Books have been made into movies since the dawn of time. Well not quite, but as long as movies have been entertaining the masses they have been drawing from the wide world of literature. There has been a butt load of discussion about it recently with the movie release of the Great Gatsby. It’s very easy to dismiss a book versus movie argument with an arrogant wave of the hand and assurance that the movie did not really capture the feel of the book. But there are several books that I would argue vehemently have a greater impact as a movie than they do as books (several by Nicholas Sparks come to mind). I think the reason we tend to connect more to the stories when we read them is because we can picture them the exact way we want them to be pictured. In a movie you are watching someone else’s ideal interpretation of the story and if it doesn’t line up with yours it can be disappointing.
But what if we thought about it as Movie vs Book rather than Book vs Movie?
I recently found the movie, The Painted Veil on Amazon Instant Video and really liked it. The story is compelling and Edward Norton and Naomi Watts are excellent. I later read that the movie was based on the book and so I read it, and without mincing words really, truly, and desperately hated it. I won’t include a spoiler here, because I do suggest that you watch the movie, but the differences between the endings are vastly different. Somehow in the interpretation from one medium to another the relationship between the lead characters changed drastically. More importantly, I was angry at the book for having characters that I really hated rather than being angry that the movie didn’t stay true to the book it was supposed to be based on. This brings me to the question, is it really more about the story we experience first, rather than the story we like better? I would argue yes, the story we experience first sets our expectations. Because people generally experience the book first the argument is skewed toward book is better than movie.