Why I hate (even good) movies based on books

September 28, 2011 § 456 Comments

Yesterday I heard the news that the classic Roald Dahl book, The BFG (big, friendly giant) is being adapted for the big screen. Every time I hear about another one of my favorite books going to film I can’t help but cringe.  I think of adaptations of books like Michael Crichton’s Timeline, which I had to turn off halfway through (something that I have only done a handful of times in my life); or Eragon, which was too terrible for words, cutting so many corners in the story that they ended up with a circle; and I live in constant fear that the Ender’s Game movie might someday happen.

That said, it actually looks like Dreamworks might be going about The BFG the right way, by hiring the writer who brought us E.T. and the producer of Indiana Jones.  It’s clear they are trying to do the story justice, but to me, that’s beside the point.  I love books and I love reading and I love encouraging kids to love books and reading. Every time another book-derived movie comes out it feels like it is condemning the book to obscurity.  Too many times I’ve asked someone if they’ve read Harry Potter or The Lord of the Rings and they say, “No, but I’ve seen the movies.”  Why can’t people who want to experience these worlds sit down for a few hours and read?  We bemoan the decline of reading among kids, yet are we too eager to abridge and dilute our stories, characters, and worlds so that kids don’t have to read them?  The coveted “movie deal” is held up as the ultimate authorial achievement.

I understand that publishing is a business like any other, and I know that many books’ sales are boosted by being optioned for a movie, but it kills me that when there is a cultural phenomenon like Harry Potter, rather than encouraging kids who are curious about all the fuss to sit down with a book, we spoon feed them the story through the silver screen (and all too often only after forcing it through a funnel).  And we seem to do this to all the movies that get big enough to really draw kids into reading.

Am I just blowing off steam here?  Is this a problem?  Or do you think that movie adaptations drive more people to the books?


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§ 456 Responses to Why I hate (even good) movies based on books

  • I agree with you completely. I do not think move adaptations drive people to books… not at all… Great post!

    • nor do they EVER do the story justice. There is something you find in the pages of a book that can and never will be translated onto the screen. The constant making of movies will only continue to dumb-ify our kids. dumb-ify? is that a word???

      • Jaret Lynch says:

        Dumb-ify should be a word! haha, on topic though I think it can both ways, I do agree it can be misleading to kids and some people when things are not portrayed as they originally were meant to be..but that can also lead to new ways of thinking and discovering things about a story or plot you wouldn’t of otherwise.

    • afroflare says:

      I totally agree, and it’s not just with novels comics as well,they tend to always either leave something special out or make a character we love the most crap.

    • rastelly says:

      The worst adaptions I feel, are made off anything
      that is remotely horror oriented – these films
      fade into obscurity and drag the books down
      with them – often endings are changed, destroying
      the twists that made them popular in the first place.
      I Am Legend, was based on one of the most thought
      provoking stories I had ever read – yet because of the
      changes made to the ending – it was just another post
      apocolyptic zombie shoot em’ up – doomed to fade into
      well – deserved obscurity – Another of my favorite
      thrillers – The Relic, killed off a character that
      goes on to be the main antagonist in the author’s
      sequel. Fortuneately – it spawned a series that is
      still going stroung – and if your interested in obscure
      tales that will most likely never be comitted to film –
      There are plenty on my site, from a brief bio of the
      working dead – to a small novel called RUST – a wrong
      turn into an abandoned way station where secrets lie
      sleeping behind closed doors. Join the hapless supply
      pilot, Amelia Jones, as she struggles to wrest her past
      from the ghosts of Sky Land, a decaying theme park
      with a decommissioned air-base at its heart.

      • completely agree with you about I Am Legend (the latest one). great great book, recent movie, not so much. Now, if you’ve never read the book or had no expectations for the movie, it was ok. There was a movie remake of I Am Legend that did the book justice, and that was the original remake, Last Man on Earth, with Vincent Price. a great movie, and nearly verbatim to the book.

  • litflick says:

    Each to their own I guess. Realistically, I think children who watch the movie but aren’t bothered to visit the book…wouldn’t even have given themselves the chance to be exposed to the world of the author were it not for the film.

    So, in my opinion, it’s a good thing that films based on books exist. At least in this way the child would (at the very least) appreciate the fact that something big, intriguing and worthy of attention can originate out of the written word.

    Unless the film is terrible. But that’s another story hehe…

    • R. H. Culp says:

      I think there’s a lot of truth to this and I really think it comes down to perspective. If the goal is to share a story, character, or world with as many people as possible, than a screen adaptation is great. But if the goal is to get more kids to read, which is more important in my mind, then we’re shooting ourselves in the foot. In truth I think it’s usually not about either, it’s about making money and whatever else happens, happens.

      • jennphelps1 says:

        The joy of a book is in the imagination of the reader. From page one until the last glorious letter on the very last page, we are transported not only by the words but how we translate those words ourselves. The problem with movies is that we are told how a character looks, the timbre of his voice etc…instead of taking the black and white page and seeing the world in our minds.

      • litflick says:

        @ R.H. Culp : You may be right on that front…financial gain seems to be the most important thing for many Hollywood blockbusters (unfortunately). However, the more ‘indie’ producers do seem to put a lot of effort into their art, even at the risk of financial failure at times. I personally think this is admirable – especially when the finished work is something that genuinely moves the viewer or gives him/her something to think about (as, I think, should preferably be the case with all art).

        @jennhelps1 : Mhm…I’m not sure on this point. One can argue that painting presents everything ready for us as well, so to speak. Surely, painting must be ‘art’ though..right? I think there are (or rather, ‘can be) other things at play in a film which could make it worthy of the same weight we give to literature. (As much as I hate to compare two different media of communication and expression…)

        If you’re interested in seeing how different films successfully manage to do some of these things I’d appreciate it if you could visit my website :): http://litflick.wordpress.com/

        I review books and films there – two things I love! ❤

    • rastelly says:

      You have a point – it’s a fast paced
      world we live in and sometimes it’s
      just faster to watch the movie – you
      are not asking for as much of the
      viewer’s time – in other words.

      There are also exceptions – The Grinch
      Stole Christmas with jim carrie was even
      more entertaining to me then the beloved
      book. I don’t think I ever laughed so hard.
      Yet it’s a rare swan in a sea of turkeys.

  • If anything, the problem lies with kids expecting all good books to be turned into mediocre movies, or complaining “That wasn’t in the movie” when they do read a good book. There are exceptions to this rule (ie “The Silence of the Lambs”) but they are few and far between. Congrats on a great FP post.

  • 4myskin says:

    I suppose it could go both ways. Some people love books (such as myself) and will often go and read a book because they/I know the book is going to be better than even this awesome XYZ movie! On the other hand…at least kids who don’t read are being exposed to the great literary stories…even if they aren’t going about it the correct way in a book lover’s opinion.

    • needformercy says:

      I tend to do both. Because frequently the movie does change things. Granted not every book is an exciting read like the movie is to watch, but most books are worth the read. And you are right, it is better to have them watch the movie at least, or they would miss even more. And the movie could finally convince them to get the book/story.

    • I agree mostly with you 4myskin. But I think people have to remember they are two different mediums. I cringe when any movie is done poorly and the odd time when a movie is not even close to the book.
      But the purists have to come to terms with the fact you cannot copy a book word for word into a movie. On top of that everyone walks away from the book with a different perspective/interpretation on the story/characters. You tend to project a bit of yourself into the book.

      I envy anyone who has the time to read all the books they want. I am too busy to read all the time. Not too lazy to read a book.

  • sponsell says:

    You are right.
    Some movies make me think as if I’ve never known the story before.
    And I think they are just for people who are so lazy to read the book 😛

  • Melissa says:

    I totally agree with you on the major points about getting kids to read. I’m a librarian, and often times I’ve had teenagers coming to the library asking to see the movie version of a book they were supposed to read for their book report—all because it is shorter, and they have run out of time! What they don’t realize is that the movies are just snippets of a novel, so they are not getting the full picture (no pun intended)! However, I do like seeing a movie AFTER I have read the book, just to see how well it was done and where the differences lie between the two. Sometimes it is nice to actually see things you have read, come to life (although many times what you have envisioned in your head turns out to be much better) on screen. I actually compare books to movies on my blog for that reason.

    • I totally agree with you! I have always read the book and then seen the movie as I’m usually much more impressed with the book and don’t want to end up not reading a good bok because of a bad movie. Fortunately most books become movies because they are so great (Harry Potter, Golden Compass etc.), unforunately a lot of awesome classic books (like the BFG) get made into movies before the next generation has a chance to read them. Since the BFG was one of my childhood favourites I’ll be making my son read it before he’s allowed to see the movie!

  • misci says:

    I would say I partly agree with you. Yes, movie adaptations have grown over the past years and yes, some of them are absolutely horrific while others are quite good.
    Hopefully, when a piece of literature gets opted to be adapted to the big screen it brings people to the actual literary works, as it most often does to me. Personally, I prefer to read the written work before I see the visual work, because I prefer to visualise my own world before I see other people’s take on it. This take has often lead me to be very dissapointed or surprised by how accurate my imagination was in corelation with the original.
    One positive thing you can say about this it, that big screen adaptations will lead more people to the actual books. 🙂

  • Chey says:

    I definitely get you. And I never thought about it like this before, thank you for opening my mind.

  • sarahnsh says:

    I think that reading a book and seeing a movie are two very different things and a book gives us so many details that it’s kind of hard to bring that to life in a movie. I know I end up favoring the book 99.9% of the time which is why when I see a book that is being translated into a movie I see the movie first and then read the book because it turns out much better that way. 😉

  • crimsonlocks says:

    I see and agree with your point, mostly. But I think the movies do drive people to the books quite often. Maybe not as much as we hope, but they do help. My husband never read anything until I dragged him along to the Harry Potter movies. After the second one he decided he needed to read the books for himself, and since then he’s become a reading machine! I know of other people that the same has happened for them. I also know a lot of people who when a movie is coming out based on a book, they will go read the book first before seeing the movie so they can compare the two. Of course, movies are NEVER as good as the books, but I think they can make a nice companion….most of the time. There are bombs that can completely destroy a book for me, but it’s rare.

  • avee50 says:

    I don’t agree with you totally as there are few greatest adapted movies. But there is no doubt that a movie can never do justice with the book. Words have their own magic and imagination which a movie can never give.

  • lifeunfoldsus says:

    The Eragon movie was easily the worst book-movie I have ever seen. I’d say that the Narnia movies were pretty good, but the most recent one, ‘Voyage of the Dawn Treader’ was so not based off the book it made me want to tackle my TV and beat it to a pulp with a sword. Books that are made movies either make everyone think that the book sucks or that there is no book, as that is what happened with ‘Zorro’ and ‘E.T.’. I’m willing to bet that three quarters of people only know about the Trojan War because Brad Pitt played Achilles in ‘Troy’. It’s just pathetic. You’d think the movie directors would be creative enough to come up with something original, instead of just being like ‘I can’t think of anything right now. Oh, hey, call up Christopher Paolini and ask if we can make a steaming pile of dragon feces out of his book! That’ll give us something to make money off of!’

    • R. H. Culp says:

      The first Narnia movie wasn’t terrible, but I hate what it did to Peter’s character. In the books he was a great character foil to Edmund’s selfishness but in the movies (especially in Prince Caspian) they made him whiny, selfish, and obnoxious. I can forgive plot changes in a movie, but when they start messing characters I love I have much less patience.

      • Lola says:

        Ugh, I totally agree! They made Peter into a prig. He was a little bit insufferably noble in the books (at least for my taste, but I like the development of a character like Edward more than I like a character that doesn’t have to change at all), but he wasn’t that awful.

  • Beth says:

    Gosh, this is my absolute pet peeve. Glad to see someone else up on the soap box! Years later, I still start twitching when The Two Towers or Return of the King are mentioned (FOTR was more or less ok). I could give more examples, but there isn’t room! 😉

    Movies simply cannot do justice to the complex characters literature gives us.Time and time again the plot gets trashed and the characters are utterly unrecognizable. I always think, ‘how hard is it to just follow the basic plot and stay true to the characters?’ After all, they are why we love the book in the first place!

    If it makes you feel any better, my 12 yo daughter is a huge fan of the Hunger Games trilogy. She flat out refuses to see the movie version – she says they will ruin it! She feels the same about Percy Jackson movie vs book – she did see that one and was disappointed.

    I think literary adaptations can be useful – if kids read the book first then see the movie, they can make observations about the differences and intelligently debate their observations.

    Of course, that is only if they actually read the book. *Sigh*

    Great post and hopefully you get some good discussion!

  • megmraz says:

    Oh my gosh, I couldn’t agree more. This line of thought has been a present in some of my posts, too. Oh, how I cringe when quality books like Ella Enchanted and The Invention of Hugo Cabret are morphed into gimmicky misrepresentations motivated solely by money.

    The genius of books (like with my personal favorite, the Harry Potter series) is distilled when presented in movie form. Granted, most of the HP movies are great, but they pale in comparison to the complexity and imagination of the books themselves. I know the creators of the HP movies made a concerted effort with the author to remain true to the stories… and I realize the necessary limitations of film… but the only way to truly experience J.K. Rowling’s witty writing is through the books. To only watch the movies is to do a disservice to the author… and to you! You’re missing out on some beautiful intricacies and side stories.

    You asked, “do you think that movie adaptations drive more people to the books?” The results from the movie hype is mixed. I’ve seen many who are satisfied with the easily-digested movie form… but I do come across the rare student (I teach middle school) or adult (like my husband) who has been inspired by the movies to check out the books. Hmmm.

    To parents: when children are intrigued by a story’s hype, please turn them to the books first! What an amazing opportunity to encourage children to unplug the electronics and read. Chances are, they will improve their own creativity and reading/writing skills. ; )

    Thank you for your post! Sorry my response jumped around a bit. : )

    • umiyuri says:

      I must fall into the category of ‘the rare student’ then. I would never have read Harry Potter or The Lord of the Rings if I hadn’t been influenced to do so by the films.

      However, I’ve always wanted to go into film more…

      (Additionally, the books of Eragon are all absolutely horrible, so even a bad movie does it more justice than it deserves!)

  • Honestly, I just think not everyone is a fan of movies and books. I for one saw the first Harry Potter film without having read the books. I loved it and refused to read the books until I saw all the films so I could keep the two completely separated. I have now begun reading the books and they are their own universe for me. I picture it differently than the movie adaptation. It works both ways though because I have several friends who were fans of books and refused to see the movie versions because they didn’t believe it could be done properly. I think it comes down to people being unable to unmerge the two worlds. They don’t approach them as a movie AND a book, they look at it as the same thing. And if they see the film don’t see a point in reading about it. I do think that society has become too fast paced and people are in too big of a hurry to appreciate a good novel any more, which is clearly shown with the decline in publishing sales. It’s sad because there’s a lot more fantastic literary work out there than there are good, original movies.

  • macmaker says:

    I too love the BFG, and cringed when I heard it was being turned into a book. There’s just such a small, small chance it will turn out ok let alone good.

  • pezcita says:

    Movies about books are just so tempting, especially for those of us who read at a snail’s pace. “A few hours” can turn into a few months when the printed word is added, and by then we forget what the beginning of the story is about. The solution? Audiobooks. They tell the whole story, and you can listen to them while driving, etc. Best of all, they don’t distract from the imaginative power of literature. They’re great! As long as we have audiobooks, movies about books aren’t really necessary.

  • larosson says:

    You’re absolutely right. Even good adaptations must compress the source material too much to live up to it. I recommend you read Virginia Woolf’s short essay ‘On the Cinema’ for a really wonderful intellectual exploration of how visual mediums cannot express as much as the written word no matter how hard they try.

    I would also point out a really small example of something that bugged me about Potter 8. There’s a scene where a Slytherin girl declares she wants to hand Harry over to the Death Eaters and Professor McGonnagal says ‘Take Slytherin house to the dungeon.’ That NEVER happened in the books. Rowling made it very clear that they would never treat Slytherins differently, but for some reason the films decided to put in this ‘Take that, Slytherin!’ moment and for what? To give the audience a Neathderthal moment of gratification? It was unfair and went against the message of the books – but they put it in because film-makers of big budget movies like this always condescend to their audience in ways that books don’t have to.

    Check out Hank Green’s ReadIt1st.com website – it’s a really cool site.

  • rukhe zahra says:

    i totally agree to you..maybe movie adaptations drive more people to the books but, its damaging the reading habits of kids.

  • Elle says:

    I would have to agree with you. Most books are better played-out in my head, like the Twilight Series, or Timeline. (I absolutely HATED Timeline! I watched it and kept thinking, “maybe NOW they’ll get it right. Or NOW.”) The Hobbit though… I dreaded reading that story and LoTR actually made it a little more enjoyable for me. Some children’s books also make great movies. I recently saw Bridge to Terabithia and although the beginning was a little different from the book, the story line pretty much kept in line. I read “A little princess” to my daughter, then we watched the movie and had fun picking out inconsistencies together but it was still alright. I guess it all depends on how much you love the book. I usually make it a rule that if I LOVE the book, I do not watch the movie.

  • etomczyk says:

    You are so, so right! You and I are cut from the same cloth. I can’t tell you how many people called and asked me if I’d seen “The Help” and how many times I had to reply: “I’m reading it first. When I’m finished, then and only then, will I decide if I’ll see the movie.” I had read “The Lord of the Rings” four times before the concept of ever seeing the movie entered my mind. I’m so glad it came out years before the idea of sending it to film was born. If you start a club about this, I’ll join 🙂
    (The worst adaption of a book to film: Pat Conroy’s The Prince of Tides

  • myfairlange says:

    Well, I’d have to say that, as a reader, movies definitely get my attention. If I see a good movie trailer the first thing that I do is google the heck out of it to see if it is a book. It really helps introduced me to some really great stuff. However, I completely agree with you on some level, some of the greatest books I have read have been butchered on the big screen. Also. LIFE FACT: the book will ALWAYS be better than the movie. I highly encourage my friends as much as i can to READ THE BOOK FIRST!!!

    • R. H. Culp says:

      I have to admit that I do the same thing on occasion. I had tried to get into George R. R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones, but faltered in the face of too many characters and too little free time. Then when the trailers started coming out for the show I thought to myself that if the trailers for a tv show looked good, the book had to be good too. I’m not sure that’s the best reasoning in the world, but it did drive me back to the book and I read the first four in about three weeks.

  • Cathy says:

    I think movie adaptations make the people more interested in reading the book itself but it also limits them in a way. When we read books, we picture out everything on our imagination. We choose to see the character the way we want to see them. In movies however, we are being dictated on how a character or the setting should look like. And so, we see the story in the way that the directors/producers want us to see it and not in that way we have imagined.

  • Anne says:

    Great article and I completely agree. My mom and I cringe everytime my father picks up a book we are reading and says “I’ll wait for the movie.” Although I will say that having read Potter and LOTR I do enjoy experiencing both stories through the different mediums that are offered. And I can’t diss all adaptations because there are those rare films (The Silence of the Lambs) that equal the original work or even surpass it (The Notebook). But I get your point; this generation really should read more. Amen!

    • R. H. Culp says:

      Coincidentally, my full time job is as a video producer and I’d be the first to tell you that there are things that video and film are better at. You’re right when you said that they are just two different mediums. I can’t think of any books based on movies that were better than the films they came from. But yes, this generation should read more.

  • Pearl says:

    This post is so incredibly timely!

    Last week, I finished devouring “Wuthering Heights”, thoroughly enjoying its richness and intensity.

    Just last night, I endured the movie version with Ralph Feinnes and Juliette Binoche. Talk about castrating a plot!! I was so disgusted, and really, I should’ve known better than to wonder if such a novel could actually be translated to the screen. My response is a resounding “no!”

    So, yeah, it’s a big problem. Many people are impatient and, thanks to the information age saturating blogs, ipads and smart phones, lots of folks have very short attention spans, hopping from headline to headline. So rather than pick up a 500 page novel, most will gravitate toward the flick and, thus, be fed insipid and anemic portrayals. Tragic.

    On the other hand, I do believe there remains (for a time) die hard readers who, having begun with the movie version, will have their curiosity piqued, knowing from past experience that movies never do novels justice. Case in point: years ago after seeing “Schindler’s List”, I was so moved and knew the book had to be even richer. This had to be the one time where the opposite was true. I found the book to be very dry and merely factual, without much feeling.

    What a great thought-provoking post which I wouldn’t have discovered had you not been “Freshly Pressed”!

    • R. H. Culp says:

      Thanks for your kind words. I have to admit that I read Schindler’s List first and thought the movie took a few too many liberties to make it more marketable, especially with a true story. I particularly didn’t like the end of the movie where Schindler breaks down over how much more he could have given but didn’t. If my memory serves me correctly, he by the end of the war he had nothing left to give and lived the rest of his life as a poor man.

  • The movie is never as good as the book.

  • Joe Crowley says:

    I have to agree that many people would rather wait for the movie than read the book, but then again, you have people like me that will read the book AFTER they watch the movie/tv series. A lot of times, people get tired of the junk that is out there, and need a way to sort through the mess. One of those ways is to get a quick preview of what a book might have through media and then sit down and invest themselves for hours in a book.

