There’s a lot of contention in the bookish community surrounding books-turned-movies, and their unfortunate lack of depth, proper characterisation and just in general, storytelling quality in comparison to the original works. It why we see the argument over watching the movie or reading the book first, and debates over watching movies being the gateway to reading books pop up out of the woodwork so often. Of course, the conclusion of every bookworm is a no-brainer. The book is always better. But ( and I can just feel the bookworm in me screaming blasphemy! right now ) really, is the book always better?
Because, I think that I personally would have to say no, and that though the movie typically only scrapes the tip of the iceberg potential-wise and the book contains an entire underwater kingdom beneath the surface, I do think it would be going a little too far to say that the book is always better.
Take one of my all-time favourite movies ( but a less than impressive book ), for example:
Narnia: Prince Caspian
While I did find C S Lewis’ Prince Caspian charming, and feel that at its time of publication it would have been up there with all the great and fresh fantasy adventures. But nowadays, with books like the Percy Jackson series around, the once-fresh-and-exciting plot seems simple and bland in comparison. For one thing, the four Pevensie’s spend half their time in Narnia exploring apple orchards in a hunt for food and catching up on everything they’ve missed the last few thousand years, and Prince Caspian’s struggle to take back his throne is sidelined; an afterthought, really. ( Not to mention, for the final battle – though I wouldn’t call it much of one, sorry C S – the girls are sidelined. So any modern children and teenaged girls reading it won’t be too impressed with the old-fashioned notion ). Whereas, in comparison, the movie starts and finishes with a bang! There’s assassination attempts, raids on enemy camps, chases through the woods, an ambush on the castle and then a final battle! Unlike the book, which is mostly all talk, Prince Caspian the movie is full of hair-raising moments for our favourite cast of kings and queens!
Which is why regrettably I admit that I much prefer the movie over the original book. The character dynamics are much more compelling, there’s a dash of romance not present in the book, and Susan and Lucy are not sidelined simply for wearing dresses instead of trousers! In fact, Lucy plays the most crucial role in the final battle by locating Aslan and enlisting his help in defeating the Telmarines!
So while you may be hard-pressed to find a bookworm willing to admit that books aren’t always better than their movies, just know that very rarely the magic of the big screens, celebrities and Hollywood comes together in such a way that they take the cake.
What do you think about the saying ‘the book is always better’? Have you watched any movies and liked them better than their books?