Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Book v The Movie

by Jenny Hilborne
Author of mysteries and thrillers

After I've read a book and become vested in the characters, I'm often curious to see how they are portrayed in the movie, and how the story plays out on the screen. Do the characters look how I imagined them to look? Is the setting how I saw it in my mind? I hate it when the movie fails to do the book justice, and this is often the case. It's one of the reasons I rarely watch a movie first and then get the book. For me, some of the mystery and intrigue found in a book is lost on the big screen.

When I read The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, which took me 2 attempts (the first 100 pages are a brutal slog) I loved it and wanted to watch the movie. I watched the Swedish version with English subtitles, and the movie jumps about, especially at the beginning. Without knowing the story first, I'd have been lost. The parts about Millennium magazine and the libel case against Mikael Blomkvist, which the books labors over painfully for the first 100 pages, are skimped on in the movie, yet without it, the story is hard to follow. The story has a huge cast, which I found complicating in the movie, but less so because I'd read the book first and knew who they were.

Anne Frank's diary is a gripping read and a heartbreaking film. Nothing is lost in either. However,  often there are key elements in a book that are dropped in a movie, or adapted for the audience enjoyment, and it spoils the experience. I'm so focused on the missing bits, I lose interest.

Occasionally, the movie/book works in reverse. I'm not into fantasy, but I once bought a box set of Lord Of The Rings for a gift, and then borrowed it out of curiosity. What a fantastic story. I know I'll never read the book, but I loved the movie. The visual effects were a large part of the enjoyment - they don't exist in the book, and I couldn't even begin to imagine them. The same with Jane Eyre. I enjoyed the film, and the romance (surprisingly), but I'll never read the book. This is one of the films where the movie omits part of the story found in the book (I'm told). In this case, it was okay - I can only take so much romance.

Sometimes, neither the book or the movie works. I might be one of a few people who haven't read Harry Potter. I can't get into it at all. I tried to watch one of the movies - no idea which one, but it involved broomsticks. I gave up after ten minutes. Hated it.

Then there's this nonsense of Tom Cruise playing Jack Reacher. I loved Jack Reacher. Tom Cruise will spoil my image and my enjoyment of the books, so I won't bother with the movie.

We'd all love to see our own books on the big screen...wouldn't we? Or are the pictures in our heads better? What are your thoughts?


  1. I didn't read GWTDT because I knew I'd never get through a 100-page slog. But I saw the movie and liked it okay. I've only read one of the Reacher stories, so I'll see the movie (at home) just for fun.

    On the other hand, I don't worry about seeing movies about books I loved. I know they can't do them justice and I accept that. Because I rarely reread anything, it's a way to enjoy the characters again.

    For the record, I didn't read Harry Potter or watch the movies either. Just not for me.

  2. Movies rarely do the book justice. I've seen some movies that came close but since I'm horrible at remembering anything at all since I turned XX, none of them come to mind, haha! I agree, Jenny! I'd never see the Reacher movies. Tom Cruise is a huge mistake. Seeing the movie would spoil my Jack, and I can't afford for that to happen.
    Of course, I'd love to see my books on the big screen, but we'd be guaranteed right of first refusal, don't you think? We can dream...

  3. I think it must be very difficult for an author to see their book made into a movie in a way they hadn't seen when they wrote the words. In most instances, after the initial ego boost, it would be necessary to begin an emotional disconnect.

    With Hunger Games, they left out so many things in the movie that were in the book… but it had to tell the story in two hours, and they did a pretty good job. But still...

  4. If I've read the book I don't like seeing the movie because I almost always find it annoying and disappointing. Tom Cruise playing Jack Reacher? Totally bizarre! But as Lee Child said in defense at Thrillerfest, there are almost no 6-foot plus actors!

  5. I sat next to John Lescoart at a luncheon once and he told me, "If you ever sell your book's movie rights, take the money and walk away." So I guess if you're an author, you either have to insist on total control or you have to turn your back and cash that check.

    I thought the Harry Potter movies did justice to the books, and the Lord of the Rings movies brought Tolkien's trilogy to life.

    They can be hit or miss, I guess. Some of Stephen King's books translated well to the screen (Carrie, for example), and some did not.

    I won't be tuning in to see Tom Cruise as Reacher, mostly because I don't like Cruise, and the movie trailer has not converted me.

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  7. Hi,
    Even though some reviews have said that you forget that Cruise isn't 6 feet tall a few minutes into the movie I won't be watching either. I'l keep my version of Reacher in my mind. I also couldn't get into the Harry Potter books and thought I was the only one. Thanks everyone. Dee grammyd91 (at) comcast (dot) net


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