  • great post! i’ve learned to view the movie adapted from a book as a completely different piece of art than the book. the reason for this was my experience with “to kill a mockingbird” which is a great book and a great movie but they are great in different ways. i’ve also learned to lower my expectation from the film–nothing disappoints more than bad movies from great books (i’m thinking “angela’s ashes) here.
    congrats on FP.

  • Ben Franks says:

    I couldn’t agree with you more! I love reading myself, though probably a different pool of literature to Dahl books and Potter-phenomenons, but I agree the worlds created through reading and rely partially on the beauty of imagination provide stimulus the Silver Screen will never, ever be able to offer.

  • Chris DS says:

    I 100% agree with you. Sometimes movie adaptations are absolutely awful! But in some cases they are actually quite good. And BTW I can proudly admit that I have NEVER watched a Harry Potter film OR Lord of the Rings.

  • nida says:

    I know exactly what you mean! As soon as there is a movie out there, no one bothers with the book and 99.99% of the time the movie is an abridged version of the book without even half the complexity of plot and character development! Sigh…

  • rosangela.santos@usp.br says:


    I liked your post a lot and I really used to think just like that, based on my own experience: I’ve seen all Harry Potter’s movies but I hadn’t read the books.. well, until now.

    After the last movie I decided to read the books. I’m reading the fifth one right now. 🙂

    Actually I think it all depends a lot on the person. Some people simply hate reading and these people will watch the movies and they will never read the books. But some people enjoy reading a lot. They will see the movies, they will think “the book (or books) might be good or better than the movie; let’s check”.

    I think that we should encourage children and also adults to compare movies and books. These are two completely different arts and both cinema and books have some sort of magic and interest. So, I really believe we shouldn’t avoid movies adaptations based on books, but instead, we should encourage discussions, in which people can compare movies and books.

    Thanks a lot for the opportunity of reading your post.

    Regards from Brazil.

  • Lex says:

    “Jaws” was substantially better as a movie than a book. But that’s a rare exception.

  • I hope they never make Ender’s Game. I want that to stay in Development Hell.

    I agree that no matter how good the movie adaptation is, it is never as good as the book because it can never be as detailed.

    Too bad this society doesn’t read more. Too bad we value movies more than literature.

  • oskalaboska says:

    As a comic book nerd and a child of the 80’s, I totally understand how you feel. Its like they take my heart out and gut it. I’ve gotten to the point that I barely watch American films because I could just read the book (or comic, or original TV Show).

    Movie adaptations don’t encourage people to read. When I tell people the Bourne Identity and Silence of the Lamb were books, they look at me like I was stupid. And when I show them my copy, I’m just classified as the eccentric crazy person.

    • Amber says:

      Oh, I’m so glad I wasn’t the first to mention the horror of what they do to comic books. And in comic books, they often have various versions of the storyline… but they can’t get ANY of them correctly. Possibly the worst one of late was “Green Lantern”, which was my FAVORITE comic book series. -_-

      Sorry. I’m finished.

  • gronya says:

    The BFG is already an awesome movie. We had it on video when I was small and I think it’s the only Roald Dahl book I’ve never read because I’d already seen the movie. I hope they keep it British and get David Jason to do the voice again.

    It seldom happens but sometimes I prefer the movie to book. LA Confidential worked better as a movie for me, so did Roddy Doyle’s Commitments (the book almost read like a film script), Fight Club also works very well on the big screen. But I agree that movie producers should be more adventurous and go for original material instead of always going for the tried and tested formula.

  • Lola says:

    I’m a bit embarrassed to admit to it, but I’ve been driven to books by movies that I’ve enjoyed. Mostly stuff that I didn’t even realise was a book before it was a movie – like ‘Defiance’, and ‘Let the Right One In’.

    In saying that, what I really hate is when they put the movie cover on the book. That’s just horrible… I lost my original copy of ‘Trainspotting’ (or rather, had it lost for me) around the time that the movie came out, and I had to wait what seemed like aeons before I could get a copy that didn’t have the movie poster instead of a proper cover. ‘Fight Club’ was the same. Now, come on publishers – settle for a removable ‘This book was a movie!’ sticker and have done with it.

    I heard a while ago that they’re going to make a series out of ‘American Gods’ though… a TV series. I’m worried.

    • R. H. Culp says:

      I feel exactly the same way about books with movie covers. I’ve been browsing used book stores for years for a copy of Isaac Asimov’s “I, Robot” but I can’t find one without Will Smith on the cover. Which is especially egregious because the book has almost nothing in common with the movie besides the laws of robotics.

  • Rachel says:

    I hadn’t heard the ominous news about the BFG, but I grew up on Roald Dahl and now I’m having bad flashbacks of Where the Wild Things Are (movie version). When you have a book as perfect and pure as the BFG or Wild Things, please, I beg, no movies!! I couldn’t agree with you more….I’m personally dreading the day that some ignorant movie exec gets the rights to the rest of Chris Van Allsburg’s books (remember the cinematic fiasco that was Jumanji??) or the Phantom Toll Booth!

    Great post, congrats on FP!!

  • natasiarose says:

    I think that a movie adaptation of a book can help get kids into a bookstore. Remember when in the 90s writing a book that was essentially a screenplay of a movie was popular? That was a better time.

    Great post!

  • I totally agree with you. As a 17-year-old (who read all the Harry Potter, Twilight, and Lemony Snicket books before the movies), I hate that my favorite books are being ruined, too. Also, a lot of the more subtle points in books are hard to convey through movies, and half of the meaning gets lost in translation. I say, if you’re not old enough to read or understand the book, you shouldn’t see the movie, but many children too young to grasp the concepts and ideas from books know the movie dialogue by heart. It’s a disgrace to my generation.

    • R. H. Culp says:

      And if a book is too complicated, isn’t that a great opportunity for a parent to sit down with their son or daughter and help them through it. I have very fond memories of reading Michael Crichton with my dad as a middle schooler. And that’s not even touching on the fact that there are so many great books no matter what age you are. The problem is our culture not valuing books and reading high enough and that is being picked up by younger generations.

  • Miriam Joy says:

    I know that movies bring more people to books – movie adapted things always sell more. BUT I still hate most films that were books first. Like the Inkheart film. I loved that book, but HATED the film. It was so terrible! And I agree about Eragon, although the book itself could have been better in the first place. Sooooo much was changed about that.

    There’s a campaign online called ‘Read it first’ which is a pledge you can sign to say you’ll read it before seeing the film if at all possible. It was started by Hank Green, one of the vlogbrothers. It’s always been a rule in our house anyway, though I’ve broken it with 3 (?) films.

    In fact, it was so much of a rule that I’d read Lord of the Rings before I’d been eight a month.

  • lexy3587 says:

    I’d definitely say that the movie adaptation is a good way of convincing kids that books are good. It was never an issue for me, because everyone in my family reads, but i’d like to think that watching the Harry Potter series convinced a few kids to give reading it a go. You’re right about a lot of the adaptations being poor and disappointing compared to the book, though – which is kind of a plus for the book. a kid sees and enjoys a movie, then reads the book and realises how much better it is 🙂
    unless it’s the golden compass, in which case they’ll watch the movie, be completley confused and unimpressed, and never, ever pick up the amazing book of the same name.

  • librarina says:

    While some people would rather watch the movie than read the book, I find that a lot of people come in to my library looking for the book when a book-to-movie deal is announced. Every time a new Harry Potter movie comes out, all of our *many* copies of the books fly off the shelves. Now that The Hunger Games has been turned into a movie, all three books in that trilogy have super-long waiting lists. Some people will never read the book if a movie is available, but a lot of people actually learn about some pretty great books *because* they have been turned into a movie. I’m holding out hope that the BFG movie gets a new generation of kids hooked on Roald Dahl!

  • Kemi says:

    Sometimes. It certainly did for Harry Potter (the books were not that well-written).
    I read ‘Never Let Me Go’ by Kazuo Ishiguro about 3 years ago and I’ve simply refused to watch the movie. I loved the book so much and I think seeing the movie will spoil the memory of the book for me. However, friends have send it is a great movie… Dunno, maybe someday when I start forgetting how the book made me feel, I’ll watch the movie.

  • Mariajose says:

    I completely agree. I actually have a rule that I follow: Never watch a movie without having read the book first. This is the reason why I have yet to watch The Notebook. It’s also like Eat, Pray, Love. Such a crappy book in my opinion yet it was way better than the movie which just butchered it into little pieces.

    I remember when I was forced to read a book in school and most of my classmates would say that they would just watch the movie. This pretty much lets you know that movies are making people pretty dumb.

  • I think that movie adaptations really do drive more people to read the books, but only those of the younger generations. I think it’s a great way to get children involved in reading by allowing them to have a mental picture of what the characters may look like, etc.

    However, I agree with you in that I also cringe anytime a book is translated onto the big screen. I have actually ALWAYS preferred the book to the movie as I think it allows you to use your imagination more.

    Very interesting post! Congrats on being Freshly Pressed! 🙂

  • Michael says:

    Amen and amen. I think the only movie adaptation of a book that I like was Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Otherwise, I hate ’em all. They always cut out so much, or they change things for no good reason. Just look at the movie of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. I mean, creeping green mists? Naming Ramandu’s daughter? What? Oy.

  • As a young student, I am part of the youth today that reverts to movies instead of books. I still read my fare share of novels, but when the first Harry Potter book came out, I could not sit down and read a book that long. Even thought the first book isn’t very long, it certainly was to a second grader. Then the books continued to get longer. So, instead I watched the movies and read other books like The BFG. In my experience it has only been the students that excell in school that go out and read the books before the movie comes out. The students that would rather play video games or screw around, just go to the movies and they never pick up a book anyway. If the books aren’t made in to a movie, those kids would just go see a different one. I don’t think it’s the making books into movies that keeps kids from having to read the books, it’s laziness and prefering to do other things instead.

    • I think this is a great point. In my experience, the people who enjoy reading will go and read the book if they know a movie is based on a book. And if someone doesn’t like to read, it won’t matter whether movies are being made out of the books or not because those people aren’t going to go read the book just because there isn’t a movie made out of it.

  • K.S. Schultz says:

    I grew up in a household of readers, and think it is parents rather than the movies determining how a child is introduced to C.S. Lewis and J.K. Rowling. They are missing great imagination builders by opting for the abridged versions that we find in movies; my Narnia was not the same one shown in the movies.
    If we are to judge from the multitude of movies based on books and remakes of movies, we would surmise that there is not quality original work out there. Perhaps it is the publishing and movie industry that have gotten too lazy to mine the piles.

  • The problem is: Because there is 24 TV with 500 channels, the lack of films adapted from books would not drive anyone to books, it would drive them to watch crap.
    So I will tolerate book adaptations in cinemas but I will still prefer books myself, especially because I can smoke a cigar while reading them.

  • I agree in full. And giving Ender’s games the infamous “movie deal,” would be an unforgivable act on Hollywood’s behalf.

  • Erika Prins says:

    As you said, book sales increase when that book becomes a movie — which means more people do read the book as a result.

    That said, movies require very little imagination, whereas books require lots. When we make a movie out of a book, it takes the work out of creating mental pictures of skinny giants with gigantic ears and the snozzcumbers they eat. If many younger people are watching the movies, then reading the books, they’re allowing someone else to do the best part of reading — and possibly not developing the ability to do it themselves.

  • I think you are right. When I was younger, whenever a new movie came out that my brother and I wanted to see, my mom always made us read the book. To this day I still read the book(s) first then go see the movie. Even though my imagination is interpreted differently in watching the movie, I still think its a good idea to read the book first then see the movie because it makes more sense in understanding how the film wants to be viewed.

  • Lakia Gordon says:

    I completely agree! Some books are just classics that don’t need a movie, in my opinion.

  • timelesslady says:

    I’ve always loved books brought to the big screen…even when they change key scenes, Adapting books to screen has been going on a long, long time. Years ago, I remember watching Shirley Temple in “A Little Princess” with my grandmother. When Sara Crewe’s father lives in the movie, instead of dying as he did in the book, my grandmother was aghast. “That’s not how it happened,” she exclaimed. It spoiled the movie for her. For me…I still loved it though.

  • Laura says:

    I think if someone isn’t going to read, they just aren’t going to read. The ability to see a movie isn’t going to change that.

    In some cases, I think seeing the movie might make the book easier to understand depending on how you process information. (Also, I’m a dork and I like knowing how to pronounce everyone’s names).

    Personally, I like to read a book before I see the movie, and I’ll decide to read a book once I hear about the movie coming out. Sometimes this makes me decide not to see a movie because after reading the story I don’t think it would visually “work” (example, Time Traveler’s Wife).

  • Alyssa says:

    Ahh yes, the movies based on books argument. If only more parents would not allow their children to see the movies without reading the books first. (I’m not ashamed to admit this is why I read LOTR). If only more families read together rather than watched tv series.

    I wonder how you feel about books-into-games, or movies-into-books. The art of adaptation fascinates me. The ability to interpret an author’s words and descriptions and bring them to life in film is a talent to be sure; and I do believe some stories demand a larger platform than their indie-publisher can allow. (The film industry has so much more money and more promotional power than our dwindling booklovers). Should authors refrain from putting their art into the world if not in text form? Is it purely the author’s intent that bothers you, or is it a question of Art? Is this the fault of the author, or the parent, or the film industry?

    I do agree with you that the details of the story are often lost, and sometimes even its authenticity. I also agree that illiteracy is a huge problem. It makes me angry even to think of children (we all know the ones) who’d rather play video games than read, or ride their bike. I just wonder if adaptation is the problem-at-large; I think more to blame is the growing need for instant gratification, rather than the building love of Character, Story, Plot, Pages, Text, Spine, Imagining…

    • R. H. Culp says:

      You bring up so much I could practically write a whole second blog post just to respond, but instead I’ll synthesize it down to this:

      I don’t have a problem with adaptations in general, though as you mentioned the process of adapting from one medium to another is very challenging and inevitably some things will not survive the transition. There are a whole lot of bad books out there that were based on movies, and don’t even get me started on video games versus movies.

      My issue, and the reason I dislike even good movies based on books, is that books have taken a backseat to movies and we’ve let them. That wouldn’t be a big deal–technology and entertainment change all the time–except that there are a lot of intangibles that go along with reading and literacy. Not just imagination and delayed gratification, the results of which are hard to measure, but crime rates and the ability to empathize with other people. I’m not advocating books for books’ sake; I’m advocating books for the positive ways they influence society.

      The short answer.

      • Great argument and great blog. But we can’t just say not reading alone is causal, surely.
        We’ve lost the ability to socialise different age groups and interests. We’ve ‘blanded out’ much of our lives and yes film helps with that.
        One of the ways our lives was regularly enriched was through sharing in a less isolated environment than, say this blog. We no longer share willingly when we meet face to face and we rarely just casually read to each other, the odd paragraph, the odd chapter. All the sharing that brings cross age, cross culture socialisation reassures each one of us that we are OK, that what we are hearing/doing is not going to be derided/thought less of – it flattens out our tendency towards aggression and gives us our place in the group, in society as a whole. It passes on the mores of our culture in a supported environment.
        Oh, yeh, books are very much part of it and help build our skills of empathy and widen our horizons but at the moment, unless your group of ‘friends’ are doing it you’d better keep it secret. Books have to equal sharing too.
        Films are just a short-term gratification with no sense of development, a sledge hammer to the senses – they desensitise and stagnate the storyline both of the narrative and our minds. We read to ourselves and each other and slot the narrative and what it gives into our lives.

      • alyssa says:

        I’ll take your short answer! And wait for the second post… 🙂 Congrats on being freshly pressed!

  • myndmlt says:

    I agree completely. No matter how much I’ve heard folks rave about a good movie adaptation, it always ruins it for me. I’d have mentally pictured something about the characters or the situations and then what I see on screen just doesn’t appeal to me.

  • conordcfc says:

    Nice short piece and totally agree!

  • sbmartin says:

    I don’t think it would be so bad if people read the books too, but, as you mentioned, a lot of them watch the film and leave it at that, which is actually kind of sad because the books are usually so much better. When they turn them into films the directors usually cut out big chunks of the story. I have read all of the Harry Potter books to my kids and I can remember taking them to the theater to watch the first one. They wound up disrupting the audience more than once to exclaim that “this” wasn’t in the movie and “that” wasn’t in the movie. They weren’t very interested in watching the rest of them mainly because they thought the movies weren’t as good as the books.

  • I think people who like movies, like them for a reason. Books likers have their reasons for liking the read. Maybe the two are not compatible.

  • Absolutely great blog and comment entries. Apologies if point is already brought up and I’ve missed it in this great string of replies, but …
    Isn’t the movie in your head which you, the reader, create, always better than the one that comes filtered through money interests and many heads of the movie trade? 1) It’s your interpretation of the writer’s intent and hopefully the writer doesn’t know what your mind has done to their creation. 2) Money and committees write lousy stories. The interests of the original text have very little bearing on the interests of the movie financiers. I feel that it has to be accepted that all relationship to an original text is possibly at peril the minute the rights of said text are sold.
    And if anyone tries to make the movie of Ender’s Game they had better have the courtesy to call it something else that’s loosely based upon … or with thanks to.
    Do films bring us to the original text? Humph. If you’re not a reader anyway I think the most we can hope for is that it brings the film viewer to the simplified book of the movie. Anything else is simply a bonus. Getting down off orange box now.

  • There is NOTHING like the book and imagining the world of the story in your own minds eye; films will never come close to that!

  • I get your point but then there are certain books that translate wonderfully onto the big screen. The Corrections however will not be one of those books. I hear HBO is doing an adaptation. I’m biased towards the Potter franchise though. I remember only having gone through the first two books when Sorcerers Stone came out but if anything watching it all play out in live-action made me want to read ahead, and reread some parts once again. But then I’m much more forgiving than fellow readers. I don’t know there’s just something about seeing someone else’s interpretation of the character play out in front of me that I find fascinating. No Country for Old Men is another fantastic example. If it weren’t for that film I never would’ve discovered the genius of Javier Bardem. Still not on board for The Corrections though.

  • I totally agree! I think it hurts both books and movies to constantly reproduce the same stories in different mediums. Adults are worse than children when it comes to seeking out a book over just watching the movie.

  • We have a rule in our house that we don’t see the movie before we read the book. This policy encouraged my 9 year old to read Order of the Phoenix on his own this summer. I rarely enjoy the movies as much as the books because too much is left out.

  • C. Pendola says:

    Not only are these adaptations discouraging reading, but they are also turning filmmaking into a second-rate art form.

  • zenlifefrugal says:

    I agree with your thinking. Books seem to be disappearing and too many kids miss out on the opportunity of having their eyes opened as a result of reading.

  • shenanitim says:

    I have read the Lord of the Rings books, and regret it immensely. Learning the hard way not to read books made by writers who were being paid by the word…

  • Cassie says:

    I love Roald Dahl – bahhh. If they ruin this movie, and the books’ illustrations – I’m going to freak out. It’s like my favorite middle years book.

  • Dounia says:

    This is a very interesting post. I tend to believe that movies based on books will drive people who like reading to read the books. But people who don’t like reading in general, they won’t go read them, but at least they can still have a chance to enjoy the story. And perhaps someone who is partial to reading will be motivated to read after seeing a movie they really enjoyed. But I agree that unfortunately people just don’t read much anymore..which is truly a shame.

    I personally love reading, and would pick a good book over a movie, but even I am guilty of seeing certain movies first and then reading the books (saw the first 2 harry potter movies…but then devoured all the books already available at incredible speed and waited very impatiently and excitedly for the new ones to come out!) You might like my blog entry on books (http://tcknextstop.wordpress.com/2011/08/15/books-a-love-story/); hope you enjoy it.

    Thanks for sharing these thoughts, I really enjoying reading your post, and congratulations on freshly pressed!

  • AlexBPop says:

    I’d say they’re no doubt that producing a movie will increase the number of persons who read that particular book. Whether it helps them to experience the book is another matter. Once the movie has created a set of images for everything in the book, the reader no longer has to create the images for himself or herself.

  • You are so right about this. They used three pages of the book in Eragon, and I’m told Percy Jackson is even worse. The Harry Potter movies were decent, at most. They cut a ton out of the books, plus added in things that didn’t happen. I have a load of favourite books that I would really rather not have mauled by being made into films. Congrats on being FP!

  • apprecommend says:

    I agree, I find that what I like to do is that I read the book and then go see the movie to see the differences, and every time the book is better. But, the thing is, you can’t really compare the book to the movie, because they’re completely different forms of expression, and the movie can help to get the author more publicized at least.

  • Sruts says:

    Love your post!
    I love books, and it is the process of imagining and seeing words come to life in my head that makes my reading enjoyable. I’m not big on movies, but if I find that I like a movie and it’s based on a book, I go back and read the book, very rarely does the converse happen.
    Like someone said before me, I think people are lazy to form images on their own. They’d rather watch someone else’s interpretation of it, and complain, but not try and do it themselves.
    I hate it when someone says they don’t have the time to read. I mean, I love words, and I have my nose in a book almost every breathing moment, so it almost offends me when I hear that excuse. For me, it’s the book that’s closer to the heart than the movie. Given the choice, I’d pick the book, even if someone told me the movie was better!

