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Author Topic: "The book was better..."  (Read 199 times)
the way of the cute
n'awlins local


Posts: 624

Brb, video games

"The book was better..."
« on: November 29, 2007, 11:08:14 PM »

This line irritates me, I hear it every time I come out of a movie theatre where I just watched a movie based on a book. After calming down I started pondering on WHY. Why do these people always say that stupid line!?

I came up with many reasons. Maybe they truly felt the changes to the movie was poor. Maybe acting superior because they actually read the book. But what I came across was...

They feel the book was greater because in their minds it's perfect.

The charecters are perfected in their minds. That hot girl with a perfect body, actually HAS a perfect body, in your mind. And  on that, every single mind, had a different perspective on "The perfect body" so that charecter will always look different in everyones vision of the story, from the book. That charming guy is always hitting the right buttons. None of the charecters are flawed at all. Because they are perfected in your mind.

In front of your face, on the screen, the movie tries to take those perfected charecters from your mind and give them physical  existance, inside of an actor.

So, you are comparing your perfected version of the charecter, to this simple actor.

Sure, the actor may be charming, or has a good figure, but it's not able to compare to your perfected version inside of your mind. And because of that, it turns into sub-anger and, in turn, it turned into ignorance. Dissapointed that the actors cannot best, your perfected vision of the story, setting,  and the charecters, you then complain about it by stating this awful line... with no exact reason to why you feel that way, besides,"The acting sucked."

bourbon st drunk


Posts: 466

wide-eyed mystified

Re: "The book was better..."
« Reply #1 on: November 30, 2007, 12:08:55 AM »

In a few rare cases, the movie is better than the book.  However, I am more of a book person than a movie person, so I haven't encountered many of those cases.  Typically, the better one is the first one, so if it's a book based on a movie, the movie will be thought superior.  If the movie is based on the book, the book is probably better.  If the book is crappy, it probably won't get made into a movie in the first place (there are exceptions of course).

Most movies cannot measure up to good books because books typically have more stuff happening (movies tend to "cut" things because they can't fit it all into a two-hour show), and books can also accomplish effects that no movie ever can.  Even with the magic of CG and etc., some things are just better in the imagination.

Also, movies tend to be more simplistic than books.  In books, the reader is prepared for some narration and a lot of exposition, and they are expected to sort through info provided in order to keep up with what might be a fairly complex plot.  In a movie, the story is delivered only through show and spoken lines (voice-overs have to be done sparingly if at all), so you can't impart nearly as much plot information to the audience.  Imagine triyng to write a book with nothing but action and dialogue ... it'd be a fast-paced book, but possibly a bit confusing for the reader, huh?  It's harder to get to know the characters when you can't hear what's going on inside their heads.  Talented actors are good at conveying this without words, but only the best actors can express the character as clearly as a book does.

You also have a point: nothing on the screen is ever quite the way we imagined it.  The most recent movie I saw based on a book was "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix."  I enjoyed the movie largely because it did a good job of sticking close to the book, with a few innovations that I found were even better than my imagination ... but it inevitably fell short in a few places, which was a bit disappointing.  But not surprising.

Pancake Ninja
*Candidate for GNTP President*
Love cake
scd cult


Posts: 1662

Keeper of Sacred Words' little brother: w00t

Re: "The book was better..."
« Reply #2 on: November 30, 2007, 07:36:03 AM »

I don't think the line is really that stupid. It's an obvious over-generalization to say that in every book/movie-adaptation the book is better, but... let's face it... it's very often the truth.

Like Silverain said, books can do something that is nearly impossible for a movie. The exposition, the inner life of a character, they are very difficult to convey through merely visual and auditory means.

Let me show you a few examples. IT. Stephen King creates an atmosphere so thick, I'm not sure you could even cut it with a machete. He brings an entire city and its inhabitants to life, in a psychologically credible way. He does so with lots of exposition, and yet, the book never gets boring (in my opinion). He dives deep into the psyche of the seven kids. He imagines a creature from the macroverse, a plain so different from our own that seeing it, will make crazy nearly anyone. In the same vein IT is a creature fuelled by a thought process that humans hardly can understand.

