From Novel to Film

This blog post will explore the reasons why I disagree with the idea that ‘the book version is always better than the film’. Although (for me) I believe there is some truth in the above statement, I also think that the film version is unfairly stereotyped to be worse than the novel. This is particularly infuriating when the person saying this has never even seen the adaptation onto screen. How will you learn how it translates if you’re refusing to give it a chance?

The adaptation transforms the lives of the characters you have read about so that it can visually communicate with the audience. This gives the reader, whether they’re reading it for the first time or re-reading it, a specific and solid image to fall back on if their own imagination fails to understand the words they’re reading. It may start to make more sense. Understandably, as I have also fallen victim to this, the direction that the producers and director decide to take the film version may not match with your own interpretation. This can, when watching it, cloud over your own envision, and therefore worsen your opinion of the book if you dislike the way it translates. However, it must not be forgotten that you as the reader/spectator have every right to control your own imagination and create your own interpretation with what you are reading/watching.

Another reason why I disagree with the superiority of the novel is that, personally, I believe the genre of horror translates much better over film than book. Maybe I just haven’t read the right book yet, but I am yet to be scared or even nervous reading a horror novel, whereas watching a horror film (which incidentally happens to be my favourite genre) can generate much more panic and a sense of exhilaration. I believe this partly has to do with the soundtrack of horror films, where the often non-diegetic music builds up this feeling of terror before anything remotely scary has even occurred. There’s also the fact that, specifically when watching it in the cinema, the atmosphere is very fitting for viewing horror, e.g. the darkness, and the largeness of the screen which makes it feel like there’s no escape. This environment is perfect for watching horror, but when reading horror you can’t exactly read it in pitch black, and the book itself as a material object doesn’t create the all-consuming and overwhelming feeling that the screen does.

Additionally, it is illogical to say that, unless you have watched every film adaptation that exists, the book is always better. There is a high chance that there is a film version out there that you prefer to the novel. This can have to do with whether you read the book before watching the film, or watch the film before reading the book. When I watch the film version before reading the book, I connect more with the plot that is shown on screen (as often this differs at least somewhat to that of the book). Granted, there are exceptions to this rule. For example, when watching a Harry Potter film before reading the book it’s adapted from, despite always enjoying the film, I then go to read the book and find little missing details to contribute to my understanding of the Wizarding World that absorb me more than the film does. Of course, this is different for everyone, as you cannot expect every single person to have the same response. Nor would you want it, as both film and the novel thrive off difference in interpretations and opinions.



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