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Movies vs. Books

Posted by Mariko Fujinaka in books on May 7, 2010

I have a confession to make. I like books, and I like movies, but I do not like movies based on books. I guess I should clarify—if I have read a book on which a movie is based, I almost always prefer the book. There is no snobbery or elitism involved here (and if you knew the kinds of books I generally read, you would have no doubt I am telling the truth); rather, for me, books paint a fuller picture, something a movie cannot fully accomplish. Ironic, I know, since books have words and movies have images, but books have details and nuances and, I don’t know, magic that fill the brain.

Here is an impressive and fascinating database of movies based on books. How many have you seen? Seeing a movie after I have read the book is a disappointment because I have already “seen” it in my head, and the movie can never match up, but if I see the movie first, it kind of ruins the book for me. Just glancing at the database, there are a number of movies I have seen and really enjoyed, but I never read the books on which they were based. They include After Dark, My Sweet, the 1990 film based on the Jim Thompson noir novel, and Dead Zone, the 1983 film starring Christopher Walken (!) that was based on Stephen King’s novel of the same title.

Then there are the films I didn’t completely love but that everyone I know adored, like Princess Bride and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The books were so rich and imaginative that the movies just couldn’t live up to my book-reading experiences. There are also the movies that are so different from the books on which they were supposedly based that there is no comparison to make. I saw the Bourne movies with Matt Damon and thought they were really fun, so I decided to read the books. The only similarities are that some of the character names are the same. So I was able to enjoy both. The same goes for the movie Clueless, a fun and ridiculous movie that was loosely based on Jane Austen’s Emma.

What about you? Are there any movies others liked but you didn’t because you read the books first? Movies you loved, but you hated the books?


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