Seeing books travel onto the big screen is always exciting — from classics such as “The Great Gatsby,” to the upcoming Percy Jackson tv series — but, as I’m sure my fellow book lovers will understand, I usually feel a twinge of disappointment leaving the theater.
Here are a few reasons why books will always outshine their movie counterparts.
This is where many fans struggle, when films stray from the source material.
Any Harry Potter fan laughs at the memes of the “calmness” of Dumbledore in the Goblet of Fire movie versus the book, but there truly is nothing more disappointing than when the movie retelling of your favorite book gets the characters and the scenes wrong.
While we can’t expect producers to find the perfect match to every character in a movie adaptation, and changes to characteristics like hair and eye color, race, and sexuality are not relevant to the storyline, keeping the scenes accurate should be a top priority.
- Missing plot
Sometimes there are plot points for a character’s development or story arc that are completely skipped over, like Tris’s death in “Allegiant,” a scene that was completely skipped over in the movie.
It constantly seems as though the scenes I am most excited to see don’t make the cut on the big screen, which can really kill the joy in seeing the adaptation in the first place.
However, this phenomenon of “not sticking to the original script” doesn’t just happen in movies, as one might assume. It can also be found in musicals and plays.
For example, the musical “Wicked” is an adaptation of the book by Gregory Maguire.
As good as the musical is, it skips over so many scenes of Elphaba’s journey and completely changes the dark, heartfelt ambience of the book, even going as far as to change the ending.
Of course, they can’t keep every scene from the books or the movies, as it would take all day to watch. I, however, would definitely sacrifice a day to see an uncut, accurate adaptation of any of my favorite books.
- Characters’ thoughts and emotions
Unlike in books, in movies a character can’t outright tell us what they’re thinking, which can lead to a character’s thoughts and emotions being lost in translation.
They can add narration, like Nick Carraway does in the beginning and end of “The Great Gatsby,” but that is rarely done well, unless you’re Morgan Freeman.
You can’t truly know what a character is thinking as he stares at the raindrops on a dark window, reminiscent of his lost lover’s eyes.
The glances and movements meant to illustrate these thoughts and emotions can’t portray them as well as well-strung words can.
There are many actors that show them very well, but it is still just acting, and does not measure up to the extent of thoughts that are revealed in a first person point-of-view novel.
One thing that will never be able to travel from books to their movie counterparts is the poetry of the writing.
Scenes where an author can take a full page to paint the picture will only last, at most, a few seconds on the screen. Those visuals lose the weight they had in the books, and some important information and foreshadowing the words give to the readers.
Take one of my favorite books, “The Wise Man’s Fear.” While it doesn’t have a movie adaptation, if it did, the vast amount of beautiful writing would not translate at all to the screen.
The prologue is repetitious to the prologue and epilogue of the first book of the series, “The Name of the Wind,” where it takes a whole page to describe the silence of the scene.
It describes the sounds of absent things, like, “Thunder would have muttered and rumbled and chased the silence down the road like fallen autumn leaves,” and, “If there had been music… but no, of course there was no music.”
No matter how talented a director, actor, or cinematographer is, there is no way they can illustrate the poetry and power of silence like Patrick Rothfuss did in “The Wise Man’s Fear.” Any attempt wouldn’t do it justice.
Being an aspiring author myself, the little details like poetic language, a character’s thoughts, small plot points, and the characters themselves are what I obsess over in books.
I love seeing how filmmakers take on popular novels, and I can’t tell you how excited I am for the Percy Jackson show, but I will forever choose the words on the page over the silver screen.