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theartfuldodger's avatar

Are you a book snob who hates movies-from-books, or are you the reverse?

Asked by theartfuldodger (323points) May 1st, 2009

I personally hate movies-from-books, because:

- the characters never look like what I envisioned;
– the movie can’t possibly be as deep as the book;
– they omit parts of the book;
– they have a field day with the original timeline of the book…

…and many other things. Where do you stand?

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21 Answers

El_Cadejo's avatar

The only two movies from books i liked were fight club and choke (though i thought they could have done a bit more with it) . I thought the rest are pretty crappy for the reasons you stated. Now if i saw the movie first prior to reading the book, i may enjoy the movie, but then still enjoy the book later when i read it.

jbfletcherfan's avatar

If I read a book, I’m not going to watch the movie, & vice-versa. The Shining taught me that. I do either one or the other.

Rsam's avatar

i hate these snobs. Of course the book is “deeper” and timelines have to be cut. THIS IS A MOVIE NOT A BOOK. They are two fundamentally different forms of art and to judge one by the other’s criteria is not only unfair, its unfounded.

You have to judge the movie for and of itself. once you do this, you’ll find its alot easier to appreciate both, without reserving all critical comment.

Prime Example: Cormac McCarthy’s No Country For Old Men. The movie had to shift the novel’s focus from the Tommy Lee Jones sheriff character to Chigurh’s chase of Lleweyln; however, the overall theme of the book still manages to eek through in both formats.

zephyr826's avatar

At least with movies made from books, you know the plot is solid (usually). If you’ve heard good things about the book, sometimes that can act as a recommendation for the movie.
Personally, I’m vaguely a book snob. If there’s a movie based on a book, I make a point to read the book first. Sometimes I end up disappointed, but at least I know the whole story.

noelasun's avatar

I agree with @Rsam, though it is really challenging for me to do so. What I’ve taught myself to do is never ever re-read a book that’s coming out as a movie until after I’ve watched the movie. It gets painful when your favorite lines from a book is cut or changed in the movie.

skfinkel's avatar

I am totally a book snob. Good example was the English Patient—such a phenomenal book, and even though the movie wasn’t horrible, it couldn’t touch the complexity and richness of the book. It took one small strand of the thick weave of the book. However, I do enjoy seeing the BBC productions of Dickens, yet even there, it doesn’t touch the humor and fun of Dickens.

As I write this, I realize my book snobbery is even worse than I thought.

hug_of_war's avatar

I can enjoy both without comparing them. Books and movies are different mediums, and I respect them as such. Movies based on books are not just “visual books” – film follows certain rules that don’t apply to books and vice versa.

aprilsimnel's avatar

I see them as different beasts. If I didn’t, I would be sorely disappointed by every book-based film every time. Though Lord Of The Rings was great given what it had to leave out.

dynamicduo's avatar

I don’t hate nor love book to movie translations (and vice versa). More often than not I don’t enjoy them, but there are enough instances where something so unique is created that the translation is warranted. A wonderful illustration is The Shawshank Redemption, where I felt the movie was better suited to conducting the story than the book was. Another one I enjoyed was The Watchmen.

kate1746's avatar

If a book is good, why not make it into a good movie? If I’ve already seen the movie, there’s a slim chance i will then read the book… The last book i tried that with was Fear and Loathing Las Vegas. I found the book terribly boring after watching the movie- couldn’t finish it.

bea2345's avatar

Movies and books are different entirely. Sometimes a film will explain a book – like The Innocents(1961), a film adaptation of Henry James’ novella, The turn of the screw. The film had its own kind of excellence, the book another. I read the book for the first time when I was an undergraduate in Jamaica. I recall it was in Lecture Theatre I, a room big enough for 300 students, and although it was high noon outside, I don’t mind saying, I was glad that the door was wide open. That is a ghost story to cap all. The film did help me to understand James better. One of the screenwriters, BTW, was Truman Capote. Deborah Kerr had the leading role.

Occasionally the film is an improvement. I always thought that Thackeray, knowing his readers, gave Vanity Fair that unsatisfactory ending in order to please them. The version I saw starred Reese Witherspoon, and was altogether a very happy romance, rather like Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton in The Taming of the Shrew.

Jack79's avatar

Neither. I keep an open mind and try to be lineant, knowing how hard it can be to turn someone’s limitless imagination into a tangible and also financially viable product. I do have some standards though.

- the characters never look like what I envisioned; true, and it’s what I often regret about movies. Though some come pretty close (eg in Harry Potter, the house elf is nothing like what I imagined, but Harry himself is pretty close – in LotR, Gandalf is great, but Legolas is far from what I thought and the dwarves are all much bigger than I expected).