  • I’ll take your question on step further:
    I’d say that the better the movie is, the worse it can be for the book.
    After all, if they get the movie right, and it follows the book well, what is the point of actually reading the book?
    I think the books that fare better are the ones that are butchered by the film. Because then people have to read the book if they want the real story.
    I know for me though, if there is a movie out based on a book that I want to see, I will go out of my way to read the book first. Or like I did with Game Of Thrones, read along with the TV series. just staying a few chapters ahead at a time.
    Bottom line: Book first! Then Movie!

    -Author Of Worlds-
    Brennon ThompSon

    • aunaqui says:

      Ditto to reading the book FIRST. For me, having lazily watched the movie would kill any motivation I had to plunge through an entire book (if I already knew how it was going to end, where the climax would hit, what twists and turns would appear — no more secrets). Watching the movie is actually fun AFTER you’ve read the book, because you’re curious to see how “accurate” it is and what details were added/ left out.

      So yeah.. book first. My motto FOREVER. Sometimes, it’s “book only,” if the experience wasn’t grand.

      Aun Aqui

    • R. H. Culp says:

      I feel the same way. I think most people finish the Lord of the Rings movies and think to themselves “I’ve spent enough time in Middle Earth, now back to youtube.” On the other hand, when I finished watching Jumper (in my defense I didn’t know it was a book first) I walked out of the movie thinking “I bet that would be a really good book.” On the other hand I saw I Am Number Four this summer (I have no excuse here, I knew it was a book first) and I doubt if I’ll ever go out of my way to look up the book, primarily because I couldn’t ever respect those villains after seeing it.

  • Carlos Pimentel says:

    Personally, I do not like watching adaptations to books I have already read. But I cannot fault the movie industry because I have been introduced to other books because of these movies. Harry Potter, Youth in Revolt, It’s Kind of a Funny Story to name a few.

    Books are forms of solitary enjoyment, while movies bring people together.

  • silvergirl3 says:

    I’d have to respectfully disagree. I work as a library assistant in a public library and there are always dozens of holds on any book that has a corresponding movie in theatres. I would say, in my experience anyway, that we who love books owe thanks to Hollywood for boosting readership.

    • R. H. Culp says:

      I love hearing this perspective and I have an undying respect for all things library and librarian. I’d love to know how many of those people are already readers who are just becoming aware of a new book and how many are people who don’t often read but are making an exception because of the movie? I don’t think that eliminating all book adaptations is going to drive every child in America to the library, but I think it would send a few who want to know what this Harry Potter is that everyone is talking about. Even more I think it’s an indication of the way our society thinks about books and movies: a book becoming a movie is an upgrade. But I’d love to hear your thoughts.

  • Good point. I don’t hate movies based on books. I like reading the book and watching the movie after reading because it’s nice to see how someone else interprets the book. But people who only watch movies and not books does bother me though ^_^

  • I agree with silvergirl – that and I’m a huge reader and I love reading the books before the movies come out if I see one coming out that I haven’t read yet – I go and get it!


  • corlosky says:

    Video killed the radio star. Hollywood killed the novel (or is in the process of doing so). I, too, get depressed when I hear someone’s coming out with a movie version of an amazing book. The silver screen has absolutely butchered some of my favorite stories, sometimes to the point that I hate the author for allowing such mutilation. The worst part is that the people who actually do go back and read the book believe the book is terrible after seeing the movie, though the movie is actually based off the book. It’s a shame.

    I seem to be in the minority when I say I love to read. Books were and still are like companions to me. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve cried over a character in a book, or been depressed because I finished the last page. Never has a movie version brought me the same rush of emotion and connection to the characters. They’ve only made me cry because they’ve lost the original character development, detail, and in some cases, plot line.

    I do think it’s a problem that most people rely on directors and producers to provide them with what is merely a summary of a book rather than get the whole story, and create their own interpretations, from reading the original text. It doesn’t help students when they rely on movie versions of the classics they’re supposed to be reading. It doesn’t help children when they don’t even exercise their imagination anymore, but rather have other people imagine it for them. Books are our past. And it will be a sad day if that’s all they become, rather than a part of our future.

    Great post. I didn’t mean to go on so long, but I know exactly how you feel. Congrats on FP!

  • primalbrasil says:

    That’s such a great post! I absolutely agree, I just sad how the movie industry ends up closing possibilities for the kids!

  • Patia says:

    I think more than addressing whether or not kids/people actually go out and read the book after seeing the movie, all of these horrible adaptations speak to the role of the writer/author in the grand scheme of things. Once the movie rights have been sold, very few writers have any control over their original content. A movie that comes to mind is Tyler Perry’s “For Colored Girls.” Shange, the poet/playwright who actually penned the play/poem, sold the rights to some unknown director who,somehow got shafted and sold the rights to Tyler Perry. And so, this avant-garde work was turned into a two-bit melodramatic…trash

    It makes me sad. As far as children’s books go: I’d love to know what you thought of “Where the Wild Things Are?”

    I saw it over the summer and I’m still trying to decide how I felt about that….

    • R. H. Culp says:

      I loved the Where the Wild Things Are when I was little (after I got over how badly it scared me). I avoided the movie for a long time, but somehow got suckered into watching it with a group of friends last year. Honestly I’ve mostly blocked it out of my memory, but I really didn’t like it. The challenge with adapting a children’s book to film is the exact opposite of adapting an adult or even young adult novel. A children’s book takes less than a movie’s run time to read, and the characters aren’t as deep and complicated, so inevitably characters and plots get fleshed out (rather than cut down) and extrapolated in directions that may or may not have been in the original work. I think in lots of ways that’s even more difficult than synthesizing a novel down to its essence.

  • nikro000 says:

    I think the answer is “attention span”. We live in a society where we cannot bear to be not entertained. We are trying to teach our children in a fun way, which is fine, if we teach them that there are also activities that are somewhat lengthy, boring and sometimes (gasp!) hard and you have to “power through”. Or, as in the case of reading, there are activities where you have to be patient and develop certain skills to reap your reward. So many people do not give books a chance, because the reader has to perform actual work and the rewards are delayed.

    • R. H. Culp says:

      I totally agree. Part of the problem is that we’re not encouraging kids to read and practice those skills at a young enough age, and reading level is closely associated with success in life.

    • “We live in a society where we cannot bear to be not entertained.” wow, I’m going to contemplate this for awhile…. (vaguely reminded of Huxley and soma, but it’s different) nicely put!

  • Rai says:

    1. I completely agree with you! It bugs me so much when I get into a Harry Potter discussion with someone who has only seen the movies. THEY DON’T EVEN KNOW HALF OF THE STORY.
    Maybe this is unfair, but I always think, “You don’t even have the right to be talking about this!”
    Also, I just read Ender’s Game and LOVED it.

  • ReadingDiva says:

    I am happy to read this post, and I couldn’t agree more. One of the things I have noticed over the years is how mediocre book to film adaptations have become. I actually posted something similar in my blog about this and the worse adaptations I could think of.
    Great Books Not So Great Movies – Worst Book-to-Film Adaptations,
    you can check it out here. http://wp.me/p1NljK-9j

  • mamajar says:

    Yes! Yes! Yes! I feel exactly the same way! There’s nothing like reading a book and entering into that rich and complex world that is crested through the writers amazing use of words. I love how my mind actually “sees” what’s going on and it’s so much more intteresting and complex than a director could ever come up with. I’m shocked when people won’t even bother picking up a book. That being said, I do shamefully admit to simultaneously reading The Lord of The Rings and watching the films. It kind of helped me with the story and I thought PJ did a great job at being as faithful to the story as he could.

  • I was writing about this the other day (in a review of the new CW series, The Secret Circle), and thinking about it ever since someone told me that I should make a graphic novel out of my book to get the attention on the YA crowd. I balk at the idea of “diluting” my story to make it into something that is the literary equivalent of a chicken mcnugget. I am all in favor of a well-done adaptation, but it takes a neat trick to accomplish one of those.

    • R. H. Culp says:

      Good adaptations are hard to do, whether you’re going from books to movies, movies to books, books to graphic novels, video games to movies, or any other combination. They’re different mediums and require different storytelling techniques. Yes a lot of adaptations ruin the story, but I my bigger lament is for the fact that our society doesn’t encourage reading.

  • I’m with you. Hate it when they ruin my faourite books. I’ve already watched a film version of BFG and it wasn’t too good.

  • Rachel says:

    Not enough people read, nowadays. That said, I think it depends on the person, whether a movie will take them to the book. I’m a huge bookworm, so if I haven’t read the book already, the movie will usually find me looking for the book. I had never read enough of Charles Dickens, but when I saw the mini-series of Little Dorrit, I immediately went and read it.

    A truly horrific movie version will often keep people away from the book, though. Ever seen the movie Ella Enchanted? Oh, it SUCKED, but the book is fantastic. Shame on them for ruining the movie, and keeping so many people from finding an awesome book. If they HAVE to make the movie, they still need to do it RIGHT.

    As a nanny, I’m working on introducing my girls to more books. They’ve already watched AND read Harry Potter. I admit it, I got them hooked on the LOTR movies, and I’m reading them The Hobbit (LOTR is next).

    • Have them read Susan Cooper and Madeline L’engle. A Wrinkle in Time is one of my all-time favorite books, and Coopers “The Dark is Rising” series is really wonderful. I read both of these authors over and over again through my teens–and I have yet to see an adaptation that does either of them justice.

  • kleger says:

    Yeah, because the books, are WAY different from the movies, After I watch the movie, I like to read the books.
    Like I watched the Twilight movies before I got the books.
    Harry Potter, read the books, waiting to watch the movies.
    But I fine the books explain more then the movies.
    Favorite books:
    Nancy Drew
    Harry Potter.
    R L Stine

  • ruthsartwork says:

    I rarely like the movies made from a book I have read. I have already fleshed out the characters in my mind and the movie people seem to rarely agree with my vision. (LOTR and HP excepted.) I would much rather go the other way and see a movie first. That way I am not disappointed when my favorite parts are deleted or characters miscast in my mind. I read a lot and this can be a problem.

    Other horrid movies from a wonderful set of books is the BBC production of The Wizard of Earthsea by LeGuin and the first Dune (Herbert) movie. Both are unwatchable after 10 minutes. If you can get that far.

  • And even good books based on movies.

  • I personally enjoy reading a good book and then enjoying a good movie adaptation. A lot of kids who are into just watching the movie adaptation are probably modeling behavior they see among the adults in their lives.

  • baavang says:

    “…we spoon feed them the story through the silver screen (and all too often only after forcing it through a funnel)”

    Great wording – great post, thanks! 🙂


  • aunaqui says:

    “Every time another book-derived movie comes out it feels like it is condemning the book to obscurity.”

    WELL said.

    And no, you’re absolutely correct. I’ve spent a lot of time reading novels in the past few months (by such famed authors as Margaret Mitchell, Charlotte Bronte and Lucy Montgomery). I’ve also read bits and pieces of Jane Austen’s many works and upon browsing through the movie shelves at my local library yesterday evening, saw that there was a fairly recent production of Pride and Prejudice. I had considered reading the book, but figured I’d just “see what the movie was like.” It was about two hours long and, come the end of it, it meant NOTHING to me. I compared the experiences. With “Gone With The Wind” (a very exhaustive work), “Jane Eyre” and “Anne of Green Gables,” I became so attached to the characters and so a part of their experience (through hours of company) that the words, phrases, high-points, low-points and personalities will stay with me forever. With a movie, it’s very non-committal; you watch it, you sigh with relief when it ends the way you like, and you move on to the next source of entertainment. A book is much more.. much classier, much deeper – time well spent. It’s obviously more mind-stimulating, and just “better for you.”

    So I’m anti-“book movies” as well.

    Aun Aqui

  • strangecrumb says:

    I 100% agree with R.H. Culp!! For example, I saw “the lightning thief” movie and thought it was spectacular, until I read the graphic novel and had a spaz attack about how they ruined it completely. x0 at least it did inspire me to read the book. But this IS a topic I’ve spazzed about because yes, Eragon SUCKED.

  • I believe there is nothing wrong with adapting art from other mediums into film, as long as it is done with respect and quality. Can you imagine how many people had no idea what Lord Of The Rings was untill the movies came out? Though I doubt BFG will turn out well… I loved that book… Really takes me back…

  • There are two ways I look at this.

    In the case of The Rum Diary, I fear that too many Johnny Depp fan girls will rush screaming to see something with his name on it without ever having heard of Hunter S. Thompson.

    On the other hand, a handful of people might take something from it and go on to experience the rest of Thompson’s work (which would be delightful).

    I pretty much come from a background where the solution is ‘eh, I’ll watch the movie when it comes out’; this pretty much makes me the only person in my family (with the exception of my granddad) who has the scope to explain everything that the movie left out. I don’t know how many Harry Potter Household Lectures I’ve held since I was eight, but you know … the books are still there on my shelf. Siblings (and parents, if they wish) are welcome to borrow and read them. (as long as they take care of them)

    Movies can be a fun tie-in … but I don’t think it’s in me to replace the reading experience with watching the film, purely because I can gain SO) much more from a good book.

  • jjmckeown says:

    You nailed it. People want to get paid. Without question books are better left alone. Very few have delivered on the big screen.

  • Rachel says:

    This post was really wonderful, and I think it captures the feelings of most avid readers. I have known a few people who went and read a book because they watched the movie, but I would say those situations are the minority. Most people watch the movie and call it good.
    Even the best movies, however, are like reading the Wikipedia article about the book. Two hours simply can’t do justice to all the author’s ideas much less the use of language that a book captures. Peter Jackson did a wonderful job on the Lord of the Rings, and I enjoy them for what they are, but viewers are only experiencing Jackson’s interpretation of Tolkien’s work. To really discover Middle Earth as Tolkien intended it, people have to read the books. There’s no real substitute.

  • thoughts memories confessions says:

    I must say, I do agree with you that there is a golden rule to this growing phenomenon: movies simply cannot live up to the wonderful and magical experience one gets from reading a book.

    On the other hand I must say that I have watched a lot of people (teens mostly) hearing about or seeing a movie and afterwards reading the book. Maybe it’s because I live in the Netherlands and here we aren’t completely up to date with the latest bestsellers in the US or UK, but either way I can’t help but feel a sense of pride whenever I hear people say they have or are planning to read the book.

  • 1poeticsoul says:

    I fully agree with you. As a former English teacher, I saw firsthand many students trying to “shortcut” their way to literary criticism by attempting to pass off “movie reviews” as book reports.

  • Eragon was a fantastic book, the movie was so terrible I wanted to cry. I hope the movie for Guardians of Gahoole isn’t bad, sadly I haven’t finished reading the whole series.

  • lrorschach says:

    An excellent post! I absolutely agree with you and with most of the above comments. Making books into movies really removes so much from the story. It removes the imagination required to bring a story to life. I have a rule for myself: do NOT watch the movie until I have read the book. I would like to propose that all filmmakers follow the same rule: do not make a movie until you have read the book. This may seem a bit ridiculous (because I’m sure they all do actually read), but sometimes I am left to wonder. Example: the 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice. It was just ghastly.

    One adaptation I think was really spectacular was Watchmen. Yeah, they had to cut some bits out and needed to change up the ending to make it fit (there are always sacrifices to be made, e.g. Peeves in HP), but the actually making of the movie was perfect. The casting directors picked the absolute best actors to portray the characters. The costumes and sets brought the novel vividly to life. Every shot from every scene was taken directly from a panel of the graphic novel. Even though they had a foot up, because most books don’t come fully illustrated, the movie people (directors, screenwriters, cinematographers, etc) really paid attention to how the story was told and meant to be taken in by the reader, and they figured out how to best translate the power of the book onto the silver screen.

    Please forgive the rant, but my point is: because I actually read Watchmen, my appreciation of the film was exponentially greater than that of the friend (who hadn’t read it) I went to go see it with. If more people read the books that these movies were based off of, I would think that the general public wouldn’t put up with so many bad films being made. And, dare I dream, neither would the filmmakers.

  • daitexas says:

    Great blog, and congrats on being freshly pressed!

    There is a similar argument on the other side of the movie/book divide. A lot of new, original ideas aren’t given a chance to make it to the big screen because studios are choosing “safer” options – such as adapting books – because they already have an established fan base, and thus a “built-in audience” for the movie or TV show once it is released.

    I agree wholeheartedly with you that the movie is never (or at least increasingly rarely) as good as the book simply because screenwriters, directors, producers and studio execs fail to understand that a feature film is a different medium to a novel and thus requires a different approach. This is a subject I ranted on at length in my blog “Why The Harry Potter Films Suck” https://daitexas.wordpress.com/2011/09/06/why-the-harry-potter-films-suck/ if you’re interested 😉

  • This is one of the most overly-discussed topics in WP. I’ve even seen it come up in Freshly Pressed before.

    Books aren’t movies. Movies aren’t books. Adaptations will require change because a movie is designed like a meal, for consumption at one sitting, courses served in a specific order. Books are a box of assorted sweets. You don’t ordinarily eat the whole box at once, and you can consume in any order you like, or pick and choose different parts to savor. It’s pointless to compare the two on the basis of being more/less like one another. They make movies based on books because films need stories and characters as ingredients, and books have them. The two art forms owe little to each other, nor to audiences of either, except the responsibility to stand on their own well.

    If you don’t learn to appreciate both films AND books on their own terms, separately, your education and experience in the arts is limited.

    • EDF says:

      So well said! Book readers sound like snobs and make movie-goers out to be illiterates. We should ask not if one is better than the other but if they stay true to each other’s values, messages, and themes. Thanks for your insights that add even-handed reason!

      • R. H. Culp says:

        I certainly don’t mean to sound like a snob. As the blog post’s title suggests, my issue isn’t with the quality of movies base on books, it’s on the supremacy of movies to books. Literacy is linked to everything from crime rates to empathy and our society is doing little to increase a love for reading.

        • EDF says:

          Your point is well given and well taken. You have surely aroused a lively debate. I would say, though, that this post and the ample response to it are terrific examples of people’s love for reading. Congrats on that and congrats on being freshly pressed.

    • R. H. Culp says:

      Don’t get me wrong. I love movies, and there are plenty of movies based on books that I think are not just entertaining, but also faithful adaptations. My objection is to the adaptation of books in general to movies and the way the subject is viewed both inside and outside of the publishing industry. As a society we bemoan the decline of the writer word and the literacy of our youth, all while elevating film above the written word. We encourage authors to strive for that movie deal, rather than encouraging kids to go pick up a book.

  • Julie says:

    There are a handful of movies that I actually prefer to the books on which they are based. Three that come immediately to mind are Flambards, Gone with the Wind and Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South.

    But I do beg to differ that movies don’t encourage people to visit the books. Granted, there will always be people who don’t read, but for people who do, then movies are not necessarily the worst way to introduce someone to a new author or a new book.

    I might never have read the delightful “Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day” if it hadn’t been for the movie. And, while I had been exposed to Jane Austen in my childhood, I’d forgotten about everything but Pride and Prejudice over the years, and don’t know when I’d have read Persuasion or Sense and Sensibility if it hadn’t been for the two outstanding movies that were released in 1995.

    You may not like movies based on books, but not everyone out there shares your opinion.

  • Amber says:

    I think movies and books attract different types of people. Some will watch the movie and think, “I want more, where is the book?” Others will hear about the movie and think, “If it’s a book, I’m reading it first.” Still more people will decide one-medium-or-the-other-works-for-me.

    I fall into each of these categories at times, depending on many factors. Some factors are obvious – “How compelling are the characters/plot?” But others are completely circumstantial; for instance, if friends invite me to a book-adaptation on a Sunday afternoon I’m not going to snub them over it.

    I often tell people that I’m a storyteller rather than saying that I’m a writer. If some day one of my stories appeals to large audiences (fingers crossed!), I would want them to access it in whatever way would make them happiest. For me, the connection is key.

    As for kids and reading, yes that is a concern of mine. But I think that the best way to instill a love for reading in your child is to teach her/him early how incredible the experience can be — movies will never let your mind illustrate its own worlds the way that books do. It saddens me to think that some kids might never experience that level of imaginative freedom.

  • halaseym says:

    I agree with what you are saying. I think that people rely on movies way too much. I have had to explain Harry Potter to so many people that now I get to the point where I simply tell them to go read the book. Most of the time I get the excuse, “I don’t have time to read.” or “I don’t like to read.” Guess what? Make time to read or just deal with the fact that there are going to be holes in the story when you don’t read the book. When I have kids I am going to read to them every night in the hopes that they will one day prefer books to movies.

