’ minds (someone must have liked the book to want to make it into a film).
In my final year at university, I did an adaptation module. Adaptations are more involved than I first believed, for the theme of the piece you are playing with is crucial. It doesn’t matter if you change everything about the plot, characters or even general story arc as long as the same theme can be identified in both. It made my mind spin, that’s for sure.
Even with that knowledge, it hasn’t changed my opinion on a badly-adapted film, especially when the book means a lot to me. Anyone reading this blog, for instance, must have picked up by now Eragon by Christopher Paolini is my favourite book. Never, under any circumstances, get me started on the film, for I will rant until kingdom come and beyond about how much it irritates me.
Recently, I realised I prefer to see the film first (if I’m coming at something with a blank slate, that is). The chances are, I’m going to prefer the book. But if I have already seen the film, there might be parts of it that I enjoy, things I like without prior knowledge to compare it to. The book will still sweep me off my feet. If I like the book first, the film often only disappoints me.
Which do you prefer? Any reasons for this? As a writer myself, I believe in the power of words. Since being a young child, I’ve been swept away by a written story. There is no denying the strength of films though, and the emotional impact they too can have. I wouldn’t say one medium is stronger than the other, each should be judged as an individual case. So saying, I am prone to judging an adaptation harshly if I have already fallen in love with the book.
The only thing that counts is that we enjoy whatever we see/read, right?