How do you like your movie adaptations?

It is no secret that we Quirky Girls love to compare our books to the movies they spawn. It’s all in good fun and adds another dynamic to the regular book review. I, myself, am a big fan of watching movies that come from books and comparing the two. I usually can separate the two mediums and appreciate the changes that are made. Other times not so much.

Last week Kimberly left an interesting comment that gave me pause. She stated:

I can’t remember where I read this recently (someone who posted on Goodreads, maybe?), but someone made a comment that books and movies aren’t meant to provide the same experience. Seems obvious, I know, but I think when we compare the two mediums in terms of the same material, we expect the movie (because it often comes later) to be similar to the book. When we know that in all probability, it’s not going to be. Reading and providing everything else except for the words is entirely different than a film (especially in a theater), which by nature is a much more sensory experience. Even if the storylines, etc. remain the same, the intent is often different.

I think for the most part, we Quirky Girls as a whole are pretty good at separating the two, but it is an excellent point to keep in mind when watching movies based on books.

I, myself, sometimes prefer to watch a movie first and then read the book in order to better appreciate the movie on its own. Other times, I prefer to read the books first because I don’t want my imagination to be sullied by the movie. Case in point-I didn’t start reading Harry Potter until 2001. The first movie had just been released and I was determined to read the book before seeing the movie. I am so glad I did as I got to imagine the world and characters Rowling created and then appreciate just how exactly right the movies got it.

However, I chose to do the opposite when it came to The Time Traveler’s Wife. I watched the movie first. Honestly, I was completely underwhelmed.  I wanted to like that movie way more than I really did. But! It made me want to read the book! The same weekend I viewed the movie, I bought the book. I knew they were leaving out some really good stuff and I wanted to know exactly what that was. It ended up being one of my favorite books of the year. I thought it was so well-written. I was completely invested in the characters to the point of getting all worked up and angry at some of the characters. I really felt they were real and had to forcefully remind myself that they were not.  Without having seen the movie, I probably would still be waffling if I wanted to read the book or not.

Another example:  Many moons ago Mists of Avalon was made into a mini-series. I LOVED it. TNT re-ran it all week and I watched it a few times. And there was this one scene that kept intriguing me further. This look that Guinivere (Samantha Mathis) got in her eye. I just knew she was adding more depth to this one moment based on something in the book, perhaps that same scene. With each viewing, I looked for this moment to scrutinize further this look she had. I couldn’t stop pondering what it could possibly mean. A few days later I went out and bought the book and some of my fondest reading memories are from that week of being completely absorbed in this (literally) oversized, many-paged book.

I do appreciate when I see movies first.  Sometimes, when the acting is particularly spectacular (or the screenplay has a lot of holes), the movie will make me want to read the book to find out more.  Sometimes seeing a movie will spur me to read the book it is based on immediately (White Oleander, Soul Surfer) in order to learn more.  Other times I watch a movie because I just loved the book so much, am greedy, and want more.

I feel like as I’ve gotten older I have come to appreciate more the differences between books and movie adaptations. I am more forgiving for the necessary and sometimes not-so-necessary changes. (But I am somewhat less forgiving when it comes to tv adaptations. . . ) I still have moments when I stubbornly cling to the source material, but these instances are few and far between.  At least I like to think so. . .

How about you, dear reader? How do you like your movie adaptations? Do you want a completely faithful retelling or are you okay with some changes? Do you like to read the book first and then watch the movie or the opposite? Do you like book v movie comparisons or would you rather do without?

This entry was posted in Bookish Thoughts, Posts by Jehara. Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to How do you like your movie adaptations?

  1. Kimberly says:

    Oh, Oh!! And let’s not forget when book and movie adaptations are completely different, as in the case of My Sister’s Keeper. At first, the inclination is to be scandalized . . . but sometimes it’s better that way so that they’re seen as two separate entities as opposed to stepping on each other’s toes.

    • jehara says:

      Very true. When I saw My Sister’s Keeper I hadn’t read the book so I didn’t know the ending was different. I was actually scandalized when I read the book ending. I liked the movie ending better. The book ending made me mad. I will also admit to liking the movie ending of Scarlet Letter better too. I think most people hated that movie, but I wasn’t too fond of the book so I was glad the movie changed it.

  2. izzybella says:

    It’s really common for me to want to see a movie based on a book I read, but less common for me to want to read a book on which I movie I just saw was based. I actually saw I Am Number Four before reading the book and I wound up liking the book a lot better than the movie. What I really hate is when a movie completely distorts the book character in the interest of drama. Here’s two examples: one, in the Anne of Green Gables adaptation, Anne and Diana get into a HUGE fight. Anne fought with so many other people that it just peeved me they had her fighting with the only person she never ever fought with. Bugged. The second thing, and this ticks me off even worse, is what Peter Jackson did to the character Faramir in the LotR. Book Faramir is noble through and through and manages to resist the ring. Movie Faramir briefly succumbs. It bugged me to no end-still does when I rewatch what is otherwise a truly FANTASTIC film adaptation.

    • jehara says:

      Good point. I think that is what bothered me about the movie version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. It was very well-done, but I was really annoyed with the way Blumkvist kept pestering Lisbeth. He SO did not do that in the book. It was important that he was like that and it really confused book Lisbeth and was ultimately what gained her trust and respect.