  • ocularity says:

    It seems to me that it is mostly dumb luck when the same story lends itself well to both written and film media. Of course, oftentimes that luck is worked by the wrong hands into something abominable…

  • rebeccaballou says:

    I SO KNOW WHAT YOU MEAN!!! i’m totally on your side… i just about yelled at the tv screen when i saw they were making ‘the Hunger Games’ into a movie… those books are to good for a big screen to do them justice!

    • R. H. Culp says:

      I totally agree. They’ve got an amazing cast, and the images from the set so far look great, but what it comes down to is that they won’t be able to replicate the amazing tension between Katniss, Peeta, and Gale.

  • ditchthebun says:

    They completely destroyed Eragon, it just made me sad! So much character development was just deleted in favor of a big fight scene, some characters were deleted completely.
    Have you seen the travesty that is the movie rendition of Sahara? complete CHUNKS of the story are just not there, the should have just changed the characters names and the title of the movie and most people wouldn’t have even connected it to the book… what on earth was that?!
    Miniseries are generally the same (although because they are not on the time limit of a movie, they generally seem to get a little more of the book across). Recently I came across the series Game of Thrones, I saw an episode before realising it was based on a book, before watching anymore I read the books and was pleasantly surprised at the effort they seem to be making to keep true to the book – mostly. I think it must have something to do with the contracts authors sign regarding how much creative license the movie writers have.

    • R. H. Culp says:

      There were so many things I hated about Eragon. For example, the way they showed Saphira growing: flying through a cloud and magically being a full sized dragon. At first I thought they were going for a metaphor, but no, it was just terrible storytelling. And the way the Urgals are just stocky, bearded men instead of a different race. Such a bald-faced, money grab. Blech.

      • ditchthebun says:

        I haven’t read the book or watched the movie in a long time, but from memory wasn’t most of the last quarter just ignored apart from the battle. I seem to remember thinking, “uhh the dwarves were a massive part of the storyline, they just aren’t even really acknowledged”. Am I remembering wrong?

  • Janis says:

    It’s hard to reconcile one’s vision of the book with that of the movie writer/director/creator’s interpretation of the story. Not that I’m a big reader, but I have my few favorite titles that eventually made it to the big screen. Sometimes, the only reason I watch the movie is to see if the writer executed the book the way I pictured it in my head. More often than not, I end up getting disappointed. There might be a lot of people who would disagree but I’m sure there will also be a few to second my motion that so far, the biggest let down is the Dan Brown series. I love Tom Hanks but I really couldn’t wrap my head around his being Robert Langdon.

  • silverash says:

    I completely agree with your blog… and in fact this recent knowledge about Roald Dahl’s BFG being made into a movie has really put the gloom mode on me… He is my favorite author and THAT book is exceptional! Moreover, the movies lose the not only the feel but also much of the story… as I experienced in many cases: Jurassic Park, The Bourne Identity, Matilda..

  • mooselicker says:

    At least that hack Tim Burton isn’t behind this…

  • krektlick says:

    I agree. Movies ruin every book because they leave so much out. They just can’t quite capture the magic that books give.

    And I did not know that the BFG was being made into a movie….that is extremely upsetting. It’s similar to the feeling I got after I was told the Lightning Theif was being made into a movie.

  • Grace Shelly says:

    I’m a reader, and I’ve never heard of BFG. I think that if releasing a movie exposes me to a new story, then it’s a positive thing. I would love it if more classics were released on film, because I would never have read any Jane Austen if I hadn’t seen Pride and Prejudice

    • R. H. Culp says:

      I think that’s a very valid point, but I also think (and this may or may not be true) that the people who are drawn to read the books after are people who already read. I don’t think that (very often) they draw new readers to the books and even help excuse them from reading them because they already think they know the story.

  • ipegasus says:

    Hmm…I know a lot of people who go and find the book and read it, because they enjoyed the movie. However I also know people who don’t bother to ever read the book because they’ve seen the movie…
    A lot of people who are interested in the movie read the book first so that they’ll ‘know what’s going on’.

    It’s quite a status thing isn’t it? Having a book made into a movie? It’s kind of saying something about the book’s popularity and mass appeal etc. but a lot of it is just – stories from books can make really good movies.

  • Oh no. I had no idea that filmmakers were even going to go near Roald Dahl’s The BFG. This is terrible news. I know you mentioned how certain movie adaptations of great novels turn out to be sour messes, but I have to note that there are some novels out there that should never, EVER be made into movies. Ever. Like…Jules Verne’s science fiction novels? Or Roald Dahl’s novels for children? Both authors created classics in literature, but I know for sure that the books deserve more than pathetic film versions. I mean, there is no way that a film of Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator will ever capture the sarcasm of Dahl’s poems about the American government or those Vermicious Knids. Also, all the Sherlock Holmes novels and stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle are brilliant (in my opinion), but all the TV shows and films based on them are horrible. I literally cringe when I see any actor hopelessly trying to portray Sherlock Holmes in the flesh. Sometimes fictional characters are better left alone in the books they are born in. So you are right. Films can destroy the images and people that novels bring to life.

    On the other hand, I assert that movies are good for 2 things. The first, a fact I have personally experienced, is that it is very difficult to imagine landscapes and scenery that is described in novels. I usually look to a movie to help me out with that. The 2nd is, ironically, the characters. You can call me a weak artist, but I do have a hard time putting a character’s list of physical attributes into a vague imagined avatar. Sometimes…not all the time, but sometimes the actors and actresses filmmakers pick to play characters in film adaptations of books are very worthy of the role. However, this doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t keep trying to form my own idea of what the characters look like. Imagination is a powerful thing, but like with all other skills, practice makes perfect. Movies are merely an easier method to be entertained, for as I said in my latest blog post, books require more effort mentally. And no, even a good movie can never replace the inner thoughts, feelings, and motives of a character about to act or make a decision. You can hope and dream, but movies will always be second to books. No matter how much a film trilogy like The Lord of the Rings may promote Tolkien’s masterpiece, the books will always be better, although harder to digest. 😀 The same goes for The Chronicles of Narnia and the other major works of fiction that got a larger audience due to the cinema.

    Anyway, I apologize for my long comment, but I enjoyed reading your blog entry and you did mention one of my favorite books (The BFG). 🙂 Good luck with all your writing!

  • I have completely mixed feelings on movie-adaptations.

    As a child, my parents wouldn’t let me see a movie that was adapted from a book until I had read the book (provided it was in my reading level – I got to watch the Bourne trilogy without reading those books first in middle school). So if I saw a preview for a movie that looked good and found out that it was originally a book, I would read the book first. This habit has continued into my adult life for the most part and because of this, I have read some excellent books or discovered fantastic authors I never would have.

    Unfortunately, most children don’t have my parents or my inherent love of reading, so they didn’t get this benefit.

    Also, the BFG was my favorite Roald Dahl book as a child! I can’t even lie, I’m pretty excited about this now.

  • EDF says:

    I seem to be in the minority but I enjoy a GOOD movie based on a book. I try not to ask (too much) was the book or movie better than the other but were the values and themes congruent and retained between the two. It’s too easy to get into a “better than” or “worse than” debate. I prefer a values based one. For example, the movie Seabiscuit drove me to read the book by the same name by Laura Hillenbrand. An excellent book…and the movie favorably retained Hillenbrand’s themes and messages. The movie Invictus lead me to read Playing the Enemy to get a better back story on Mandela’s life in prison and rise to the presidency. In each case, I went to the book to learn more than the movie could ever tell me in two hours time. In this way, I love how a movie can spark my curiosity and get to READ!

  • cmxstevenson says:

    In my personal experience, I might never have begun to read for fun were it not for the movie adaptation of Jurassic Park.

  • davedevine says:

    Can anyone compare the film to the book of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin?

  • I majored in English, so obviously I’m a fan of reading. However, some otherwise intelligent people just don’t have the kind of personality that will allow them to sit and read. It’s taken me a long time, but I accept that that’s the way they are. Reading just doesn’t fit certain people’s style of “busy.” That’s why, I think, some book adaptations allow great stories to be told to these types of people who would otherwise totally miss out on literature. While many books don’t lend themselves to adaptation, short stories are ideal. Some of the best movies, such as The Innocents and High Noon, come from short stories and novellas.

    Also, an Ender’s Game movie would surely be a disaster, but it might work as a miniseries.

    • R. H. Culp says:

      The biggest challenge Ender’s Game would face is how many child actors it would have to cast. I can’t think of a movie ever pulling off serious content with so many child actors.
      As for people being of different temperaments, I think there is definitely truth to that, but I think that is due in part to the fact that we don’t encourage reading enough at a young age so kids don’t develop the necessary skills.

  • lochgarry says:

    Great post! Book reading is becoming a lost art. Movies do not cause a thirst for books. The thirst for books has to be instilled in childhood by parents. Reading to a child at bedtime builds a foundation for a future reader. A movie can never replace the book on which it is based. Perhaps this lack of reading is one of the reasons so many entering college students have deficiencies in reading and writing skills.

  • metan says:

    Totally with you! Books to movies just depress me, they so rarely work. I think the studios are just lazy and assume that they have a ready-made fan base with a book. They don’t have to put so much effort into selling the idea as we already love the story and characters. Then they kill it….The things that make us love a book are things that can never be translated into film.
    Just look at Where The Wild Things Are. A great kids book, but a movie? Geez, they had to make up most of the story to stretch it out that far!
    Congrats on being FP.


    • R. H. Culp says:

      Several people have raised the point that books and films are just two different mediums and movies should be viewed as independent of the books. As I said in the blog (and several of my replies) my objection is more to the pedestal the “movie deal” is put on, but you also raise a good point: even from an unbiased perspective, a huge percentage of the movies based on books are terrible. Eragon comes to mind first as a movie that reeks of having been made just to milk an existing fan base. I think this is offensive should be offensive to anyone who has ever loved a brand, or world, or character whether it was in a book, movie, or video game. It makes me feel taken advantage of.

  • eeburrah says:

    some people simply just don’t want to invest the amount of time it takes to read a book. where a movie can take 2-3 hours to tell a story, a book can take easily twice longer. i also don’t feel that books are better than movies–they’re different mediums. it’s true that there are other benefits in reading that watching a movie can’t provide, if you’re simply looking at it based on the quality of the story, it’s always going to be a matter of opinion and always biased towards the one with which the person is more familiar.

    • R. H. Culp says:

      I totally agree that they are different mediums and each has its strengths and weaknesses (in fact, when I’m not writing I work as a video producer in Spokane, WA), but I do think that books can tell a deeper, more emotional story than movies can (not that they always do), largely because it does take that extra time investment. My bigger concern is that, like you said, there are benefits to reading that watching movies doesn’t provide, and as a society we make it easy for people not to read.

  • Alex says:

    I saw Eragon and thought it was OK. Now I’m reading the book I realise how truly awful the movie was.

  • There are bad movies made from good books, and good movies made from bad books. But in Harry Potter and others, the best situation is that the book gives you the in-depth characterization that you expect from a book, and the movie gives you the entertainment and thrills you expect from a movie.

  • Eunice ; ♥ says:

    I do think that these book *adaptations* adopts too little detail from the book, but rather is using the popularity and base storyline of the title to gain recognition.

    One example would be HP, details that we so eagerly relish from the book, the details that keeps us entertained, are brutally ignored and removed when they show it on the big screen.

    It’s really sad, but at the same time, I can’t help but be filled with hope whenever a such movies (adapted from a good book) show. Hoping that it would retain what I really liked about the book, because what I love about the book is far from it’s title and base storyline.

  • Hafsa K says:

    I totally agree with you on this point. Every time I watch a movie based on a book I have read, during the whole movie, I am like ‘hey, where’s the part where..’ ‘No, it’s not supposed to be like this..’ and it goes on. I get so pissed off at all the important[and unimportant] missing details.
    And no, they do not encourage the people to read the books. It only encourages them to stay away from books even more. Why read when they can watch?
    Wonderful post! Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed! :)’

  • TayMik23 says:

    I’m with you- Ender’s Game would NOT work.
    Admittedly, some adaptations are not up to par (Eragon’s a good example), but some can actually really help the book, in my opinion. I was happy with what Harry Potter and even the first two Narnia movies did for those franchises. Yes, people should read the books, but films aren’t all bad. It depends on who’s behind it.

  • chunter says:

    Take this with an appropriate grain of salt, because I see about two movies per year and dislike reading fiction.

    The reason I read this post (besides being on F.P., congratulations, of course) is that you may have assisted me in explaining just why I dislike reading fiction when I have always had this sort of pull towards the introverted science fiction types that eventually are aghast that I don’t read fiction or see a lot of movies, besides simply not liking them as activities.

    With the present and newer generations’ overexposure to movies and television, and soon, videogames, has writing itself become poorer as characters must become more and more shallow, plots more predictable, lessons more hollow, all important to scoring the kind of mass appeal that lands a film deal?

    • R. H. Culp says:

      Writing has certainly evolved and there are a lot of bad books out there. But there have always been bad books with shallow characters and predictable plots; it’s just easier to see only the good ones in hindsight. We remember the Pride and Prejudices and Great Expectations and forget the flops. I do not think that there is any shortage of good material to read on the market, it’s just a matter of wading through the bad to find it, and I would argue that that has become easier with the advent of the internet and online reviews.

      • chunter says:

        Sorry I didn’t reply sooner: it is refreshing to hear someone say the internet makes it easier to find good work! I encounter so much pessimism (among musicians) on this subject that I don’t think enough people stop to notice how much more quickly a hit can become a hit.

        • R. H. Culp says:

          Absolutely. And with sites like Amazon and Goodreads (for books) you can access thousands of reviews in an instant. The internet helps me spend less time reading poor writing and it allows the good stuff to garner more attention. And no need to apologize for the wait before the reply.

  • Even films based on famous stories do this… they “freeze” one way of looking at things that makes telling the story in a new and fresh way impossible. Snow White. It was a great movie of course, but from then on, there were always going to be 7 dwarfs, with whatever names the film-maker chose to give them. Any other version is “wrong”.
    So, for movies made on books, the reason I don’t like them, is because no matter how I try, I cannot imagine the hero looking anything else than the actor in the movie. My own imagination is ruined. Wrong. You can only resist so much. Visuals are more powerful than books. I mean, no matter how hard you try to avoid them, you cannot. I defy anybody to imagine Harry Potter looking different than in the movies. The power of books is like that of dreams. You kind of know what the hero looks like, but you won’t paint a picture of him because the moment you do, he’s gone… No ambiguity means death.

  • mjmarti11 says:

    I’ve seen a few movies based on books I’ve read and I can easily say that after watching the movie, I’ve been very disappointed. So yes, I do think it’s a problem because most movies don’t do a book justice. And I do think we should encourage kids to read more. It opens up their minds a whole different world only they can see. 🙂

  • A. S. Ellis says:

    R. H. Culp, this is spot on. Few movies ever come close to the experience of a book, whether the book is a classic or an obscure failure. I have no objections to video as a medium, but there is something about how a book still leaves enough to the imagination that two things result: on the one hand, readers may have a more unique experience, and consequently provide a great spectrum of perspective; and secondly, because a book leaves so much to the imagination, the human mind still has to put some effort into processing the information – something I feel is entirely lacking in a movie.

    Excellent post, again. And congrats on Freshly Pressed.

  • pax says:

    I totally agree with you. I’m a John Grisham fan and it always break my heart (and mind) when his novels are adapted into movies. Details are changed and for me, its a distortion of his perfect work. Further, Dan Brown’s two novels are far, far better than that of its silver screen versions. It’s certainly disgusting when you talk to people who haven’t read it but watched the film coz you wont meet half way. Lastly, poor C.S. Lewis; his Narnia is turn into palatable garbage. (Apology for my harsh words.)

  • Mendaxxx says:

    The thing is, almost every story has characters that are very difficult to forge into real life humans who are paid to act them out. Millions of people may read the same book, and because they are brought up differently and come from different backgrounds, they must have very different images of each character in their mind. They can also perceive an event in the story with different connotations.

    I am generally against movies and TV- I find them insulting to our intelligence. If a kid in 2011 has jelly in their cranium, instead of pia mater and neurons, I would like to blame it on the TV. Even the news is biased these days and often very foolishly presented to the viewers- the propaganda gapes out of the TV vulgarly and plainly.

  • Haha, Eragon was SO aweful!!! It was the first time I sat in the theater thinking, why am I sitting here wasting my time? Now, I love movies and I love books. But I have to agree with you because so many good books have been horribly portrayed in films. I hate when people base their oppinions of books on their movies. I also am not sure I agree with SO many new movies coming out based on books. Seriously, quit stealing ideas from the authors and write your own original script! Any other thoughts on this?

  • Abigail says:

    Pretty much pegged it. No move adaptation is good enough for the book. However, there is one book to movie (Atlas Shrugged) that I saw at the movies, fell in love with, and read the book so I didn’t have to wait three years to find out the ending. 🙂 And I’ll be happy to sit down and watch that movie again because it lets me revisit that world for two hours, without the month long commitment that the book took me. (Not to mention I got so obsessed that my family banned me from that book for a while.)

  • klynneb says:

    I don’t know that I completely agree. I refused to read Harry Potter (for reasons I can’t recall, but I must have been slightly insane) until the movies came out, and my dad gave me an ultimatum: read the books or you don’t get to see the move. Since the movie looked so cool, I read the first book. Then proceeded to devour the next books in the series, and demand the one that wasn’t out at the time.

    My family instilled a love of reading in me from day one though. My mom sat down with me and read all the time, my family is filled with readers, so maybe I’m a unique case. I don’t know the statistics, but it always seems to me that after a movie, and before, the book always gets more popular. I can’t say I haven’t talked to people who said they don’t read the book, but only wait for the movie. Those people are weird.

    I would like to say that I only know of one movie where my mom discouraged me from reading the book, Forest Gump. Every other time the book is completely superior to the movie (though the Hobbit was a hard read in fourth grade after I finally got over my fear of Gollum).

  • I always had an active imagination. I had to for survival. When I read, I imagine the characters looking a certain way and acting the way my mind told me it should. So, I am usually more than disappointed in a movie based on a book. I am such a stickler on the topic that I rarely watch movies anymore. I would rather read and get into my own head. Since I wrote my own memoir, I could no longer read because of the business of promoting a book. ( not easy even if you have a publisher) I am back to reading again and plan to do the Harry Potter books first. There has to be a reason for their popularity. I used to love going to the movies. But that was a long time ago. I am going to read for pleasure again and it will be soo good that I: am sad for people who don’t read. They are missing out. A movie will never live up to your own imagination when you’ve read the book. For example, I devoured Gone with the Wind at 12 and walked out of the movie. And that was supposed to be a good movie. The book was just too good. Reading is a cool compress for my tired head

  • msperfectpatty says:

    I agre with your point of view, when the first Harry Potter movie came out I wanted to see it yes but I was disappointed because the images I had in my head while reading were not the same as what was showing on the screen. Talk about disappointed. There were scenes missing, and details cut. I hate to see a book turned into a movie with half of the story untold. What a waste of time. If you’re gonna go for it, do it fullout!

  • I cant agree more and you put it across so well. Bravo.

  • legitmind says:

    I think that a lot movies that are based on books do not do the book any justice, however, Harry Potter has been fairly accurate, in my opinion. Adaptaions of books such as Bridge to Terabithia, are completely awful, which makes me sad to know that the film business would give false ideas to young people who have never read the book.

  • Mormon Soprano says:

    In a word, “AMEN”!

  • Tracy says:

    I have to agree with you. Ever since I was a kid and saw my first movie that had been a “favorite” book of mine; I have pretty much found the adaption process to take the magic and crush it! Thanks for sharing–there are probably many of us out here who agree.

  • Christopher Lampton says:

    The best movie adaptations come from books that are almost good but need help to work. The Godfather was a mediocre book, but Francis Ford Coppola’s screen adaptation, despite being incredibly faithful (and scripted by the book’s author), was much, much better. The same is true of The Firm, which as a book bordered on being downright bad but in Sidney Pollack’s hands made a refreshingly crisp Hitchcockian chase thriller. And Stand by Me was better than Stephen King’s just-okay novella “The Body.” Roughly speaking, the better the book, the more disappointing the film adaptation will be, at least to people who have read the book. But bad books can adapt well.

  • Dinny Rex says:

    For me, I drive my family crazy because I make it known that I want to watch the movie, but I will refuse to watch it until I have read the book.

    And I know many may disagree with me, but I think The Lord of the Rings is better as movie. The book goes way WAY too slowly; everything is dragged out longer than it needs to be.

  • I agree that there are some things that a book can convey that a movie just can’t get across. However, I think that quite often an image can bring forth emotion that words simply can’t. I think this mostly has to do with the quality of the movie, or the quality of the book. A well-written book needs no image to accompany it to get the point across.
    Nowadays, most book-movies are so off-base that they don’t even resemble the book anymore (Don’t even get me started on Percy Jackson). However, I have found that when the movie makers stick to the actual book, the outcome is fairly pleasant. For example, one of my favorite books, Flipped, was made into a movie last year and it so closely resembled the book that I loved every minute of it. So I suppose it can go both ways.
    Even as part of today’s movie-obsessed youth, I find that I lose interest in reading the book after I have seen the movie. The magic of the book is simply lost when one already knows the ending. I definitely think we should encourage kids to read more, because I know the benefits it has brought me in life. Falling in love with reading is probably one of the best things to ever happen to me. While a movie will last two hours, a book can last a lifetime.

