Cinematic Musing: Why The Movie Was Better Than The Book.

The Hunger Games series was not, as a whole, was not very good. Suzanne Collins repeated the words “Tracker Jacker” and “Mockingjay” way too much, and as I’ve said before the premise is absurd. But this post isn’t about that series, it’s about books in general that have been adapted into movies. Every time a book gets made into movie it’s as if that movie is competing with the source material. This is a really bizarre way to look at it. Even if it’s based on the best book ever written you can’t assume the movie should live up to the original. Judge them separately, it’s not fair other wise. Just because the Game of Thrones doesn’t recreate every detail of those huge fucking books, doesn’t mean it’s not good. Recreation isn’t the same as quality. Look at Stanley Kubrik’s The Shining, that shit is about Native Americans and is awesome just like the book. They have virtually no plot points in common, but both are great. Books can be good, and movies can be good and some times books are worse than their filmed counterparts.

It seems like every time a new adapted movie I hear people from all over the place saying that “the book was better because…” or “the movie wasn’t as good because…” I’m hear to tell you why those people being wrong is so annoying .

5.) Movies Have Fewer Details

“Brevity is the soul of wit.” said some hotshot writer a long time ago, and he was right. Don’t bore people with all your blabber, and just get to the point. Say in five words what you could have said in ten. This is the philosophy of all writing, books and movies alike. However, in practice movies outdo books in this field every time. A movie has to be minimalistic, and books do not. The reason movies aren’t as long is because we as humans are programmed to have short attention spans, books don’t cater to this in the way movies do. This is why important details are so often missed by tired or inattentive readers, and why that almost never happens when watching a movie.

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Wait, he’s the FATHER!?

Since they’re concise, it makes it easier for the themes and ideas to develop in a way that is easy for us to spot. When a book gets too bogged down with heavy handed philosophy it becomes boring. It’s the same with movies, but it’s easier to spot a ham-fisted preacher of a director because the story is only unfolding in about two hours, rather than over the course of hundreds of pages. You kick the ass hole off of his soap box before his incoherent stammering hits a screen. The clunky unwieldly size of the average novel makes it difficult to fix basic problems. Basically every book would be better if it was whittled down to about ten pages.

4.) Books Don’t Have Enough Collaboration

This may come as a surprise but books are written by single people. Aside from a few editors books are the results of individual creative forces. This hurts the method as much as it helps. A good author can handle the responsibility of telling a good story on their own. But, sometimes they cannot. The independence is the reason many authors cite as their rationale for pursuing writing as a career. It’s sort of freeing to be able to create something from scratch and have it stand on its own as yours. Sometimes however, a bad book has a few minor errors that could actually change the crap to something exciting, or at least readable. An arrogant, or uncollaborative author can ruin their own books through their closed-door process. This is where movies benefit, and are often rescued. Yes, bad movies still get made, but they are more often than not saved through team work.

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Sometimes teamwork goes very wrong

Filmmaking gives the creators opportunities to see what works and what doesn’t with the audience of the other creative people working with them. Directors, producers, actors, writers, and designers are all creative people who contribute to the process. And many failed, or bad movies are often be blamed on a single person with in the process not communicating enough. Collaboration is a benefit that film has, which literature can’t match.

3.) Crappy Books Get Adapted, Too

I understand that it’s not exactly high art, but I really like the show True Blood. It’s funny, and violent, and sexy, and often surprising. When I started watching the show I was thoroughly entertained and I wanted to read the Southern Vampire series that the show is based on. In a fit of over zealous consumerism I bought a box set of 8 of the books. One chapter into the first one and I knew it was crap. Poorly written and whiney. I later found out that (book spoilers) the author killed off the best most interesting character after the end of the first installment. I don’t know who saw any potential in those terrible books, but I’m very grateful they did.

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Very grateful

50 Shades Of Grey is another example of inhumanely terrible writing that is being brought to screen. I don’t have high hopes for those films being any good, and those books were a lot more popular than the Sookie Stackhouse ones. I understand why those movies are being made, and the filmmakers really have no where to go but up in terms of quality.

Then there’s the Chronicles of Narnia books, and I apologize to your childhood for this but they were pretty lack luster. They are somewhere between Lord of The Rings and Harry Potter but they live up to neither, and neither of those series were adapted nearly as much as Chronicles. There are dozens‘ of books and book series that are terrible but get adapted anyway. Like, The Hunger Games these movies are bound to be better than their unsatisfying counterparts. Just because it’s printed on a page doesn’t mean it’s any good at all.

2.) Movies Are More Popular

There seems to be this popular idea that because books have been around longer they are inherently better than movies. This is nothing more than racism. People’s prejudice is limiting to the medium of film. Ignorance drives this wicked restraint of cinema’s full potential. Even with this dismissal from the academic community at large, movies have over come their stigma. I mean, when was the last time a book grossed $307 million world-wide over a weekend? Never, that’s when. Suck it written word.

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Smug Bastard

“But being popular doesn’t make them better, things that suck get popular all the time,” you say as if I haven’t thought of this already. While this is true, the popularity of film is nothing to sneer at. And don’t give me that “movies are for dumb people, and books are for smart people.” Because being able to read doesn’t prove your smart. There are books written for dumb people all the time. At the same times there are movies made for smart people. So if movies can be for smart people, and books for dumb people, then the whole thing is a wash. And what’s left is the fact that people in general like movies better. We realize that movies are immersive fun and easy  to finish quickly. Books can be grueling in a way movies aren’t able to be; they can take months. Movies also provide a more visually immersive experience than does literature, and this makes it easer for the average person to swallow. Books often fall short on the fun factor because they can’t deliver on the promises of entertainment they way a good action, comedy or romantic movie can.

1.) Movies Can Take Liberties

A film adapted from a novel has a source material to work from, obviously. However, that does not mean it must stay true to its source material. This gives the screen version of a story the upper hand. Sure, the original can be as creative as it would like to be but the movie has an opportunity to correct mistakes and clear up ambiguous plot points or themes. Not only do movies benefit from this, but so do books. Any lack of clarity in a book can be fixed in its movie, adding depth to the original piece. If a movie is based on a book they can both be great and the one can make the other better. With that being said, I want to mention that there are bad movies based on books that rely too heavily on things only mentioned in the source. These movies are not the one’s I’m talking about. If a person says “you have to read the book to get that,” then the movie sucks. A movie is a movie and it needs to be a good standalone piece. The best ones have no required reading, and the best books have no required viewing.

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This is the person who knows if you’ve read enough.

Movies almost always have the upper-hand in this relationship because they are working off of an already existing entity. No matter how good a book is, it will not be perfect. Look at it this way, Edison had that light bulb and it was fine or whatever. But, those curlicue lightbulbs are cheaper, and more environmentally sound. If the incandescent light had never been stolen by people smarter than Edison, then we wouldn’t have better inventions today. Movies are the curlicue hippy lightbulbs of artistic expression. Sure books are cool or whatever, but film is the future. And the future is bright.

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