Monday, July 9, 2018


I’m behind, as always, so a rerun:

I’m a reader—although I don’t read as much I’d like to—and of course I can make all the arguments of why the book will be better than the movie, of how much more detail and texture and exposition the reader gets, how possibly more actively involved reader is than watcher. Still, having loved a book, I can love its movie, in part because I love movies and in part because I have accepted that it’s not fair to compare two entirely different media (apples and oranges).

I remember the first time I felt betrayed by a movie. (Many of my friends have heard me rant about this one.) One of my favorite books, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, had been made into a movie, for some reason called Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. I was excited to see it. I went to see it. Had the abbreviation WTF been in my vocabulary at the time, it would have been useful to describe my reaction: WTF have they done to my book?

Since then, of course, I’ve grown up and realized that books are books and movies are movies. I’ve even revisited Willy Wonka and cut everyone some slack. Still, when Johnny Depp starred in an extremely faithful-to-the-book version, I couldn’t help but feel a bit redeemed. (And yet they did add a completely unnecessary backstory for Wonka—seems everyone has to tinker.)


  1. I find myself sometimes watching the movie instead of reading the book, just because I never feel like I have enough time to fit everything in. I enjoyed the screen version of Price and Prejudice (but only the one with Colin Firth) better than the book (but only because of Colin Firth).

  2. Well, Helen, Colin Firth makes most things better. Except Mamma Mia - that's a lost cause.

    I can just imagine the child Indigo thinking "WTF?"

    I'm happy to watch a film after I've read the book, because a film can't usually ruin a book for me unless there's a terrible casting decision. I try to read the book first. I didn't with The English Patient, and the book confused me until I had to give up and accept it wasn't the story of the film. And I made sure I had read The Handmaid's Tale before the TV series began.

    1. Good point. I did not truly think "WTF" at that time.

  3. I admit to being one of those people who usually hate the film version of my favorites. For instance the film version of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe left me depressed for months. I'd followed the making of the film for over a year and expected it to be great, but it was not the movie I saw in my head when I was reading the books.

    I know it is my problem. I visualize the characters, settings, actions so vividly, nothing can possibly match what I see my mind.

    I need to think of it like you do, IB -- two different media. T

    That said, I have liked some films better than the book. Can't think of an example now, but it is true.

  4. I struggle with movie or made-for-TV adaptations too. Mostly because I used to read and reread a story over and over if I loved it, and could easily identify anytime they strayed from the original story.