    • R. H. Culp says:

      That’s interesting. I find that I’m the exact opposite. I find myself far more engaged and plot and characters in books than I am in movies, both because I usually spend more time with them, and because of the way you can communicate a character’s thoughts in words in a way that’s impossible on screen (without monologues or asides).

  • Definitely agree with you on this! There is simply no possible way a movie can be made based upon a book that will be close enough- there’s too much that the reader’s mind creates when they read that no movie can reproduce. And how would a movie be able to recreate that through the eyes of thousands of viewers/readers? It’s impossible. Granted they can be close- I must say the Harry Potter movies really aren’t all that bad, but still, they’re nothing like the books. I tweak when the movies miss certain parts that I feel would be important. Some movies were just horrible. Eragon? Didn’t even make it past the first 20 minutes. The Golden Compass I hung on for as long as I could, it was a series I really enjoyed growing up and was curious how the movie was going to play out. Cut out key scenes and then end the movie 75 pages or more before the book ends? You’ve got to be kidding me. Where The Wild Things are had me running home to reopen my favorite children’s book to remind myself how much I loved it and why. No movie can replicate what a person forms in their head when reading a book. It’s an exercise of the mind. People say they don’t have time for books- they lie. They just don’t want to make time, and would rather take the lazy, unimaginative way out and see how someone else perceives it. Which to me, is quite sad. I feel like both children and adults need to open books more and see the light- turn the TV off, turn the video games off, and read. It’s said how many children aren’t exercising enough- are they exercising their minds enough as well? Are adults exercising their minds enough? Come on people, open up some books and READ!

    I’m right there with you! Congrats on Freshly Pressed!

    • Tony says:

      I agree with you to a certain extent however, there are a few points that I don’t quite agree with. Some movies adapted from literature are poorly done, but not all. I believe that people need to turn off the television and read more as well, but I don’t believe that movies adapted from literature stops them from doing so. People don’t limit themselves to either books or movies. If anything, movies adapted from literature encourages people to read the book that inspired the extension and interpretation of the work of art.
      Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, The Help, and War Horse, are just a few movie adaptations of books that were very successful in emulating characters onto the screen and bringing literature to life, literally. Movie adaptations will never please everyone. I agree with the point you presented that there’s too much that the reader’s mind creates when they read that no movie can reproduce, however I think that is the beauty of movies. It’s the screen writer’s and director’s interpretation. If movies directly portrayed the book it would be far too long and cost far too much money. I agree that there are some definite movie adaptation flops, but I wouldn’t discredit all movie adaptations, because some are very beautiful works of art.
      In High School I do admit that I would turn to movie adaptations for assigned book reports as an “easy” way out. I soon learned that watching the movies wouldn’t give me the amount of information I needed; a long story short, I failed the book report. After failure, I learned that movies don’t try to replace books, but provide a single interpretation of them. In fourth grade I read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, the movie then came out later that year. The movie left out a ton of details and didn’t portray the characters, the set, or even the objects the way I had in my head reading the book. This was okay with me, because it was someone else’s well thought out and well executed interpretation of the book. Now, if it wasn’t a well thought out, and well executed interpretation of the piece of literature I would probably consider it a flop, like Eragon.
      In conclusion, Movies are works of art, and give us a physical picture that we can either appreciate or not. Movies are in their own category. They aren’t books that have been melted down, that feed the material to lazy people through silver screens, but an art form in itself.

  • Nikita Basara says:

    On a lot of days, I agree with your argument a lot. But then, I’ve read tons of books just because I heard there was a movie being made of it or because I saw the movie and then found out it was a book. The movie, in my mind, is just an homage to a piece of work that took time and blood to write, it’s a way to honor the author and allow their story to take on a new format. And in a lot of ways, the story IS reinvented (hence why it’s never the same as the book) but that means that a group of movie-makers loved the original story so much that they wanted in on the creative process too. I can watch it and kill two hours of my life, and then read the book and have it take up a whole week of my life. I would have never thought about reading Bret Easton Ellis if I hadn’t stumbled upon a few movies that were based on his books. Same goes for Harry Potter when I was little and a bunch of other books. And I got a lot of my friends to check out certain books by making them watch the movie first. I see the movie adaptations as a taste of the entire volume, and I think it’s endearing. Plus the visual and auditory aspects of film add a whole new (albeit subjective) dimension to the story. So, don’t fret 🙂 a lot of us actually do pick up the book once we hear a movie’s coming out.

    • R. H. Culp says:

      I totally agree with a lot of what you said. Many times movies are adapted from books because of a genuine love for the story, but I think that just as often they are adapted to tap into an existing fan base and they treat the story like a cash cow. I also agree that the movie option is flattering for any author, and it’s a matter of perspective and priorities whether or not they are thrilled with it. If the goal is to have your story experienced by as many people as possible than a movie can be awesome (if it’s a faithful adaptation). On the other hand, if your goal is to have your story read and to drive more people to reading, then I don’t know if the movie deal serves the author best. Though I really don’t know.

  • anotherdaysucks says:

    I am movie lover, but I still read books. About Harry Porter, I think kids can more addicted to the books than the movies. I saw many kids staying hours reading Harry Porter collection. Honestly, I don’t wish my kids (if I have) to read Harry Porter for long periods. I wish they explore other type of Literatures.

    • lavidaesta says:

      Why wouldn’t you want to have your kids read Harry Potter? It’s a great start for a love of literature, and once they explore how great a book can be, they would only want to read more after finishing the great seven HP-books.

  • hong says:

    I’m glad to know there are people out there loving books still. I do get excited when my favourite books make it to the big screen, but I always get disappointed. It’s the power of the written word that can never be replaced by simply watching. It’s the power of the human mind to imagine too, I believe. I love imaging what my favourite characters look like, sound like; how the whole setting of the home/place is like; how gorgeous the scenic descriptions are; all these just can’t be replicated by visual means!

    I think the problem is with commercialisation – people just want to make money fast without thinking of the effects/implications on society. On the other hand there is also the demand for it – people want to know the story fast. What’s the point of spending hours flipping through Harry Potter/LOTR when you can get it done in 2-3 hours? But the best part of a book is not just the plot (though arguably sometimes even the plot is so distorted!!), it’s everything else that makes the plot. Otherwise one could simply turn to summaries and synopsis.

    Anyway, hope you’ll continue helping more kids to learn to read and get to know the joys of reading. The world needs more real readers.

  • Pamanner says:

    I concur. Two different genres. Two different interpretations. At the very least, read the book first! Then, you can be disappointed as I usually am because the movie failed to bring MY favorite book’s world to life the way I envisioned it.

  • harmamae says:

    Hmmm, I have certainly met people who’ve only seen the movies and not read the books, but most of the people I hang out with got into Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter because of the movies. Both of these I read before seeing, but no one else was interesting in reading them until the movie came out! So I was happy about that.

    All the same, I find if I watch a movie first and then read the book, I, personally, can’t get into the book as well. For example, I didn’t really like the book ‘Timeline’ after watching the movie! And the same with ‘Stardust.”

  • Solo says:

    Great post R.H. Culp and I look forward to having a look round the rest of your blog. I think I have to partially disagree here though. People will wait for/favour the film for a book they don’t actually want to read- particulalrly set texts for school- but they wouldn’t read the book anyway of there were no film. Persoanlly I really enjoy comparing adaptations and if I see a film I like, or at least find interest in, I will always track down the book.

    Obviously, most of the time there is more to the book, but there are occasions where the film does something quite different and you can enjoy both equally side by side [Say ‘Fried Green Tomatoes’ or ‘Practical Magic’] there are even rare occasions where the film is actually better than the source material [Trainspotting]. The only time I’ve refused to see an adaptation because I thought it would ruin the book for me was ‘The Ruby In The Smoke’- I just felt Billie Piper was so wrong for the role that I didn’t even want to watch!

    This post caught my attention because I have been working on a post of my own about adaptations of beloved childhood fiction specifically. The desecration of Disney for a start. To keep it broadly topical the main focus will be on Fantastic Mr. Fox, Where The Wild Things Are and probably The Hobbit. Incidentally- the BFG has already been made into a film, when I was a wee toddler: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0096866/

    • R. H. Culp says:

      Thanks Solo, and I hope you enjoy the rest of the sight. I think that in many cases you are right, children won’t necessarily find a book just because a movie isn’t made of it, but in some circumstances I’m convinced movies do shortchange books. For example, I can’t count how many times in English classes when I was in school, other students would say that they hadn’t had time to read the book so they just watched the movie. Or when the Harry Potter craze was just getting fired up, everyone was talking about the books, but then the movie came along and the conversation shifted. I look at that as a missed opportunity for kids to dive in and enjoy a really great novel, without feeling like they have to view it through the lens of the movie. They can enjoy the book on it’s own merit. Just a thought. I really would be fascinated to see statistics for what happens to books sales when movies are released and what kinds of people are driven to bookstores and libraries.

  • alygerharter says:

    while i definitely agree that movies never do the books justice, there is something to be said about seeing what you’ve read coming to life up on the big screen.

  • JeanJean says:

    I’m not against movies based on a novel –it’s a compliment to the author.

    But I’d rather have children and adults read the book first, then watch movie to critique it.

    As for myself, I don’t even have a tv right now. And dont’ plan to get one.
    I haven’t gone to movie theatre in over a decade. It’s a cost thing..

  • Jess says:

    I completely agree with you! I often like to read the book and then watch the movie but most of the time it never actually lives up to the book. I’m always constantly pointing out something that’s wrong or something didn’t happen in the book. lol No matter how many movies they make (or remake), in my opinion, books will always be better. 🙂

  • Kale says:

    I’ve thought that big-screen adaptations bring people to books. I mean, I probably wouldn’t read Harry Potter if the movies didn’t come. People in my place only heard about it because of the movies and that’s how we got to the books.

  • I’m glad to see that I’m not the only one that agrees. I don’t even bother watching films adapted from books anymore because it ruins the character ideal I had in mind while reading the story and using my imagination, which I think is a great benefit to reading. With movies, they leave out so much to ‘save time’ and future generations are suffering with illiteracy and some children get in trouble for re-enacting what they see in certain films these days (fighting, peeing in the sink). I love to read by the way!

  • wadingacross says:

    I guess it all depends upon the story and my knowledge of it as well as interest in it.

    I’ve watched most of the Harry Potter flicks but only read the first book. I never had any interest in reading the rest of the series. The movies therefore are fine for me.

    That said, I do know what you’re talking about, watching a movie based on a book you’ve read. You catch all of the inconsistencies and it can be a bit maddening. I realize that often the studios do it because of time constraints.

    These days however, I find that I read more non-fiction and rarely go to the movies or watch recent movies on video, so I guess I’ve not got as much ire with which to work.

  • iwritemyownstory says:

    I totally agree with you. People who don’t read don’t understand how we feel about movies that are adapted from great books. Some movies (say Harry Potter) turned out great but the books are hundred times better and it breaks my heart when people are satisfied with just the movie without even wanting to read the book.

  • whitetrick says:

    I agree. I was raised to read and was read to as a child and often. My mother would make me read books that were above my grade and by the time I was in the 4th grade, I had a high school reading level. Part of the problem is that parents are constantly sitting kids in front of the television and not taking the time to read to their kids. Kids learn from their parents, plain and simple. It’s also laziness of mind, not wanting to take the time to figure out or even use your imagination. Often at work, I am horrified that people don’t know what a lot of complicated words mean and using words like ‘littler’ and ‘bestest’. Those words are wrong and don’t even exist in the English language, they are ignorant and sound ignorant. By reading we increase our vocabulary and it doesn’t help that when someone watches television, people who are of influence (and we’re aren’t talking about politicians who go to Ivy League schools, I’m talking rock stars, movie stars, etc.) are using these words.

    So in a nutshell…read a book for the love of God.

  • The Mommy Lane says:

    I am addicted to the written word and completely understand your frustration. I agree that Eragon was a travesty!! I also have to say that I’m torn on my overall feel about movie adaptations from books. For example, the Twilight series. I saw the first movie about two years after it came out. I didn’t like it. Friends and random people alike continued to rave about how great the series was. I just didn’t get it, but all of the hype “forced” me to read the books and I was hooked. I have read Breaking Dawn four times and I can’t wait to see the movie. As for Twilight, reading the book gave me a new appreciation for the movie and now I love it too.

    For non-readers, I think that movie adaptations can spark a deeper interest and “force” them to read too. I’d like to think of the adaptations as a bridge to reading. Of course, I can also see how they inspire laziness as well.

    Great Post!!

  • liac333 says:

    I think that movie adaptions don’t necessarily drive more people to read the books, but they drive more people to hear the story, which is every writers dream.
    Oh, and Eragon was terrible. I saw it at a (fairly) young age, and I think it was the FIRST EVER MOVIE that I did not like.
    Twas a turning point in my life.

  • gaycarboys says:

    I disagree. Some movies don’t do the book justice but there are those which are fabulous. Especially the scifi genre. I was a book worm but are becoming less so as I get older. The romance of curling up with a good book, or sitting back with a glass of wine and my hunny are notions that both have their places, but I’ll take doing something I can share every time over something I can do solo.

  • fantastic post! i totally agree with you!! i read the 3 LOTR books and saw the 3 movies also and all i can say is that i would rather prefer to read the books due to the fact that books appreciate details!!! yip, movies, even HP, have some deleted scenes… same goes with the Chronicles of Narnia. ive read the 7 chronicles already but the movies seemed to lose a lot of excitement compared to the excitement that i felt when i read them! but of course, these are just my personal opinion!! c:


  • raeleene says:

    all i really have to say, is that i completely agree. thanks for helping me realize my extreme dislike of the diminished love of feeling a book in your hands is not rare. 🙂

  • Ciiku says:

    I totally agree with you.
    And I have a motto on this, if I have read the book, I will not be watching the movie. However, knowing a movie was adapted from a book has made me look out for books e.g The Road and The Reader [never watched the movies but I read the books].

  • Our niece was only allowed to watch the Harry Potter movies after she read the correlating book. I plan to do the same thing with The Hobbit and my 6 year-old (we’ll be reading it together however). Now, with the Lord of the Rings, I think that those three films are so well done and capture the essence of so many aspects of Tolkien’s world and considering how truly dense the books can be that those films are worthy as entry points into the literature.

  • E says:

    That’s the exact reason they’re called “adaptions”. They aren’t meant to function the same way as the books. Often times the books have so many things going on within them that to put them into a movie would result in a movie so long, no one would want to sit through it. It’s a sad truth but it is there. If people want the full authentic story, they’ll read the book. But if they want the summery or jist of what happened, they’ll watch the movie.

  • jennimoore2 says:

    First of all, I would just like to say that i agree with you. In most of my experiences, film versions are done poorly and don’t do justice to the story. But I definitely think they can! I think be ecstatic the day that film adaptations of books are given the same amount of careful attention and respect that they deserve. Not that it doesn’t happen, because it does — rarely. I just think we also need to give film more credit as a story-telling tool. And I would have to say that yes, movie versions do drive more people to read. At least in my experience, when I see that a movie is being made out of a book, I am driven to read the book before the movie comes out. That way, when the movie comes out it’s more fun for me because I can compare the two. Usually I’m disappointed in the film version at least a little, but it’s still fun for me to see some of the story come to life.

  • mheretowrite says:

    I found some books though movie adaptations so i won’t say its all bad; but I have noticed that most people i come across have never bothered to read the book they just watch the movie. One trip to the movies to watch the Harry potter was enough to confirm that. As an avid reader I have to say that people who don’t read the book are missing out on a lot!

  • marlowesnymph says:

    An adaptation will always be just that: an adaptation. I think you just have to consider the fact that film is a different medium and what works for one medium may not work for another. What may seem vital information for a book may not translate well in a movie. It’s all about perception.

    That being said, I’ve been dreaming of a BFG film adaptation for years. I hope they do it right and don’t give us another disappointment.

    Nice post! Congrats on FP!


  • Melinda Lim says:

    i agree with you! i’ve always felt that movies adapted from books do not do justice to the original story from the books! some parts would be missing, some parts would be changed, and always they’re not what i imagined the stories would be when i played them out in my head while reading the books. so many little details captured in the books would be left out, thus taking away essence from the stories.

  • sundancer16 says:

    I would say that I love the book 9 times out of 10 BETTER than the movie. However, there are a few, such as Gone With the Wind and A Walk to Remember and Walking Across Egypt in which I simply loved the movie better.

  • I was searching online for a blog to share with my 5th grade classroom and stumbled upon yours. Being an English Language Arts teacher, I enjoyed reading this article you posted. You’ll have about 70 young minds logging on and viewing your article within the next week.

  • hollyjb says:

    I think it can go both ways. Some people (like my father) just don’t read; but there are stories that I’d love for him to even know a little bit of so the movies are good in that way. I think with HP a lot of people were actually drawn to read the books b/c of the movies. I totally agree with you though, b/c movie adaptations are never as good as the books, it’s just not possible.

  • yami says:

    The thing about me is that I’m always optimistic because my siblings hate reading and I want them to see why I was ignoring them, so its always a huge downer when the film sucks. granted the movie is hardly ever as good as the book but sometimes the movies in their own right aren’t always terrible.

  • I couldn’t agree more! I think partly the reason I hate it so much is the fact that the movie is in no way shape or form going to live up to my imagination! Also, they need to stop messing with Dahl’s stories. Part of my childhood was destroyed with the Fantastic Mr Fox, and I’d rather not relive that again.
    Congratulations on the FP! Fantastic and well deserved post!

  • I have to say that I agree entirely!

    I’m one of those people that will like the one I experienced first, better. Even if I can appreciate both the book and film as completely separate entities, if I saw the movie before I heard of or read the book, I’m always going to like the movie a little more and vice versa.

    It also takes away from the imagination even if you do read the book afterwards. After seeing them on the big screen, it can be hard to read the book without super imposing the movie over the words in your mind.

    Sometimes when reading one of my favorite novels, I might consider for a moment how cool it might be if it was made into a movie. Of course a movie modeled after *my* perception of it, which is where all the trouble starts.

    To take something as wonderful as a good book, and the limitless different ways other people experience the story and then, as you say, funnel it into a comparably small finite parameter, just takes away a lot of the magic of reading. Especially for a young person who might not have had the chance to find that magic yet.

  • Snigdha says:

    Very well said. And i agree.

  • Yeah, I agree with the frustration and understand what you mean. But don’t you think that for people who are NOT readers (which is not me, I’m a book worm if ever there was one), watching a movie can be the way they decide to read a book.

    I’m a reader, my husband isn’t, but he would watch the movie, and if that’s the only way he’s going to come into contact with the classics surely movies of books aren’t that bad.

    Saying that, how can you do a book, which is 140,000 words, justice in a mere hour and a half of acting? – Not easily, that’s how.

  • Yeah, I agree with the frustration and understand what you mean. But don’t you think that for people who are NOT readers (which is not me, I’m a book worm if ever there was one), watching a movie can be the way they decide to read a book.

    I’m a reader, my husband isn’t, but he would watch the movie, and if that’s the only way he’s going to come into contact with the classics surely movies of books aren’t that bad.

    Saying that, how can you do a book, which is 140,000 words, justice in a mere hour and a half of acting? – Not easily, that’s how.


    • R. H. Culp says:

      Twenty-four hours ago I wouldn’t have thought that way. I would have said that I think book adaptations don’t make new readers, they just redirect people who already read to a good book. After reading all the comments here, I’m much less sure of what I believe. I really would love to see some sort of statistics on the kinds of people who read books after seeing or hearing about movies.

    • Fareeha says:

      There have been many times that I’ve seen a movie come out and find out it’s a book and decide to read the book before I watch the movie. And in those cases, I wouldn’t have picked up the book otherwise, so good point!

  • i agree that movies don’t always do justice with the books they are adapted from. but being a bookaholic and having read the lord of the rings triology, i can safely say that not everyone can read such detailed novels. for such people movies make more sense. and for people like us who love to read, we always have the option of switching off the movies half way if we don’t like it, since we have read the book! 😉

  • I agree that it’s sad to see people opting to sit in the dark for hours staring at a screen instead of picking up the book of the same title, but on the flip side – as you brushed on – film releases encourage book sales, showing that these films inspire people to read, people who may otherwise never have looked twice at the book. I know numerous people who picked up copies of Atonement, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, the Notebook or One Day having seen the film or in preparation of seeing the film. It’s somewhat bittersweet but associate James Mcavoy or Ryan Gosling with a title and you’ll undoubtedly reach a new market, introducing thousands of people around the world to a work of writing – and that can’t be such a bad thing.

    However, it is painful to watch a beloved book ripped apart and polished up for the big screen (though the original BFG film viewed just as I imagined it when I first read it), and I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a book done justice in such a way. There will always be something left untouched, something personal to ourself as the reader that no director, producer or big name actor could possible touch on. Having said that, in the case of Harry Potter I never thought much of the books or Rowling’s writing, but I thought the films were good 🙂

    Food for thought that, thanks for a great piece.

