Books vs. Movies

Books vs. Movies

It’s a fraught subject, I know. I can’t believe I’m even bringing up as it might be as divisive as politics these days… I’m kidding — Nothing is as contentious as books vs. movies. 😉

But it’s relevant to me right now, as I’m straddling between the two. Presently I’m beginning a deep dive into Dickens for my next novel. And one can’t “deep dive” Dickens and expect to come up for air within weeks, or even months – and certainly not by the manuscript’s due date. I need help. So I’m turning to the movies as well. I’m fully aware they can’t give me Dickens in his full authenticity, they can give me a taste of his world – and for selected works, that’s just what I need.

On the whole, I tend to like the books better – perhaps because the book is the author’s original vision and not a translation; perhaps it is because a much fuller story can be found in three hundred pages verses ninety minutes; perhaps it’s simply an erudite answer that makes me feel smart.

Because I must confess – some of the movies are fantastic and often just as wonderful as the book. And I have found that I don’t mind if the movie doesn’t follow the book exactly. Take The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, for example… It released on Netflix last month and I watched it that first evening – as the book is an all-time favorite of mine. I was so ready for all the characters, the Oscar Wilde letters, the drama and the sense of post WWII Guernsey.

And that’s what I got – without Oscar Wilde. Without spoiling the book or the movie for anyone, I can safely report that the movie took a few twists not imagined in the book and left out some other aspects that gave the book all full sensorial experience. life. But, it included new additions that provided that experience, just in different ways. I loved the book. I loved the movie. I appreciated the movie’s very focused lens on the heroine. It stayed true to the life of the novel if not its specific plot points. The movie translation suited the story and it suited the format.

I find that I often have to let go of my expectations that a movie can do what a book does – it cannot. But once I do that, I often find the movies as enjoyable –or on another level – even more enjoyable than the book.

After all, Pride & Prejudice & Zombies was an okay book – but a fantastic movie!  … Now I’m going to really get in trouble, aren’t I? 😉

What are your thoughts?




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September 18, 2018 7:19 AM

I can’t think of any instances where I thought a movie was better than a book but I have liked movies on their own merit as long as I think of it as a different entity. If I think about all the differences between the two and how my favorite parts were left off then I can end up disappointed.

Michelle H
Michelle H
September 11, 2018 11:16 PM

I couldn’t possibly take you to task for watching some Dickens movies in lieu of reading all the books you wanted in order to move ahead with your own project. Hmmmm….THAT sounds intriguing. I’ve seen promo for The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and it’s been highly recommend to me. I intend to watch it sometime soon, but your brief info about the book makes me interested in reading the book even more.

I was frankly disgusted when the whole Pride and Prejudice and Zombies thing came out. I just felt the author was combining two genres that were at their height of popularity at the time and cashing in on, and taking a potshot at the ridiculousness of it all. From the sublime to the ridiculous. But when the movie hit a pay TV channel that we subscribed to at the time, I decided to watch a little and give it a chance, expecting to have my eyeballs permanently attached to the upside under my eyelids near my forehead. But, I can honestly say it was entertaining, well done and I actually really liked it. Go figure.

Good luck with your project Katherine. I’ll be looking for that in the future.

Danielle C
September 8, 2018 11:03 PM

I do prefer the books but if I want to watch a movie I go in the mindset that it will be very different and just a new way seeing the story. But some movies really really do get waaaayyyy to far off course. 🙂

September 6, 2018 4:40 PM

Claudine and I sat in movie theatres in separate states during the first showing of P&P and Zombies. We texted each other about our experience. I have found that I didn’t like it at first but liked it better by the third time I watched it. (Yes, I bought the DVD.) I read all three books and think that the third book is the best of the series. There were two different authors and the one from whose novel the movie was written used mostly JA’s words with a few lines and paragraphs thrown in. I have not read nor seen The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society but have seen ads for it on Netflix. Maybe I’ll watch it one of these days. I like to see movies but will admit that most times the book is always better. LOVE Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit series – read the books just after graduating college. My oldest who is a big reader hated that whole series although she likes the movies. She didn’t like all the introspection or some such. I discovered P&P after watching the 1995 movie and that is always a good movie for me to watch…with 5 hours to spare. I agree with Jeanne that you can find some JAFF which are obviously based on movies. Haunting Mr. Darcy is one of those IMO. Watch Just Like Heaven and tell me if you don’t agree.

Michelle H
Michelle H
September 11, 2018 11:02 PM
Reply to  sheilalmajczan

Ahhh, Sheila, I feel kind of like a dope now. I never made the connection to the movie Just Like Heaven when reading Haunting Mr. Darcy, one of my favorite rereads! (It’s a yearly tradition.) I loved that movie, but I’m not sure even now I’ll think of that when I reread HMD.

J. W. Garrett
J. W. Garrett
September 5, 2018 11:44 PM

I have not read P&P&Z or watched the movie… nor do I intend to. I have seen all the ‘other’ movie versions of P&P and all are different in some way. Most of the time the screenwriters write what they want to or what they thing the audience wants… sometimes taking license with Austen’s work. I’ve read several JAFF stories where I could tell it was based on a particular movie and not the book. Yeah… that stands out like a sore thumb. In the end… you can only do what you can and hope for the best. Trust your gut and write what your heart tells you. Blessing on your work.

cindie snyder
cindie snyder
September 5, 2018 12:40 PM

I’ve read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and it’s not bad. I’ve never read the Guernsey Potato Peel Pie Society but it sound s kind of like a good read! I may pick up a copy!

September 5, 2018 9:09 AM

I agree that both formats can be different and appreciated. Take Lord of the Rings. I love that story. I’ve read the books. I had them read to me at a young age. I adore those movies. They did such an amazing job. Plus, quite frankly, Tolkien is not the easiest read. He’s not reader friendly by today’s standards. The movies give so many more people the chance to appreciate what he created.

So, I’d say, so long as they do an amazing job with the movie, I like both. Like you, I also don’t mind if the movie isn’t line by line like the book. For people who do mind that, likely few movies (maybe some Shakespeare?) will ever measure up. (Of course, Shakespeare is almost cheating, as that was written to be performed.)

September 5, 2018 12:30 AM

I really loved P & P & Zombies. This movie is what hooked me with P & P. After watching this movie, I borrowed the original P & P book, then watched the movie again multiple times . Reading the book, helped me understand what was happening in the film. Then i watched the older P & p movies/series and it didn’t have the same effect. So in this, I guess it depends on the movie/actors/actresses and how the movie was made. Coz an equally enticing story can beat (for me the older version of the P & P series) .

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