Movies vs. Books – Which is better?

Ah, the age old argument of diehard bibliophiles: the book is always better than the movie… Right? I propose the argument that, no, the book is not always better than the movie.

Moriarty GaspBefore you break out the torches and pitchforks, allow me to present two movies that I felt were better than their bookish counterparts. Possible spoilers ahead.

1. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. First of all, the concept was great: I have no complaints about the plot or events. The themes that Sebold highlighted, though, weren’t the ones I would have chosen. Susie Salmon is a girl trying to reach back from the afterlife, unable to let go of her prematurely ended existence. One of her greatest worries was that she never experienced the physical things that go along with aging and maturity – the top on her list being sex. I felt like Susie’s only concern was that she had never been with her high school crush, and at the end of the book she abused her power from the afterlife to possess a friend and finally get it on with her main squeeze. Lovely, isn’t it?

In the movie, however, the focus was far more on the emotional aspect of Susie’s journey. She was more concerned with the family she had left behind, particularly her father. The message I got at the end (which never fails to make me sob uncontrollably) was to take the time to appreciate life, because we never know when it will end or where we’ll be tomorrow. It’s about letting go and moving on, and cherishing the people in your life and never taking them for granted. Even with the tough subject matter, I enjoyed the movie a lot more than the book, simply because of the emotional versus physical focus.

2. The Hunger Games by Susan Collins. Really, this one isn’t too much of a movie preference over the book. I’d say 55/45, with the movie ranking slightly higher than the book. My reasoning? I’m actually not a huge fan of Katniss’s character. She’s the best in the first book, but with each book I like her less and less. In the movie, and maybe this is because I’m a fan of Jennifer Lawrence, I felt like her better character traits were displayed: protecting Prim and defying the Capitol. I felt like Lawrence pulled out the best parts of Katniss, while still remaining true to the character of the book.

In addition, the movie was able to increase the impact of the themes and harsh realities of Panem through the big screen. Sometimes, watching a scene is better than reading it, especially the battle scenes. With the way it was filmed, with the bouncing camera and flashing lights, the movie really emphasized the confusion and disorientation of fighting. Plus, Rue’s death scene was just painful. It was well done in the book, but I didn’t cry when I read the book. The movie? Pass me the tissues.

Not all movies do their source material justice, but these are two that I felt stepped away from the norm. This is not to say that all movies are better than the books: 95% of the time I’d say the book was better. I could name several adaptations that make me cringe *cougheragoncough*. Ahem, throat tickle.

What movies do you feel are better than their books? What did you think of the Hunger Games and the Lovely Bones?

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5 thoughts on “Movies vs. Books – Which is better?

  1. Love the Sherlock gif.

    I’ve not read nor seen The Lovely Bones (although I do have a copy of the book in storage… should get around to reading that).

    WIth the Hunger Games? I preferred the book. Katniss does get on my nerves but I thought the book gave a fuller picture to just what was going on in the Arena and surrounding events for the tributes.But it’s a difficult one – I think that the movie assumed you’d read the book. My sister in law (who I watched the film with) hadn’t read the book and didn’t quite understand why they were doing some of the stuff tehy were doing.

    Generally I prefer the books to the movies. I only have a few exceptions – the Notebook by Nicholas Sparks, Fight Club and … I know I have a third one but I just can’t seem to remember it right now.

    What are you thoughts on movie adaptation that change the ending of the books – like Avalon High or My Sister’s Keeper? Because I’m caught in between liking the extra layer it brings to the story and being frustrated that they dare change the ending!

    Sorry for such a long comment.

  2. No worries! I love long comments 🙂

    I hadn’t thought about that with the Hunger Games; now that I think about it I guess there are some parts that make sense because I’ve already filled it in with info from the books!

    I haven’t read The Notebook, but loved the movie. As for My Sister’s Keeper, the book is one of my favorites, but I still haven’t seen the movie! I’ve heard that it wasn’t as spectacular as the book though, so I’ve kind of shied away from it.

    Anyway, for movies that changed the ending, one that immediately comes to mind for me is Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, part II. Part II is one of my all time favorites, and I thought they were pretty faithful to the plot and events… until the scene right after the battle with the Elder Wand. In the long run, I guess it isn’t a huge deal, but it kind of pissed me off in the theatre. Of course, everyone I was with told me to calm down, but how hard would it have been to follow that tiny little plot point??? Ugh, it still irks me. I think I need to go read the book again to calm myself down 😉

  3. I agree with you, 95% of of the time books are better than their movie adaptations. As for your opinion with Lovely Bones, I’d agree with you. The movie was a much more emotional experience. With Hunger Games, I was surprised at how well the film represented the book. I’m a huge fan of both versions, but I still prefer the book.

    Probably the only case where I can say I favored the movie over the book is Bridget Jones’s Diary. Loved the movie, but I thought the book was a rambling, bloated mess. I couldn’t even finish it. I’ve never been a fan of the “chick lit” genre (and it seems to have plummeted in popularity), but the movie was lots of fun — probably because it deviated so much from the novel!

  4. I agree that there are certain circumstances where the movie is better than the book. I don’t remember some examples right now,but I know there are a few. Yup, a few, cause in the majority of the cases the books is always better than the movie.
    Sure,it’s pleasant to see your favourite character moving and doing the things you’ve only imagines in your head. But it’s hard to satisfy the expectations of the reader (and the reader usually has HIGH expectations, haha!)

    I planned to read The Hunger Games,I’ll let you know my opinion 😉

  5. Pingback: Top Ten Tuesday – Movie Adaptations | The Thousand Lives

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