    • R. H. Culp says:

      I really do hope that movies do drive new readers to books, rather than just shuffling around old ones, and after reading so many comments like yours I’m beginning to think that is the case. Thanks for your thoughts and the compliment.

  • Turning book into movie, not very promising for the book’s future or its past. Turning books into cinema is completely different. For example, Orlando is a great film by Sally Potter based on a great book by Virginia Woolf.

    Different art forms using the same story is an old habit, starting with legends and biblical stories turned into sculpture, painting, music, dance and novels. The important thing is to keep the story in the realm of art, that’s a bit more complicated.

    I agree we all should read more good books and watch more good quality cinema and also contemplate some paintings, sculptures and architecture. We should listen to more good music too 🙂

    All art is about the same thing; there are not too many stories just a billion ways to tell them.

  • What about books based on other books? In the UK publisher HarperCollins is signing up well-known writers to write modern-day versions of Jane Austen’s novels (http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/sep/13/joanna-trollope-rewrite-jane-austen). Where do you stand on that?

    • R. H. Culp says:

      I hadn’t heard about that. I’ll be interested to see what comes of it, but I don’t envy the author(s) the flak I expect they’ll get from Austin fans. I’ll have to think on that, but I don’t have a negative knee jerk reaction. To some extent these kinds of things are done all the time, especially with myths and legends. Robin Hood and King Arthur are good examples, and there is a book by Rebecca Serle coming out telling the story of Romeo and Juliet from Rosaline’s perspective, which I think should be really interesting (though I couldn’t find information on it for the life of me right now). I’m more concerned with encouraging people to read than I am with what they read (though I obviously recommend good books over bad), and it gives me faith that the author described it as a tribute to Jane Austen, not an emulation.

      In an ironic side note, the rights to the Rosaline movie have already been sold to a production company and the movie might come out even before the book.

  • beckyday6 says:

    I Completly agree! And Eragon I think was the worst movie adaption I have EVER seen, it was beyond terrible! I cringed the whole way through it!
    I think if you are already a constant reader, the movie will drive you to the book, because thats what happens to me. However if you arn’t, or are a young child then I think you skip the book entirely and go straight to the film. Which is such a shame……

  • lavidaesta says:

    I _wish_ movie adaptions would make people read more books, especially the really good ones, but I doubt that’s a fact. The first movie I thought about when I started to read your post (which is fantastic btw) was Eragon, and I’m so glad you mentioned it! I never saw the movie (thank God), but I saw the trailer and I got frightened. How can they possibly ruin a movie that much? The books are well-written and every child with just the slightest interest for adventures should read them, or be read to by their parents, but no – they see the movie, and they don’t like it. Good book begone. Sad.

  • fwbs says:

    I so agree… movie adaptations are sending the clear signal that the kids don’t need to read the books at all, it’s all right in front of them. I hate it for two reasons:
    1. am a reading lover and would love that others read these books.
    2. movies cut the story toooooo much and i simply hate that.

    my younger sis is starting with harry potter, and my parents and i are making sure that she sees the movie only after she has read the book.

  • It’s nice to read books, and watch their adaptation. Usually the book is better, and the film more enjoyable.

  • I am still traumatised by the big screen adaptation of Graham Swift’s ‘Waterland’, which is one of my all-time favourite books. The movie makers made a total hash of it!

  • You are right, sometimes movie adaptions are very inaccurate or (even worse) “liberally” change (see The Lord of The Rings…).
    And don’t forget comics too: have you seen the Hellboy movies? Totally raped my favourite comics!!!

    But your question has sense, at least. Well, I think that in some case (e.g. children’s books, or really well-known old novels) movies can attract people to the paper original, especially for school aged; but mostly we have only a economic purpose with spectacular effects regardless to the original story, so people will “forget” the book or the comic…or never know about it. And just keep the movie in their minds – that’s what happens most of the times. You know, my 13 years old cousins saw the Hellboy movies with me. Then I took out a comic and they were like, oh what they did the comic too???? :-/

  • areedhel says:

    I definitely agree on the fact that you miss out if you only watch the movie and don’t read the books and being a Harry Potter fan I’ve sometimes got rather annoyed when large important parts of the book is missing in the movie.Also watching the movie takes away the chance to yourself imagine the characters and their world, instead you have it all served without having to use any type of imagination and that’s missing out on one of the fun parts with reading. However I don’t completely agree with you, because even though I do get annoyed at the changes that have been made I still enjoy watching the movies. I think it’s rather interesting to see how they decided to make the movie and how the book turned out on the screen. Although I much prefer reading the books first and then watching the movie, as I then get the chance to myself imagine what it would look like.

  • Completely agree. I think that films are “dumbing down” books as well as a lot else for generations to come. The amount of kids I come across claiming they “don’t read” is scary. How can they expect to grow into greats if they don’t expand their imaginations? The big screen never catches the magic that words can.

    • R. H. Culp says:

      And there are so many things that reading does for you beyond expanding your imagination! If you can read, all you need is a library and you can learn (almost) anything. Just as importantly it teaches you to express yourself in more than 140 characters, and how to relate to different people in different situations. Thanks for your comment.

  • Serafine__ says:

    Very true. A movie can be an ‘adaptation’ of the book and can not be a real book. The way one enjoys the story as a reader is completely different the way one enjoys it watching on screen. As a reader, you are the director and the story is moving in your mind. The way we turn back the pages to read certain parts again, the way we pause reading and think at certain places is not there in the movies. The influence of the book on a reader is for a long time where as movie can influence only for a short period of time.

    Again, in my opinion we can not say that books should not be made in to movies. I would not have known many books if they were not made in to movies. I think, it depends on individual, if I like a movie adaptation, I would like to go back and read the original book. Though I know the story, I am sure I would still enjoy it more than watching the movie.

    A very nice post and congrats on being FP..

  • Sometimes I like reading ‘the book’ after seeing ‘the movie’ because I already have pictures in my mind of what each character looks like. A good example is ‘They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?’ It was written in the 1930s by Horace McCoy, and I never would have heard of it had it not been for the 1969 film with Jane Fonda, Gig Young and Michael Sarrazin. Another is the 1974 film ‘The Friends of Eddie Coyle’, a great movie adapted from a book by George Higgins.

  • newbon says:

    I think it works both ways. If people have read the books, IE Twilight or Harry Potter, then they will inevitably go and see the film and vice versa, if you watch a good film and know that it is based on a book then you are more likely to read the book. In my case it was “The Eagle has Landed” by Jack Higgins. I loved the film and have now read just about every book by Jack Higgins. However, I do agree that sometimes films do the book no justice. I think this is partly down to the fact that books need to be adapted to work on screen and so can lose some of their magic, but in the age of massive box office takings, you can’t blame a film company from taking advantage of the hype around a great book…..you just have to hope they do it proud.

    • R. H. Culp says:

      I think there’s a lot of truth to that, except I think that the movie primarily boosts sales for the uber popular books like Harry Potter and Twilight, while other books are eclipsed by the movies. For example, I had no idea until someone commented about it that Jaws was based on a book, and the same for E.T. I’ve lost track of the number of times people will talk about Jurassic Park and I’ll ask them if they’ve read the book because it’s great too and their response is “It was a book first?” I feel like whatever movies do for books in the short term, they undo in the long term. Not sure if that’s true, but it’s the way I feel.

  • davide says:

    you are blowing off steam, but it is good steam, for you are right it is a problem.
    without going into the debate of the promotion of literature through other media (it just does not work that often), the plain fact is that most films adapted from books were badly adapted, just bad or vastly inferior to the original text, due to the limitations of film.
    thank you for going public about this.

  • A perfect example: the movie Troy. Nothing like the myth, no richness gotten from reading the epic poetry of homer. Just a trash tale that allow kids to think they know the story of Troy. Shameful.

  • aerah08 says:

    this article shows a lot of your creative conclusion 🙂
    congratulations for being featured at the freshly-pressed.. ^_^
    hmm.. i agree with you.. in a certain way..
    though.. most of the time I prefer the novel more than its movie adaptation

  • Amjad says:

    Absolutely you are right…..
    same situation with me.when read a book and when watch the same book movie then i differentiate my mind picture and character which imaginated ….Try you also it very interested.

  • I completely agree with you. We are so used to media being thrown in our faces rather than using our brains to actually process the written word. The depth associated with a story in a book is so much more complex than what can be portrayed in a movie.
    Even when the movie is done well it always makes me a little sad becuase the book is always better. I also find that when I go back and re-read a book after seeing the movie, my perspective is changed. We bring so much of our own lives into a book because of the space left for imagination. When we watch a movie we loose the potential to process the story in context of our own experiences.

  • Wow, took a long time to get to this space on your blog- congrats on Freshly Pressed and generating so much debate. When I taught middle school, I created a unit “You’ve Seen the Movie, Now Read the Book.” Students read books from present day to classics and wrote compare/contrast essays. It was a great exercise and many “saw” how the movie adaptations had skewed the books- plot, character,theme, setting, etc.
    My eldest son is in a graduate program for a MSW (social work) and was assigned to EITHER read “The Help” OR see the movie — what’s with that? In grad school?

    • R. H. Culp says:

      I took a Comparative Lit and Film class in college where we did much the same thing. It deepened my appreciation both for the books and for the films. An interesting exercise. But for a grad program to say “or see the movie” disheartens me so much.

  • How do you feel about movies that are adapted into cereal? I think they lack plot and characterization, and there’s precious little action or dialog, but they are packed with vitamins and sugar and they’re delicious.

  • NV says:

    Sometimes I want to read a book, but if I don’t have the time, I would watch the movie instead, but it depends on the book. If its a book I must must read, then i’d rather that than the movie or both (book first). Its interesting how a writer can convey a story in better detail, more emotion etc way better than a book. Guess writing is a skill, acting not so much? :/

    • R. H. Culp says:

      There are good actors and bad actors just like there are good writers and bad writers. Most of what you’re talking about comes from the difference between the mediums. In a book you can communicate a character’s thoughts naturally to the audience, where in film that kind of insight could only be accomplished by monologues or voices over narration. A lot of it also comes from the fact that you only spend an hour or two with characters from movies, and several times that with characters in books. I don’t dislike television and movies (not even all book-adaptations), I dislike that the average American watches five hours of television a day while complaining that books take too much time.

  • NV says:

    Sometimes I want to read a book, but if I don’t have the time, I would watch the movie instead, but it depends on the book. If its a book I must must read, then i’d rather that than the movie or both (book first). Its interesting how a writer can convey a story in better detail, more emotion etc way better than a movie. Guess writing is a skill, acting not so much? :/

  • Samantha Baugus says:

    I totally agree with you (and I do fear an Ender’s Game movie, that book changed my life). But at the same time, I think movies are a fun way to reexperience the book. When I was little my mother wouldn’t let me watch a movie without “reading the book first.” So when about 5th grade, when the big LOTR phase was out, I couldn’t see the movies because I hadn’t read the books. Easily solved though. I read all three Lord of the Rings the summer between 5th and 6th grade. Then I got to see the movies. There is a bigger sense of accomplishment when you “read the book first.”

    Also, you get the pleasure of telling all your friends who haven’t read the book, “The book was so much better, they left so much out of the movie.”

    For some reason, saying that makes me happy. Not that stuff was left out of the movie, but that I am a true fan. I read the book first.

  • spunkfunk says:

    WOW! I loved your post! I’m astonished every time I hear someone, who hasn’t read The Lord of the Rings, say that they’re planning yet another 24-hour film marathon, watching the uncut versions of all three parts. I mean, come on! If that’s, say, the third time, that means they have invested three days, watching the same movie all over again (OK, not at once, but still) and yet the book is being neglected, when it could have easily been read for the time spent watching the filmed story three times. And the strange part is, that no-one who does that realizes the pointlessness of letting someone else imagine everything for you.
    I’m so thankful that certain books, The Catcher in the Rye in particular, may not be filmed! It would simply be a disaster, I think. Of course, it depends on many, many things, but generally if your imagination works well, no-one could do a better job, as a movie can never be so long as to show all the tiny things which make the experience complete.

  • fashionelle says:

    so true!! i hate when this kind of stuff happens to books! I mean yea, the movie might be good but it will never be good enough to be like the book itself

  • Curtis says:

    I like when a filmmaker totally “betrays” the source material to make a movie that’s just as good as the book but very different:

    Blade Runner vs. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
    Manhunter vs. Red Dragon (especially the third act)

    Also when a story is so better suited to film that even the author of the book likes the movie better:

    Fight Club

  • The thing is, I love books. I love proper literature, I love fiction and non-fiction, romantic comedies, memoirs, and sci-fi. I love it all. But I also enjoy the movies, most of the time. I think that while the movie is meant to portray the book, it becomes it’s own thing and you have to take it for what it is, a hybrid. Was I irritated that in the Harry Potter films, the topography of the Weasley’s home changed to better suit their purpose – every film? YES…but I also liked the version of the world they portrayed.

    The movies – I think entice lots of people to read the books. And as far as children go, it’s up to the parents and school environment to make reading cool. If mom and dad don’t even both to read the paper, why should their miniatures be interested?

  • nicolina says:

    really good points. 🙂

  • All I have to say is… Percy Jackson.

  • And I do have a confession. I haven’t read Prince Caspian, and I barely skimmed The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. If I hadn’t seen the movies, I probably would have. I kept seeing the movie while reading the book, and it was just awful, because I already knew what happened. I did however read TO Kill A Mockingbird after seeing the movie. It worked pretty well.

  • JustAgirl says:

    I do not like the book adaptations, and like they say … its an ‘ adaptation’. It is never gonna be as great as reading every single page of that book.

    All said and done… I hope my daughter does pick up a reading habit.

  • hey!!! i agree with you C.O.M.P.L.E.T.E.L.Y. It makes me so mad to see that all that i have imagined has been spoiled with the movie versions of the books i love!!! GREAT POST!!

  • thatgirlwhit says:

    this is my #1 favorite childhood book. i read it over and over again! i had no idea it was becoming a movie. that does make me more nervous than excited.
    p.s. – books are ALWAYS better and more worth it. unfortunately, i feel that all the movie/script writers are out of ideas – hence why all the big hits these days are based on books. that’s where the good plots are.

  • miilee says:

    You have worded out EXACTLY what I’ve been thinking!! I generally hate movies based on books and I feel awful that the younger kids in my family are keener to watch the movies than read the books! Most of the time, the movies cant even begin to be as awesome as the books!

  • Jeff says:

    Yes, but in cases like Blade Runner (Director’s Cut), they are different enough from the book to justify themselves. Do Andriods Dream of Electric Sheep? is a wonderful book (and I’m a massive book fan, though also in love with film), but the film is such a wonderful piece of cinema, to deny it’s creation based on this standpoint you’ve outlined would have been criminal.

  • Tracy says:

    There’s no way to adapt a book correctly. Either the movie’s too similar to the book and you get bored because you already know what’s going to happen, or they changed the story too much and it’s maddening!

  • SinhaG says:

    A lot depends on how well the book is treated so that finally, the movie version is worth watching. Screenplay and imagining the story as mentioned in the film is very important. How a story unfolds in the movie should be as the book. There are many movies based on books where a touch of the filmmakers is added which becomes different than the book. Imagining the story in a book to make a movie version of it needs a lot of homewwork.

  • Sham says:

    AGREED! The books are always better than the film adaptations.

  • SinhaG says:

    A lot depends on how well the book is treated so that finally, the movie version is worth watching. Screenplay is very important. How a story unfolds in the movie should be as the book. There are many movies based on books where a touch of the filmmakers is added which becomes different than the book. Imagining the story in a book to make a movie version of it needs a lot of homewwork.

  • Gillian Colbert says:

    In general I agree with you, however, every now and then I think the movies actually exceed the books. For instance, the Stieg Larson series, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, etc … the movies streamlined the story to focus on Lisbeth Salander, where the books had entirely too much about Mikael Blomkvist who was unbelievably boring. I read the entire series and watched every movie and felt the movies were the better of the two.

    I felt the same way about Lord of the Rings. I struggled with Tolkein but loved the movies.

    99.99999999% of the time though, the movie can’t possibly do it justice. I think that’s because books are sensory experiences and engage you in a way that a movie just can’t. A book can describe smells and tastes that you have an emotional memory of in your mind, but a movie doesn’t do that. Books personalize the experience, but in a movie you’re just a voyeur.

  • Joshua Stein says:

    The biggest issue with translating the written word to the screen is the loss of the nuances in the original storytelling. Trying to condense some of this material into an easily digestible two hour chunk is a daunting task, and as a result, corners must be cut, scenes deleted and subltety and flavor can fall by the wayside. The sad reality is, that no matter how “good” the adaptation from page to screen may be, there will always be some element of the original story missing, leaving true fans of the source material feeling that there is something lacking in the finished product, leading to disappointment.

    Personally, I enjoy watching most movie adaptations to see what has been changed, what survived the cut and what should have been left alone.

  • Sara says:

    I agree with you, to a point. I love absolutely everything about books… from the stories they hold and they way they can change your life to the way they look on my shelves and feel in my hands: something you just don’t get with a film!

    And I feel too many people take the ‘easy’ route of plonking down and watching a film for an hour or so, rather than spending a little bit of time to really explore a the story and make it your own as you can with a book. But by the same tone, we are heading towards a society which expects everything to be handed to us on a plate. Straight away. This can’t be anyones fault in particular, but this probably isn’t the place to discuss these things!

    Saying that, I know so many people who have watched ‘the film’, loved it and have gone and read the books afterwards… I suppose it perhaps comes down to how ‘good’ the story is at the end of the day. If it can survive being ‘funnelled’ on to the big screen, surely there will always be people who want to spend the time reading it and discovering the tale for themselves?

  • […] As I was logging into WordPress.com to start writing my entries, I noticed an interesting entry by a WordPress.com blog owner by the name of R. H. Culp called, “Why I hate (even good) movies based on books“. […]

  • EmSwanson says:

    I think I’d have to disagree with you here. While I’m incredibly disappointed by the lack of originality in recent movies (Inception being the only one to spring to mind that breaks the pattern), I think that a lot of adaptations give little-known books the attention they deserve. If people find out that a certain book is being made into a movie, they’re going to assume that it’s worthy enough to have people sit down and pick it to pieces and turn it into a visual form, and they may then give it the time of day. I can think of countless books that I’ve seen getting more exposure in stores from having that little sticker on them that says “Now a motion picture!” or they’ve had their cover revamped to have an image of the movie’s main actors.

    The cultural phenomenon of Harry Potter for instance, drew in immense crowds and numbers BEFORE the films… For many people, it was more of a thrill to see what the characters would look like than an introduction to the story. Bar a few exceptions, almost everyone I know between the ages of 15 and 25 has read the Harry Potter books (and read them many, many times). The movies have just become an extra treat. They all know what happens, who dies, who ends up together, etc.

    If we’re talking about how today’s generation is spoon-fed, then film adaptations of books are the least of our worries.

    • R. H. Culp says:

      If we’re talking about how today’s generation is spoon-fed, then film adaptations of books are the least of our worries.

      I love it.

      As to books getting attention they wouldn’t otherwise have received, I think the Harry Potters and the Twilights get more attention, but for other movies whose books aren’t better known already, the book just gets steamrolled. Just in these comments I’ve learned about a half dozen movies that I had no idea were base on books. And I, unfortunately, know quite a few people between the ages of 15 and 25 who have only seen the Harry Potter movies.

  • Jessica's Musings says:

    I would say that movie adaptations of books rarely get it right, and I also cringe when I hear of one coming out, but there have been some that have been so close to the book that I love it.

    I sort of disagree about it pushing the book to the background. I have known people who don’t read… ever… and once they’ve seen a movie they love they want to read the book. I’m not saying that’s the norm. There are probably a lot of people who think “I’ve seen the movie. Why read the book?” But that’s not always the case.

    Another thing to remember is that Hollywood rarely comes up with anything original, especially these days. Movies have always been based on books or plays. Now they’ve taken to remaking old movies and tv shows and messing those up as well.

    I remember having a discussion with a co-worker about different books and movies and she said how much she loved The Shining. I had never read the book, but I saw the movie and really didn’t like it. And I said so. Her immediate reaction was, “Read the book.” And I did… and I loved it. I always read the book now… but sometimes I enjoy the movie too.

    • R. H. Culp says:

      Thanks for the comment. Interesting bit of trivia about The Shining: Stephen King doesn’t even like it despite its phenomenal success. I was fascinated to hear that because so many people love the movie.

      • Jessica's Musings says:

        Yeah, I’d heard that. I would assume it’s because Kubrick and his crew changed it so much from the novel…. especially the ending. I much prefer King’s own movie adaptation which was done for tv. It was six hours long, but it stuck to the novel.

