The Eternal Debate

How do you feel when you find out your favourite book is being turned into a movie or TV show? Excited that you get to see your favourite characters and scenes come to life? Or a sense of dread - although you will be amongst the first to see it you will be bitterly disappointed. Whole important scenes cut out, characters changed, things not explained properly. It’s just not paying respect to a great piece of writing.


It’s a common complaint amongst bookworms, myself included. But thinking rationally, it would be impossible to fit everything into one film, boring too, and they have to cater to people that haven’t seen the book as well as the hardcore fans if they want to make money (haha, if).

However, very rarely, it sometimes happens the other way round. The movie or TV version is occasionally better than the book. I know it sounds sacrilege to say that on a book blog but this has been the case three different times for me that I can remember.

Children of Men Film - A fabulous film, excellently filmed and directed. An intriguing concept portrayed in a perfect, haunting way. Book - A good piece of writing, but slower than the film. I think the changes they made in the film fit way better than the book.

Orange is the New Black TV show - Funny, poignant, with great well-rounded characters. I can’t wait to binge watch the new series coming out soon! Book - A self-obsessed entitled woman goes to jail and has a blast. It’s just like camp! Ironically, although this is a memoir and supposedly real life, the characters are less believable…

The Talented Mr Ripley Film - Elegant, perfectly cast and (excuse the cliché) kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time! Loved it Book - Almost as good as the book, but it doesn’t quite cut it. Again, the changes they made in the movie are absolutely perfect, (especially the ending), but as they involve the main character being involved in a homosexual relationship, it never would have been written that way in the original 1950s era book!

I have a theory about why I preferred the adaptations to the books in these cases: I read the book after seeing the movie or show. I suppose a book is more personal than just watching something, and you get more involved in it emotionally. So reading the book first will nearly always lead to disappointment. However if you watch the film first you can appreciate it for what it is, before discovering all the richness the book has to offer.

I may however keep reading the book before seeing the adaptation, despite my theory. Let’s face it - we all like to appear superior by preferring the book! But let’s keep that between us!

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