How can a movie - even 2 movies (they split it up in 2 parts) - convey all that? It can't. It'd be tedious. It'd be impossible. So they've turned it into just another horror movie with a generic monster which is killed in a generic (silver bullet) way. Dun dun dun.

I see it like this: Both books and movies take you on a journey. However, books take you on an extended safari, whereas movies take you on a weekend trip to [insert generic big attractive tourist city]

That said, here's another interesting aspect of this discussion: Why is it, that we still want these movie adaptations? Let's face it, those of you who read Harry Potter were glad that they made the movies, no?

I was glad that they made the LoR trilogy even though I consider it inferior (in some points, not in others) to the books. Even though I sorely miss Tom Bombadil.

So we seem to be masochistic creatures, always wanting movie adaptations even though we often decry them as inferior to the books who spawned them.

I have been assured that a young healthy child well nursed is at a year old a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled; and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricassee or a ragout.
Jonathan Swift, A Modest Proposal
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Posts: 1354

too evil for you ^o^

Re: "The book was better..."
« Reply #3 on: December 03, 2007, 04:41:25 PM »

i think this is because the book was better XD no out ofthe joke i think that when you read the book the writer was the author of the story andthat means that he/she gets a more intimate realtion with everything that surronds his/her work and many time that could make better the book that the movie, also when you read it you can give avery personal touch to the character or enviroment of the book makin several times morepersonal that a movie (example im great fan of james bond and when i read a novel i imagine my own personal james bond that is really different of i don't now pierce brosnan, and he looks like more at daniel craig in my mind when i read a novel of james bond) all that and much more i think that makes better a book that a movie

but other time the movie got other thinks that you never imagine like fresh view of the novel view that sometimes gives more live at the movie that the life that could get the novel it depends ofany single person that looks the movie and reads the book

Tortilla cheesemelt emperor
cajun mafia


Posts: 847

Nice smile, right?

Re: "The book was better..."
« Reply #4 on: December 03, 2007, 06:24:13 PM »

the line is a bit irritating to hear but only because it's obvious it is true. books and movies are two very different mediums.

one uses the written word to pull you into a different world and experience a life or an event. one uses moving images to create a piece of art (regardless of our opinions of hollywood, movies can be considered art) that does something words can't. it shows you a thousand different feelings at a time just using images. we've seen directors create masterpieces like Casablanca or really moving movies like Life is Beautiful that you know you can't just read about.

so as long as we're going to the theaters to watch a movie, not sit down and watch the silver screen project someone flipping all 200 hundred pages of the book, i think we should be fine.

Only when you are able to win a staring contest with someone's picture will you receive my respect.
The Destroyer
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scd cult


Posts: 1736

Re: "The book was better..."
« Reply #5 on: December 04, 2007, 12:56:06 AM »

My only real complaint over it is that of all the hundreds of people who say that about a movie, few of them actually agree what should have been kept in.

Like the Tom Bombadil scene.  It didn't contribute a whole lot to the Two Towers, it was a neat scene and all, but no big deal.  Or the scene where Merry and Pippin meet the young Ent and Merry(I think) gets taller from drinking the Ent-water.  Wow, neat scene, shows the younger tree understands how Merry feels about the war, but beyond that, not much.

Not to mention the sheer time, the extended LOTR movies range from an extra half our for the first movie to an extra hour on the last movie.  That was tough to sit through. 

Personally, I think some comparason to the book should be made, and yes, judgement on if the book was better or the movie was better should be made.  But I think much of it is being made incorrectly.  The judgement is often a comparason between the two, which as Sleeper and others point out, isn't possible.  It should be on which is a better telling of the story.

I love how a movie can expound upon a little fact when it's visual.  I love how a book can draw something else out.  The movie excelled here while the book did better here.  And it's nice to see movies take artistic liscence with some things and do stuff differently.

I'm just tired of hearing the complaints because, well they're annoying.

Like a bad case of Norwegian Wood.
"Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, "WOW! What a ride!""
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