  • I’m a damn big fan of the Harry Potter series. I can’t say I hate the movies, though I’ll definitely say that some parts have earned my disgust. When they miss out plot points critical to the story, that’s when my sarcastic tongue comes out. I hate it when the director thinks that they’re at liberty to experiment with the book and do whatever the hell they want with it. Have some connection to the story, please.

  • Reading through the comments I’m slightly shocked at how irrationally angry some of you are over someone else’s vision not matching up with yours. That’s all it comes down to, if the movie version of Wuthering Heights was exactly how you interpreted it and envisioned it, you would be singing its praises. (I’m not trying to call anyone out specifically, that just kind of stuck out more than some other comments.)

    I think “hating” an artistic effort because it violates your nostalgia for books you appreciate is slightly myopic. There are absolutely ridiculous novelizations of successful movie franchises, shouldn’t everyone who takes umbrage with movies adapting films have an issue with these spin-off novels?

    Also, this isn’t a new fad like some seem to suggest: “The Godfather” trilogy, anyone? “Grapes of Wrath?” “The Thin Man?” Some of the most beloved, lauded movies of all-time were “adaptations.” And that’s what they are, adaptations. That’s why a lot of movies slap “based on” right there on the pretty posters and not “totally, 100%, word-for-word.”

    I understand your point about worrying that our youth might be losing touch with books and that’s true to a degree: they’re reading fewer books but still reading more. Same with adults, teenagers, everyone. Print readership is down, electronic readership is skyrocketing. Someone blamed new tech for killing books and they’re spot on in that regard but it’s NOT killing readership.

    Lastly, do you feel differently about books, real or fiction, that get optioned into TV series and mini-series? Just reading through some of the comments people seem to be hitting on the same point: a movie can’t give the necessary time and attention that our brains can give to a story. Even the HP movies are 90-120 minutes per book, where a show like “The Pacific” is 10-12 hours based off two books (With The Old Breed & A Helmet for My Pillow). “Game of Thrones” seems to have stayed very true to source material because it has the room to stretch its legs.

    I do love the post though, anything that promotes good conversation is awesome. Keep it up! You got a new follower and fan.


    • R. H. Culp says:

      I appreciate the thoughtful comments and you certainly bring up some great points. I’ve mentioned it a couple other places in the comments already, but I think any adaptation from one medium to another is a challenge and by no means inherently evil. Like you said, there are almost as many terrible books based on good movies as there are bad movies based on good books. Adapting books isn’t a new thing, but looking back at movies like The Godfather, I think the films often eclipse the books they are based on. Jaws, E. T., and Jurassic Park are three other examples that have been mentioned where the same thing has happened.

      Though to play devil’s advocate: who’s to say that any of those books would be remembered even if films hadn’t been made about them and maybe more people read them over their lifespan because of the adaptation. I wish I knew, and I could see it swinging either way. There are a lot of good movie adaptations out there, and I “hate” the adaptations less than I hate what it says about the decline of reading, especially amongst younger generations.

    • R. H. Culp says:

      And I’m glad you’re sticking around. I look forward to more of these kinds of comments in the future.

  • Fareeha says:

    Great post. I think you’re right in that movies very rarely, if at all, give a book justice. I think of some good adaptations like The Kite Runner, which was pretty accurate, and I realize that no matter how accurately the movie follows the book, it can’t be the same because detailed description is too hard to translate. You can’t grasp the narrators feelings in a movie (the biggest problem with movies like The Kite Runner and The Namesake).

    And I fear that Ender’s Game will be made too! Though it’s been in talk for so long that I can’t see it actually happening. There is no way that movie can come near how great that book is. And if it does, it’s going to have some pretty inappropriate scenes with little children.

    As for Harry Potter…I love HP and didn’t want to let it go, so I’m glad they made it into movies, but I can’t see how anyone just watching the movies would understand half of the plots since they were adapted so poorly (or left out completely). But I still love them!

  • Some movies based on books are good, while some are bad; it’s really a toss-up. I personally liked Eragon, even though it took lots of liberties. I thought that the Harry Potter movies were very good, and stayed true to the books. I think it really depends on how much you care about the movies staying completely true to the books, as well as other factors like acting, effects, etc. I did not know that The BFG is being turned into a film! I’m excited for that, but perhaps a little skeptical. Actually, I’m always skeptical, but I’m always open, too.

  • nic01a says:

    I sighed heavily at my daughters response when i threw the twilight saga at her. Although i know they are not what you would call intellectually stimulating books, i adored them.
    “I am just going to wait for the film” was her response.

    Of course i argued the fact that she wont get the full story. She wont feel the emotion balgh de blagh blagh.
    “How am i supposed to see the character in my head if i dont know what they look like?”

    Needless to say she now has a breaking dawn shaped dint in the side of her head! and a pile of books (without pictures) at the side of her bed.

  • corzgalore says:

    I know often I have read a book just because I saw the movie. And half of these kids who only see the movies probably wouldn’t read the books anyways.

    I think it’s our society though. We are all about instant gratification, reading isn’t about that.

  • Aisiri says:

    I love Eragon, and the way they made the movie made me want to spit on their faces.
    I love LOTR, and the movies were okay, but books are best any day.
    I love HP, movies- some are bad, some okay.
    I love Michael Crichton, somebody screw the fellows who makes a sucking movie out of them.
    Books and movies: I prefer Books.

  • Masha says:

    I think I’m one of those weird people who want to read a book after they’ve seen a movie, sometimes to see how much they defiled the thing in the first place.

    But sometimes this is the only way some stories can reach the masses, if they get to laugh, love, cry, enjoy and learn from them, who are we to judge?

    I grew up with the Harry Potter phenomena, but in my country the books would’ve never gotten popular had the films not come out. Same as the Lord of the Rings. These books, a decade ago, were just not available to us. (I’m deeply in love with the Harry Potter books, so naturally, I absolutely hate the movies, but I understand that WB offered a sweet deal and Jo took it.)

    I do generally cringe at most movie adaptation of books, especially when they do unnecessary changes to the story. But there are adaptations that I think capture the essence of the book beautifully, like the movies “Atonement” and “Fried Green Tomatoes” -not the same as the books, but quite the same essence.

    Perhaps this makes no sense and I support your right to blow off steam, Free Internet after all 😀 but I guess, for the love of celluloid, I’m glad they still make books into movies or else we’d be stuck with really bad ones most of the times.

  • Lafemmeroar says:

    We are a society that likes instant gratification. Having said that I’m a reader … been a reader all my life so it’s different for me. If I haven’t read the book and have seen the movie (and I liked the movie) then most likely I’ll buy the book.

    But for kids these days, things move soooo fast. I think that most of them will opt out of the book and see the flick instead. Because unless it’s required reading I think most kids would rather sit in the dark and eat popcorn to find out what happens instead of turning the pages for days. Sure the experience is different, but so is talking to someone in person versus texting. And we all know about tween thumbnastics …

  • jerened says:

    Movies almost never live up to the original books, at least in my opinion. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that when I read the story, I interpret it MY way. When it’s on the screen…it is someone else’s interpretation, and it just doesn’t feel right to me.

  • akda says:

    The top 2 reasons why I used to hate movies based on books…

    1. As you said, ‘cutting so many corners’. It’s almost not even the same, and I think that is an insult to the author, slapping them ‘hey this one you wrote isn’t really significant, let’s just cut it.’ It’s as good as not being written! And I really think every scene is an important one, because it was crafted by the author, and it builds up the reader to what the story is going to be.

    2. It doesn’t satisfy my expectations. Yeah I know, expectations are s***, but the ‘It was better when I imagined it’ really comes into action for me.

    …but I am really looking forward to the movie based on Hunger Games. I really liked that book, and the only part I would like to see in the movie is the setting. I really want to compare theirs and mine.

    Bumped here from Freshly Pressed!

    Have a great day! 🙂

    • R. H. Culp says:

      There are good adaptations and bad adaptations. In the case of Eragon, I think the movie they made was disrespectful to Christopher Paolini and the thousands of readers in his fan base that the movie took advantage of.
      As for the Hunger Games, I worry that the movie won’t be able to capture the complex relationships between Catniss, her family, Peeta, Gale, Cinna, etc. For me, it was those relationships and the depth of them that made the book.

  • Rohan says:

    I disagree – a good film can encourage people to read the book as well. For example, films such as One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Soylent Green or Blade Runner can intrigue people enough such that they read the book (at least it did in my case). Even Starship Troopers was good enough that it got people reading Heinlen.

    Having said that, porr films (like I Robot) can indeed dissuade people from reading the books.

    • R. H. Culp says:

      I think it’s hilarious that you rate Starship Troopers over I, Robot. Don’t get me wrong, I love the movie for its absurdity, but it had little more in common with the book than I, Robot, and it wasn’t exactly the pinnacle of acting excellence.

  • dalliancewithmypen says:

    i totally agree! nothing bothers me more than hearing someone say thewy love harry potter but they never read the books! and i’ve heard people say they’re a waste of their time because the movie was just easier! i feel bad for how much these people are missing.

  • bmacconnell1 says:

    BFG already had an animated film adaptation. That is all.

  • I just requested the book “Boy in Striped Pajamas” for my 15 year old who hates reading. Once in a while a kid catches a spark from such an experience and takes off with reading. The first time they read the book first and hate the movie they tend to “get it.”

    Once in a very rare while I do actually prefer the movie (“Julie & Julia”) or like the book almost, but not quite as well as the book (“Inkheart” “Spiderwick Chronicles.”) That would mean about 99.99999998 % of the time I totally prefer the book!

    Great post!

  • Jess says:

    Probably off topic, but a huge pet-peeve of mine is when a book adaptation comes to the big screen and suddenly the only copies you can find of the book have a PICTURE from the MOVIE on the cover. I am a lot less likely to buy the book at that point.

  • Heidi says:

    I think it’s best to leave some books alone, not all books were made for the big screen. However, I don’t think it’s a bad thing for books to end up on the big screen. I was very happy that Harry Potter made it to the big screen. After watching all the movies my son couldn’t wait to read the books. My son struggles with reading; I was very excited when he found something that he wanted to read. I realize this isn’t always the case, but I hope that there are other kids out there like my son. If it gets kids reading, I’m all for it.

  • dael72 says:

    “Every time another book-derived movie comes out it feels like it is condemning the book to obscurity…”: it’s so true! Being a teacher, I can’t help expressing my disappointment when classics like “The Three Musketeers” come to the screen doing martial arts… So sad.

  • Ashley says:

    I hate books to movies too, but sometimes it works out by making non-readers, readers! I knew nothing about ‘Twilight’ until the movie. Of course, I can’t call myself a FAN since I wasn’t there before the movie, but its interesting how I started reading a massive book based on a movie that did it no justice. ‘For Colored Girls’ was the opposite which I read BEFORE the movie and felt the movie DID do it justice ONLY if you knew what was going on because you read the book.

    Long comment short- it can work both ways…

  • kianys says:

    The best movie you’ll ever see is the one in your head when reading a fascinating novel. I totally agree with you. I have always been disappointed with novels turned into movies, but than again they don’t have a shot in hell at getting it right, because they are not inside my head and they can’t see the grand pictures I’m seeing. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and congrats on making f.p. 🙂

  • My word, this is a fabulous post indeed. My feelings in a bottle. I think it’s horrible the way they mess up books, cut corners, change names and try and change the plot just to improve the film. There are few books that have been turned into films sucsessfuly, and they are ‘The Lord of the Rings’ and… and… and that’s it.

    And about Eragon? Fabulous book. Terrible film. I nearly cried and was cringing throughout.

  • I agree with this, my mother wouldn’t let me see the Lord of The Rings movies until i read the book, which in turn means i have to read The Hobbit(which i am curently in the process of reading), I am glad she made me do this helps me pass the time when i have borderline insomniac night. I also play many video games, so whenever a book related to one of my favorite games I am always sure to pick it up and learn some lore about the game. I honestly don’t wish to see the LoTR movie anymore since my imagination has allowed me to create my own Hobbit movie in my imagination.

  • drakonig says:

    Totally agree with you. Every time I see a book based movie I’m dissappointed. Firstly, seldomly do characters and places look anywhere near what the book description led me to imagine, and secondly, the stories are brutally mutilated sometimes beyond recognition. But I guess that worse than the movies are the people who actually think they can “critique” the books based solely on what they half saw in the movies. Those are the worst literary criminals of all.

  • Trivi says:

    I agree with you completely. Reading a book makes us creat a different world in our mind. A fascinating book will create a fascinating story in our mind. When made into a movie, we are being shown the same story from the director’s or Screenwriter’s perspective, which doesn’t coincide with our own feeling/emotions when we read the book. Besides Novels are written from the perspective of inner feeling. Movie Screenplays are written a visual perspective.

  • Nice post!

    I grew up lost in the pages of books, roamed the world in black inks letting imagination ran wild and color them like rainbows. Nothing beats reading for me. I sometimes detest how a book is presented into a movie, cutting out too much plots, but then again, sometimes it’s good to see real life scenes of favorite characters.

    I still prefer books though.

  • I just think they try to squeeze so much of a story into a movie. Most books could span over two or three movies. I’m terrified to see what Hollywood has in store for us with Hunger Games.

  • I just love your post and totally agree!
    My poor husband is more of a movie fan and I am definately the book lady who reads in the car leaving him to drive with the radio as company. I get really frustrated too when people watch the movie and then comment on the authors work not realising the stuff ups and assumptions they have made when it is the movie’s fault not the books!
    I grew up in an underprivelaged town in coastal Australia. And what I remember my mum doing was after a book had been recycled by the 5 of us kids she would then give it to another family who couldn’t afford to buy it. Initially she shoved books down our throats and then after a while would take us all for library trips because she couldn’t keep up with us. (Don’t worry our age generation was a not very commmon attitude in the town! We were the “bookies”)
    Books are a world that I don’t want to finish. And I am sadly more personally into paper copies. Nothing beats a books with pages that you can turn.
    Will be following you after such a great post (and sticky beaking on the rest!)
    Nikki 🙂

    • R. H. Culp says:

      Thanks so much. I love your story about growing up as a bookie. I have a strong affinity for Australia lately as it’s an Australian magazine that’s publishing my first short story. I look forward to having you around.

  • I’m pretty sure we are sadly going to see that happen (Ender’s Game)

    http://io9.com/5844789/the-enders-game-movie-puts-out-casting-calls-for-10-characters–including-ender .

    I hope that something comes up and we never have to see it! Ender is ten years old :(. Why couldn’t they have used the tech in Avatar to make him look like his age is supposed to be?

    I personally love books, and don’t have enough time to read them as much as I wish I could. Books are the most amazing thing that humanity has ever created, a way to share stories that are so intense so real and harmonize with our existance. They cause us to think in ways that we may have never thought before. You are justified in believing that movies can ruin books. (Cough Eragon. I agree. My grandmother could not read Eragon because she watched the movie first it eschewed the entire experience for her)
    We need to re-energize the book and give it to our children in a way that they can read it and enjoy it. We don’t need to simplify the novel we need to give it to them as is so they can experience worlds besides this dark and tormenting one we call home.
    There are so many beautiful novels that are not given the light of day.

    Let’s fix this.

    • R. H. Culp says:

      What depressingly coincidental timing. It’s a movie I’m definitely rooting against, especially since I think it falls into that category of books that engage people who don’t often read because some says “you have to read this book.”

      • Yes! It is definatly one of those, I own all four of the quartet and am avidly waiting for the final two releases in the shadow saga! I cannot wait until they come out. I love Orson and I really really hope something comes up and saves him from the bees.

  • newsy1 says:

    I almost always say “the book is way better than the movie.” Hollywood is so money driven and (lazy) that they figure they have a captured audience due to the popularity of a book. When a movie gets a less than stellar audience in some cases they just don’t get why? It’s cheaper for them to hire someone to write a screenplay based on a book than an original work (I only know this through a friend screenwriter.) Their bottom line rules–the consumer loses.

  • MasterMind secret of LOA says:

    Your questions are important ones and I tend to agree with you that I have not liked many of the movies made from books for I always found them a tad different and not true to the written word… which is a difficult thing to accomplish in any case. I suppose being a reader (and a writer)
    things are different for us but I feel if a kid’s not gonna read a book anyways .. he might as well be empowered with its message through the movie. The important thing is that kids need to be empowered to think in a positive way and if books won’t cut it for them ..then let the movie be allowed to complete the job. Its just a different medium of instruction.
    We do know for a fact that learning can be equally effective visually.

  • Jay Swanson says:

    After reading the same comment twenty times in different structures I just wanted to say congrats on the FP post man.

    And to be sure, at least LOTR was done decently (save Faramir and the Ents… man that pisses me off still).

  • Great post! I too would so rather read and get lost in the world the author created than watch a two hour movie version. Movies are great when they are original. People need to read more, the details that are in books are so intense that sometimes can’t translate into onscreen magic.

  • Gnstr says:

    Thank God the world still has some sensible people in it. Pheewww! Sooo relieved, feel reborn.

  • I agree with you on many points; however I do believe we are missing the underlying problem. It is the speed of today’s society. I absolutely love reading, to the extent that I carry a book around with me wherever I go. I do this for two reasons, the first is because we spend a great deal of our time waiting; waiting for a haircut, waiting in a line, waiting for a friend to show up for coffee. The second and the most important reason is because I love the worlds created by the authors, and to be quite honest I dread reaching the end of a book.

    I also agree, Enders Game should never see the big screen, but it is the younger generation’s craving for instant satisfaction that has turned amazing novels into terrible visual cliff notes. I know many people who are in such hurry and have such a busy life, they can’t even afford the two hours to go to a movie and be released from this reality.

  • Zookie says:

    I almost never see a movie made from a book I dearly love. It started when I was young with The Wizard of Oz. I read several of Oz books, and loved them so much! Then I saw the movie (as an adult–I know, where was I my whole life?) and I despised it. The shoes were SILVER, people, SILVER!
    And it’s continued with most other books. Like most others, I did love the LOTR movies, though.
    I will say that If it weren’t for some books being made into movies, I would never have heard of the book and would have missed out on it. Recently that happened with Water for Elephants. That book is an excellent read! But I never would have heard of it if it weren’t for Robert Patinson, ha ha! Will I see the movie? Not on your life.

  • spartanfan22 says:

    I agree with you. I have been reading since I was small child. I used to get in trouble at home because I was reading when I wasn’t supposed to. It makes me sad that people would rather “save time” by watching the movies, rather than reading the books. Did you ever see the animated version of the BFG? I loved it as a kid. I’m sort of excited see what Dreamworks does with it. But now, I think I will read the book first!

  • anushukla says:

    Very true. I never watch a movie based on classics because nothing can substitute the richness of written words. This generation will never know how books can take us into another world, the sheer magic of words woven together into a rich tapestry of feelings….the joys the sorrows felt by the characters can not be expressed by the actors on silver screen in two hours. How can you cram a book of one thousand pages like ‘Gone With The Wind’ in to three hours of a movie.

  • Movie adaptations of books can be good–but they can be mediocre and outright terrible, too. Depends on the writer/director. These movies can encourage reading, though–a lot of kids picked up Tolkien because of the films. Truth is I love both movies and books 🙂

  • Livi says:

    I don’t think there is anything wrong with making film adaptions-I think the problem is that the average person watches the movie and doesn’t go read the book. Our culture has lost the ability to appreciate books. It’s more of an individual character problem rather than than a film industry problem. If we did read the books, there would probably still be movie adaptions, and nobody would mind…

  • yintibbies says:

    I totally agree with you for my own tastes and preferences.

    I have one minor caveat to add to your post: I have a child who has Autism and because of her particular learning differences she just can not ‘see’ the story in her head when she reads. Because she saw the movie she is able to visualize the characters, the setting, the scenery, and even the action sequences to some extent. That helped her read the book and understand it. She ended up reading the entire series 3 times. She was, at the time, stuck reading 3rd grade books due to the complexity of the more advanced books. She was in 6th grade at the time. So I guess even if the movie sucks it is helpful for some people.

    PS After reading the book, my daughter told me that she liked the book MUCH better than the movie! YAY!

  • In terms of children reading, I honestly feel that a child picking up a book before or after seeing a movie has more to do with the home environment, how the child is raised, and whether or not they are already predisposed to reading.

    For example, as a child, I watched the hell out of The Dark Crystal, The Neverending Story, The Princess Bride, and Bakshi’s version of The Lord of the Rings. I started reading at a young age but never would have dreamed that these amazing movies had actually sprung up from books – until I was old enough to sit through the credits and see that “based on the book by…” line. As soon as I found out, I went crazy trying to find copies of the books and devoured them. But… my parents are readers. We had a lot of books at home. And they started me reading when I was very young. So, it seemed natural to me to read something, even (especially?) if I saw the movie first.

    It’s actually become a really interesting experience for me to read something first and then see how Hollywood chooses to interpret the source material. More often than not, I’m dreadfully disappointed, but in some cases the source material is improved upon (How to Train Your Dragon, for example), or at least presented in such a way as to make me reconsider my original interpretation of the book.