– the movie can’t possibly be as deep as the book; not always true, depends on the book. And I’m not sure I always want it to be deep. Some books are meant to be deep, but others (thinking of LotR again) are just descriptive, so showing the story rather than telling it can work fine.

– they omit parts of the book; true, but they can add others. And hopefully they’ll keep the overall feel in balance. Besides, you can always read the book after the movie and discover all the omitted details for yourself. Which is twice as much fun :)

– they have a field day with the original timeline of the book… do you mean flashbacks and so on? Can be, but since a movie only takes about 2 hours to watch (and a book anywhere from 2 days to 2 months), that is not really a problem. It’s actually a great thing that the narrative experience is squeezed into 2 hours, so that you can hear the whole story in one go and follow the central idea through without getting stuck on details.

Overall, I know it seems I’m just defending movies, but that’s not it at all. I’m just not anti-movie. If done well, a movie can often add to the book, or in extreme cases even replace it. It depends on the original story as much as the quality of the movie. But in many cases films are just not good enough, and all they provide is at best a distorted version of the book, and at worse a rushed and badly made summary. But I still keep an open mind.

toomuchcoffee911's avatar

The books are always better.

Not that I ever see the movie, though…

YARNLADY's avatar

I like them equally. Where I have a problem is between the movie and the play. You can do so much more with a movie, I hardly ever go to see the play.

MissAusten's avatar

I’m torn on this one. Usually, I can separate the two, knowing not to expect a movie to be everything a book can be. I read a lot, and prefer books to movies in general. If the movie is pretty true to the book, I can usually still manage to enjoy it. I guess it’s a case by case thing for me.

Sometimes though, a movie just strays too far to even have the same title as the book. One of my favorite books is The Education of Little Tree by Forrest Carter. I was so excited to see that a movie had been made, and couldn’t wait to watch it. It was horrible. Left out the best parts of the book, changed the ending, and just killed the whole thing.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

I generally hate movies based on books. There have only been about two that I actually liked.

bright_eyes00's avatar

I generally like to see how the book is portrayed and sometimes I’m pleased with the result. A lot of the time i have to separate myself from the novel or book just so i dont tear apart either. For example, i read Blood and Chocolate in high school. It was a favorite book of mine. When the movie was coming out i was excited then i saw it and was pissed through teh whole thing. i was genuinely upset that they mucked up the plot as much as they did. just recently i downloaded the movie to watch it again on a whim. i found that the movie really wasnt that bad if you didnt compare every detail to the book. so now i like both but i wish they would do a movie with the actual plot from the book since that plot is not one you normally see in films.

HOWEVER on the flip of that, read Twilight. hated the book. Find that the author isnt that good. the plot had holes. the characters were too one dimensional. the story was flawed. Saw the movie hoping it would prove me wrong. Movie was terrible. bad acting and even worse portrayal of relationships. a lot of people argue with me on this but i am VERY picky about the things i read.

bright_eyes00's avatar

one thing that most people mention when discussing book-to-movies is Interview with a Vampire. I loved the book. Loved the movie. Yeah there is a lot missing from the movie that was in the book and small things were changed and the characters may not have fit quite like people who read the book would expect but to be honest i love both. I didnt really have that moment of “WTF this is nothing like the book!” like i did with Blood and Chocolate. But thats just me

filmfann's avatar

I thought the first two Harry Potter movies did the books justice. No luck since then, though.
Sometimes the movie is better (The Natural, Contact), sometimes the book cannot be equaled. What bothers me is when the take a great book, that can be easily put to film, and they make it a vehicle for a star (hello, Chevy Chase).

shrubbery's avatar

I am a book snob. Though I’ve learned to treat the book and the movie as separate things. But it still has to be a good movie in itself, of course, it’s not just automatically a good movie because the book was good, or vice versa. They are different. Now I can appreciate the third Harry Potter movie if I don’t compare it to the book (my favourite of the series).

drdoombot's avatar

I think the people who say that they hate movies-from-books are silly; more than 60% of movies are derived from previously published works (I took a class that compared stories and their film counterparts and the professor gave us that statistic).

This is a tough issue. I used to love adaptations (where I was aware of the book before the movie) but as time went on, I found myself getting more and more disappointed by the results. LOTR, Fight Club, A Clockwork Orange, to name a few, were excellent. I found the first Harry Potter movie so similar to the book that it bored me. Interview With the Vampire managed to be similar and not bore me.

I think the key is adaptation versus translation. Translations from book to movie are boring because they are different fields of art. Doing a book in movie form just doesn’t work. Adapting, however, requires skill and finesse: taking what’s important thematically from the book and using the strengths of the film medium to convey them in a different way from the book.

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