  3. Oh, my gosh, I HATED the changed ending of The Scarlet Letter!!! But I’ve read everything by Hawthorne that I could get my hands on, and that’s probably why. It just felt gratuitous to me. Gotta give the happy ending!

    Normally, because I’m such a voracious reader, if the book existed pre-movie, I’ll have read the book first and then seen the movie. There are exceptions, of course. I watched The Help, and haven’t yet read the book, although I did buy it for my nook. I liked it quite a lot, so I’m hoping I’ll like the book as well.

    When I was in my teens, I read everything, and I do mean everything, written by L.M. Montgomery. When they came out with television adaptations, I was excited until I watched them. I do realise that you cannot have everything in the film exactly like the book. However, the changes you make need, in my opinion, to be true to the spirit of the source material. If you’re adapting Harry Potter, you can’t have Voldemort be redeemed. It’s not possible. If you’re adapting Anne of Green Gables, you can’t have her and Diana fighting and unfriendly to each other. Didn’t happen. And the adaptation of Jane of Lantern Hill bore absolutely nothing in common with the book except the names of the characters. That one actually enraged me. I had a grudge against Sarah Polley that lasted until I saw her in The Weight of Water.

    And there’s another one where I liked the movie better than the book. We read Anita Shreve’s book for our book club (remember?) and then watched the movie. The movie was masterfully done. Beautiful. Austere. I absolutely loved it.

    • izzybella says:

      I think we might have been posting at the same time with that Anne of Green Gables comment…great minds? kooky minds?

    • jehara says:

      haha!!! I do remember The Weight of Water by Anita Shreve. I enjoyed that book and the movie too.

    • jehara says:

      I am sure that is why I didn’t hate the ending as most people did. I really disliked the book. Honestly, though, I do not recall the ending of either. I just remember hating the book and not liking the movie too much until the end. I remember feeling glad they changed it. I think I do recall Demi Moore riding off in a cart with a throng of people chasing her? It’s been a long time since I watched it. . .

  4. Gwen says:

    The only movie adaptations that I have ever really been happy with are the Harry Potter ones. Having a pretty good imagination (and unlimited budget in my brain) the books are usually more, I don’t know, more compelling in my head than they can pull off in 2 hours in film.

    When it came to Harry Potter, there were some things that I just couldn’t wrap my head around, no matter how many times it was described. Quiditch (sp?) never made sense to me until I saw it on the big screen, for example.

    The other thing is that with a book,just like a movie, what seems important and pivotal to me, might not seem important or touching to you. So when the director and screenwriter do their thing, they might be missing the boat for me… or you…or that girl sitting next to you.

    • jehara says:

      I totally hear you on Quidditch, Gwen! I couldn’t not figure that one out at ALL. (Perhaps because I am not really a sports person??) So it was really nice to see it played out on the big screen in order to get a better understanding of how it is played.

  5. Trisha says:

    I try to read the books first because I hate picturing the actors instead of the characters I create in my own mind. I will say, however, that sometimes I think this really ruins the movie for me. Not very often do I watch the film version and like it. Exceptions to this rule are Lord of the Rings and pretty much any movie based on Austen/Bronte/etc. I don’t know why, but those adaptations tend to work for me.

  6. Heather says:

    Depends on the story. Usually really depressing movies based on books means I’m going to watch the movie first to see if I should read the book. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is one. I bawled for like an hour after that movie. I knew there was NOOOO way I could get through the book. So sometimes the movie version gives you the lowdown without dedicating precious reading time to the actual book!

    Though, it’s true that they both provide very different experiences. I love both the books and the movies of Harry Potter. They both provide different emotions and reactions. Like the movies play up Ron and Hermione’s eventual hooking up more than the books do, especially early on. Rowling even commented on that and liked it.

    Gone With the Wind. Love both for very different reasons. Book…you really get to know Scarlett and Rhett and the time period a lot more. But the movie condenses it enough that you still love the characters and visually see the time period.

    Both awesome in their own spheres! Great topic!

  7. stacybuckeye says:

    I like to read the book first, but there are times I know I am not going to get to the book first and so I see the movie, like The Help.
    If I read the book and then see the movie too soon after I tend to compare too much, so I try to wait awhile.

  8. Erin says:

    Great question! Actually, I don’t like to see movies based on books I’ve read or read books after I’ve seen the movie version. When a movie comes out that’s based on a book, I’m careful not to see it if I plan to read the book. If the book doesn’t interest me, I’ll go ahead and see the movie. It seems to be I like best whichever format I experience first, and I pretty much always give books priority. The few times I’ve seen movie adaptations after reading the book — some of the Harry Potters (only 1-3, the rest I skipped) and the Percy Jackson movie come to mind — I really didn’t care for the movie at all. I didn’t see The Time Traveler’s Wife, Water for Elephants, The Painted Veil, etc. and don’t plan to. I know books and movies aren’t supposed to be the same. I think it’s more that I just don’t want to experience similar stories. I also dislike spoilers, because I spend my time reading/watching trying to figure out how the story will get to where I know it’s going. I’m probably in the minority here, but that’s ok 🙂

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