    Are children or young adults approaching films and books the same way I do? I honestly don’t know. I’m a teacher, and I have encountered kids who read, watch, or do both. Either way, they are talking about the things they’ve read, or seen, or comparing them when they’ve read and watched, and that’s really nice to see – especially when you hear so much about how “kids today” are illiterate, or don’t know how to communicate about the things they’ve absorbed.

    I prefer to read, and I certainly prefer to read before watching, but I also like the alternate interpretation that is provided (sometimes) by film versions, and whenever it’s possible I try to get my students to read the book first and then culminate the lesson in a “movie night.” It engages them on different levels, but I hope it at least fosters some sense that the source material is usually more in-depth…

    • R. H. Culp says:

      I love that you use adapted books as a chance to start a discussion. Adaptations aren’t going away, and even if they didn’t, all our problems wouldn’t be fixed. Having conversations about it and weighing pros and cons is a great way move forward and bring the issues to light. Thanks for your input!

  • businessfeedreviews says:

    Totally agree, the book is always better than the movie.

  • You pretty much took the words out of my mouth! I also have another, more selfish, reason for disliking book adaptations. For me it sometimes lessens that personal experience of books. It takes the picture that I’ve created in my head and generalizes it for a mass audience. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy these movies (when studios get them right), but a little part of me is sad when I lose that private world I’ve created.

  • I must say that overall, movies probably lead more people to the books than otherwise. What often happens is that a movie catapults a story into more notoriety, making people aware of its existence. Even if a tiny fraction of these newly informed people actually sit down and read the book, when you add in the people who already read the book or who would read it regardless, there’s still more people reading.

  • I feel the same way too! and very glad to see i’m not all alone out there. I used to tell my sister that she should read the HP series and this was always her answer. However, THIS summer I finally managed to convince (read bribe) her to read the entire series – she is hooked! And she loves the movies too. Wish this would happen more often though.

    Great read! 🙂

  • I completely agree with you all! I really don’t think that many movie adaptations drive people, and children especially to read.

    I must admit though, I do get excited though when I hear that a book I really enjoyed is being adapted into a movie. It’s really half cringe and half excitement. The excited part of me wants to get into the story again, and really compare – did they do it as well? Did they butcher ‘my’ characters but, since I have a great deal of non-reader friends it also gets me excited to finally have others see this story and then chat about their opinons outside of my book club.

    The cringe half comes from how often they miss the mark. More times than I can count the movie version has just missed the mark and has left me with a sour taste of what was a great story. I don’t do it often but three of the more recent movies I have wanted to either walk out of before they ended or switch off the TV were books…

    Books and movies are two different worlds and they are hard to mix. Books allow for deep character development and exploration where as movies can only do so much in the short time they have.

    Overall – I’m a sucker and will continue to watch some of my favorite stories on the big screen but my expectations have been dropping overtime…

  • Oh man…Timeline was such an awful movie! I couldn’t sit still! Loved the book though. The first movie adaptation that disappointed me was From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. (I feel slightly old now.( LOTR was great even though some parts were cut out from the books and I loved Stardust (movie), now I need to read the book. I think there are some people that read the books after seeing the movies..it really varies. Do you think that with the digital book movement more people might read books that movies were based on?

    Anyway, with all these adaptations, it seems as though Hollywood has officially run out of ideas

    • R. H. Culp says:

      It’s interesting that you bring up eReaders because as I’ve been reading through these posts I’ve officially become a supporter. I love books, and I don’t yet own an eReader (though with the Kindle’s new prices, I will soon), but I’ve heard so many people mention convenience as an obstacle to reading. If it’s as big a problem as it sounds, then why not do everything we can to accommodate people by cutting out the trip to the bookstore, or the wait for a shipped book, or the weight and space while traveling, etc. It’s something I’m going to continue thinking about, and I have a note written down to blog about it at some point in the future.

      • I think convenience is becoming more of an excuse these days, though there are always exceptions. People have been carrying around books for how many years now? Although, I admit that comic books (Peanuts, C&H, etc.) with their weirdly big sizing are harder to carry around. I would like to see what you come up with and if there ends up being a correlation between ebooks and movie adaptations


  • Lou Lou says:

    Great post – it’s like you read my mind! There’s only been one film I’ve seen that has lived up to the book, and that was The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. Not many other films even come close to the experience and feeling of reading the book.

  • Caroline says:

    I agree with you. So many times people make a movie based on a book just because it was popular. Why can’t the book remain just a book? I’ve gone to Harry Potter movies and hear people say, ‘Gosh, maybe I should read the book.’ However, I don’t think all children are focused to movies. As a teacher, I’ve asked students which they liked better the book or movie and most state book. Books are magical and don’t need a million dollar production to make others enjoy it.

  • dwachal says:

    There is something special about reading a story and seeing the “movie” that plays in your imagination. Whenever I watch a movies based on a book I’ve previously read… it never matches up to what my imagination has already created.

  • itsokaytorant says:

    there is a magical realm in reading books rather than watching it on the silver screen..and yes movie adaptations makes the kids lazy to go over those magical pages.:)

  • samanthagf says:

    First, I love Ender’s Game… Movies never do justice to incredibly captivating characters and the different dimensions seen throughout a good book. Books are engrossing, enlightening, and bring forth imagination in ways we did not know existed. There is something special about reading. While cinematography has its own special qualities, the imagination can take us to places no movie can. I love to read 🙂

  • If it weren’t for the movie adaptation of “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” I never would’ve read the book. (I am speaking of the Swedish adaptations, though David Fincher’s does look good.)

  • It’s a crying shame that reading is a lost art in young people (did I really just say ‘young people?’ I’m only 37 for God’s sake!

    They read when they have to for school and have no interest in reading for pleasure. I remember the days or waiting for mum and dad to go to bed so I could turn on my torch and continue through the adventures of Enid Blyton’s ‘Famous Five’ series, or the ‘Trixie Belden’ adventures under the covers of my bed. Reading until my eyes were sore and stinging, but wanting so desperately to know ‘what happens next…’ until finally finishing the book, or giving up at 3 or 4am.

    It’s a pleasure not to be matched and I hope (somehow) to instill it in my boy – beginning with never, ever getting cable TV, or allowing a TV of any kind in his bedroom. As parents, its our responsibility not to let the magical world of books and reading die with our generation.

  • SandySays1 says:

    According to my human, he’s been told at screen writer classes, that a movie adapted from a book equates to 90-120 pages of the book. That’s a ROUGH estimate, but unless you’re looking at a relatively short novella a lot of the story doesn’t even make it to the cutting room floor. Personally, my narrow canine mind develops images from the printed page that are unique to me. The representations have a better chance of disappointing or even angering me than providing enjoyment.

  • One of the worst book to movie deals ever, in my opinion, was Neverending Story. If you’ve read the book, don’t see the movie. If you’ve seen the movie, even if you hated it, read the book. That is an incredible book and a crappy movie. The movie doesn’t even end where the book does, but somewhere in the middle.

    There have also been some poor Hitchhiker’s Guide attempts. The original, more verbatim, one is cheap and long, but so bad it could be funny. The latest Hitchhiker’s movie I thought was a success, a success because it didn’t even try to really follow the letter of the book, but more the zany spirit of the book.

    Sometimes, I think movie adaptations can add things, can, in ways, be better, in a different way. Perfect example, The Shining. The Shining is a great book and a brilliant movie, so long as you realize both are two totally separate things, which maybe shouldn’t even be compared to each other. They have different focuses, different styles. Both present madness, maybe the fear of oneself manifested through cabin fever. but in completely different visceral attacks. (I could say the same about Lolita, and Eyes Wide Shut, to their respective novels). Kubrik didn’t render a faithful copy, rather took the idea and portrayed it in his own brilliant way.

    Sometimes, I think, movies encourage reading, from comic books to novels. Because of Ironman, I went and read Demon in the Bottle. I didn’t see Watchmen, until I’d read it first. and I wouldn’t go see the Lord of the Rings movies, until I’d read the books from start to finish again (since it’d been so long).

    I guess I don’t think movie adaptations cause too much harm because, at least for me, it’s a cardinal rule that the book is always better. When it comes to the idea of kids not reading these days, I don’t point to movies, but rather to cell phones and internet and video games.

  • Krud (@Krud) says:

    Sadly, some stories will only find a certain audience in movie form. I consider myself well read, and a fan of fantasy and sci-fi novels, but I simply could not get into The Lord of The Rings books. So much so that I was initially reluctant to see the movies. But then I saw the movies, and enjoyed them enough to give the books another try. But I still wasn’t able to adequately lose myself in them. (I hate admitting this, as I feel it somehow besmirches my alleged Geek Cred, but it’s true.) And I liked the first Shrek movie, but would never rave about the children’s book upon which it was “based.”

    Having said this, however, both the Hitchhiker’s Guide movie and the Cat In The Hat movie need to be rated R just so kids don’t get the wrong impression of these stories. =P (I’m exaggerating. Maybe.)

    As for the Harry Potter movies? I still can’t fathom how anyone can even make sense of them without having already read the books…

  • Zina says:

    I’m not patient to read 400+ comments so I may be retreading what someone else has said–but I didn’t see this in the first 10 comments, anyway.

    My mom works at a library and she says every time a movie based on a book comes out, there’s a huge run on that book at the library. Often they have to order lots more copies to accommodate demand. So, while there will always be those people who will watch a movie but not read a book, for those who DO read, movies actually increase readership.

    I do agree that reading is a different experience from movie-watching. I like both mediums, and sometimes I think a book is well-suited to a film. (In fact I think the Twilight movies are much better than the books (not that that’s saying much). Other times I’d really rather a book not be ruined by adaptation. But I’m not always opposed.

    • R. H. Culp says:

      We were lucky enough to have several librarians raise this point and it really encourages me. I have two questions about this that I don’t have the answer to. First, are the people seeking out the books people who wouldn’t already be reading or are they just reading a different book than they otherwise would be? And second, does having a film made from a book increase sales and readership of a book over its lifetime or just while the movie is coming out? My impression is that a few years later, most people remember the movies and not the books (E.T., Jaws, Jurassic Park, Shrek, Schindler’s List [I’m just realizing that Spielberg has something of a habit of this]). Thoughts?

  • kleger says:

    Yeah, I read all the time, I even got A LOT of books out from the library, One time I maxed out my card and had to use my moms, but I was getting all the Harry Potter books and some others. It that month, I was able to finish the HP books (2-6) and a few of the others. When we went back, I was REALLY excited to get number 7 and I was checking the site every day, and I was like, “If two books leave the library everyday, I’m not going to be able to get one” But they had like 22 copies at the HQ library. But Now I’m waiting because I put a brand new book on hold, (Started a new series) and I absolutely can’t wait to go get it.

    But I like to watch the movies, and read the books, it’s just if you read the books, you get to know the charters more. Like in Twilight, if a vampire bites a werewolf, it dies. I was reading Breaking Dawn a second time, and when I got to that part, I was like, “I don’t remember that” and so yeah, I’m gonna stop now, before I end up having a whole post, probably. :/

  • Hiya, I am really glad I’ve found this information. Nowadays bloggers publish just about gossips and internet and this is actually irritating. A good site with exciting content, that’s what I need. Thank you for keeping this website, I’ll be visiting it. Do you do newsletters? Can not find it.

    • R. H. Culp says:

      If you go to the home page you can subscribe by email and receive an update whenever a new post is up (mostly Sundays and Wednesdays. Or you can like me on Facebook or follow me on twitter (or any combination thereof) because all of my blog posts will be pushed out through those venues as well. Thanks.

  • Ariel Price says:

    I try to have an open mind about books made into movies. It’s a completely different story-telling medium and some things are just going to have to be different. Sometimes it’s still a great story even if it’s missing little details. However, I agree that sometimes the movies fail to do a good book justice.

  • I agree completely. I always walk into movies where I am a fan of the books, and I always over analyze the movie, comparing it too closely to the book. The latest movie I saw where I did this was the Australian film, “Tomorrow When The War Began”.

  • Ermilia says:

    I can’t tolerate movie adaptations either. No matter how good the movie is, it just does not compare. Ella Enchanted, I literally turned it off in the middle and returned the DVD I was so disappointed. Harry Potter, The Princess Bride, good movies in their own rights, but I love the books so much more. I don’t think the movies get people to read the books, because the books would feel so slow after watching a movie just by the nature of each medium.

  • realanonymousgirl2011 says:

    There is so much missed when you watch a movie. The book has so much more to offer. I really hope they do the Hunger Games series some justice. I love reading and I always try to read the book before I watch the movie because I know it’ll never happen vice versa. Currently, I’m reading the Help even though I’ve been dying to see the movie. And recently I watched Something Borrowed which was a horrible movie and apparently they’re making a sequel. My friend brought it to my attention that there’s a book so she bought it for me. I really hope its better than the movie. Don’t ever go to see that as a date movie. Not one character is likable even Ginnifer Goodwin who is such a doll!

  • It’s some sort of paradox. I mean, create a movie based on a book, make sometimes people go to see the movie, because the heard the name (something like “What’s that Harry Potter” or so).
    So then, yeah, many people who would not read the book, go to see the movie and yeah, maybe a small part of it is tented to go and buy the book.
    But on the other hand, some people, already attracted by the book, end up going to the movie theater to see a movie, that, adapted from a book, is incomplete; and so, many people who went to see the movie but not read the book, have clear in their minds that the name (let’s say Narnia, for a terrible example) is crap, tat if the movie is bad, the book should be worse.
    Is not that way, but a not-book lover, would easily think that.

  • graciehart1 says:

    I actually don’t mind when books are made into movies, providing it’s done well. There’s nothing worse than when a great book turns into a terrible movie. That said, I do think sometimes movies can draw people to the books they are based on. I myself have read several books after seeing the movies and wanting to compare the two.

  • Heidi says:

    I agree that this generation has become extremely lazy when it comes to many things, and this definitely includes reading, but I’m not quite certain the movies are to blame. I have a feeling that these stories would just go unheard altogether by most if not put into movie form. But laziness is not the only reason these stories go unheard. There are people for whom it takes more than just hours to experience even simple stories. For some it takes days, weeks, or months of slowly plugging away at a story, and not because they’re lazy, but because their brains are developed in a way that doesn’t allow them to read at a speed that keeps an exciting story exciting: Dyslexia, ADD, ADHD etc. Reading can be an excruciatingly tedious endeavor. My husband can read a thrilling tail in a night or two. It took me 2 weeks on vacation reading constantly to finish a Harry Potter book, a series I love. We are a minority, and our society at large has a laziness problem, but I really enjoy being able to experience a story like “Lord of the Rings” which is extremely daunting to read.

    • R. H. Culp says:

      I have to agree with both your points. If all book-adapted movies disappeared today, I still don’t think that hordes of people would be driven to libraries. As a society we systematically choose not to emphasize the importance or enjoyment of reading and book adaptations are only a part or symptom of that. I also agree that it’s not just laziness that prevents everyone from reading. There was a great comment earlier from the mother of an autistic child. Her son has trouble picturing things in his head so books were near impossible for him, but after the Harry Potter movies came out, it gave him all the leg-up he needed to tackle (and love) the books. Unfortunately there’s no easy answer to all this. Thanks for the comment!

  • Your excellent article triggered a memory about students who didn’t like to/want to read: sometimes the only way to get those high school students to read books was to combine the book reading with the movie watching. It didn’t matter which order–the reading first or the watching first–but the extra credit came from the final step, writing the “Dirty Dozen”–citing and explaining least twelve specific differences between the book and the movie, and defending the opinion of which was better.

    Sometimes we have to do what we can to get students to read carefully, watch closely, and evaluate.

    Thank you for this article.
    Marylin Warner

  • Tanichca says:

    Agreed! I grew up with the knowledge that the only way to survive being bored was to read, but nowadays, kids can just turn on the TV or Computer, and sit and let their brains turn to cottage cheese.

  • KatT says:

    simple. AMEN.
    Twilight i must say is the worst done that i have seen

  • dzul says:

    I agreed with what you wrote about we easily spoon-fed our children with the silver-screen book-tied movies. But, for my opinion (for myself), I’d love to watch the movies which based on the books that I read.

    In which I can use my imagination earlier while reading those books and comparing them with what they (the producers & directors) see to make it into film. I really-really enjoys that feeling.

    But honestly, I watched the trilogy of LOTR but still I didn’t read their books yet. And to tell the truth, I will read it and try to make the comparison again but this time it will be the other way round and guess what? This will be the first time I’m doing it, and will let you know about my opinion.

  • David Heil says:

    ROB! Congrats on your blog. This is pretty awesome. However, I have to disagree with you.

    I totally understand the concern about movies killing books, and some movies just being bad. Like really, really, really bad. Beowulf comes to mind. HOWEVER, I don’t think movies are the root of kids not reading as much, it’s video games and a lot of other aspects of a digital world. And some books are not for everyone. I have tried to sit down and read Lord of the Rings, and Harry Potter. I got about 3/4 of the way through Lord of the Rings and about lost my mind to Tolkien and his ridiculous attention to detail. It was too much, for me. And Harry Potter, I read to about book 4 and then just lost interest because I couldn’t identify with Harry anymore, he was just too whinny.

    That all being said. There is something magical, in my opinion, of seeing one’s favorite book, brought to life on the silver screen. SO long as it was done correctly, and with the intent to do the book justice, and not just make easy money. There are so many movies based off a book or comic book because it is easy. Someone else has already thought up the story line, they just have to turn it into a screen write. But to see someone else’s rendition of the movie that went on in my head while I watched it always fascinated me. Though, everything is a movie inside my head. Music, books, poems. Anything I hear or read, my brain translates it into something “visual” inside me head. Probably why I’m in the industry i’m in. It’s funny you brought up Ender’s Game, because I would LOVE to see it made into a movie. However, I would probably have to direct/ produce it, otherwise it just won’t be done right. 😉

    And I could go on and on about this. I think this would be a great subject to talk about in person, over a pint. If I ever make it back up to the inland northwest.

    • R. H. Culp says:

      Thanks for the comment Dave. I understand where you’re coming from, and you’re right, these are great stories, which is why they are taken by Hollywood. I just wish the people who wanted to know how the Harry Potter story ends couldn’t bail on the series half way through and just watch the movie instead.

  • Caro says:

    The old “movies vs. books” battle is a really popular cultural trope, but I honestly think it’s a complete fiction. (No pun intended.) Books and film are two totally different media. I think it does happen that enjoyment of a particular book draws viewers to a film, and seeing a great film may draw readers to the book, but neither medium can “steal” consumers away from the other. As I said, they’re very different ways of telling a story, and while many people happen to enjoy both art forms, some people just happen to be drawn toward one or the other.

  • vandysnape says:

    I have mixed feelings about movies adapted from books.. On one hand , I am quite eager to see the characters in my mind take a “2-D form” ! But on the other hand , it is quite frustrating to see the books being butchered ..I guess we need to change to the phrase to “Don’t judge a book by its cover”!

  • vandysnape says:

    * oops I meant to “Don’t judge a book by its movie”!

  • eonstevens says:

    I don’t hate books being turned into movies. What I hate is that the people who turn it into movies make it to a point wherein anybody who might watch the movie will either: 1) Hate the movie completely which in turn leads to hating the book as well or 2) Love the movie that they forget that it was based on a well written book. Sometimes, turning a book into a movie is also good because people will have a picture on what a particular scene should look like. My friend, for example, was having a hard time picturing The Haunted Forest in a Game of Thrones, so she decided to take a glimpse on the first episode of Game of Thrones (TV Series) so that she’d have a clear picture of what The Haunted Forest looks like. And sometimes, adaptations help make the book more famous. It brings audience to a particular scenario wherein they ask themselves: “Okay, the movie was good, but the book might better.”

    • R. H. Culp says:

      I totally agree. Sometimes I think it’s worse when the movie is so good that people forget there was a book (Jaws, Shrek, ET, Jurassic Park).

      • eonstevens says:

        I agree with you. But I think I know why it happens. Sometimes, when they search the book, then eventually buy it, and they start to read the first page, they found themselves bored to death. Probably because they already know the story or because they can’t relate with the story.

  • LaureeOhOhOh says:

    I’m with you. No matter how much I can enjoy a movie based on a book as a MOVIE, I can never appreciate it as a ‘piece’ of the book’s legacy.

    Ender’s Game, oh, how I share your fear! If they manage to ruin that work of literary wonder, I will never look at a screen again.

  • often movies do not do the book justice, a different “feel” and “atmosphere” is brought to the table and often they dont work in favor of the elements of the book its based on. Good post

  • risingbharat says:

    Well i believe it is true in some cases and in some cases it is not. JRR Tolkein’s Lord of the rings was a humongous book and it spent quite a bit of the time explaining lunch,dinner and breakfast for the travelers which after a while became annoying. But books like Jurassic park or Da Vinci code were too fast paced so the movies appeared rushed. Movies which match the stunning visual imaginations of the books are good . I would say Peter Jackson stunningly recreated the world of middle earth for the movie. same goes with Spielberg . hence I believe the directors need to believe in the vision of the author rather than having studios direct with puppets like Michael Bay or Brett rattner

  • […] R.H. Culp wrote an intriguing post that touches on books-made-into-films: […]

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