The Book is Better… Most of the Time

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By Dante Troina
Staff Writer

The Golden Compass was such a terrible movie, I didn’t bother reading the book. That is the problem often times when a book is turned into a movie. In most situations, movies don’t live up to expectations created by the book. There are many prime examples of books that have been turned into terrible films.
For every book that is made into a great film, such as The Lord of the Rings Trilogy or The Harry Potter Series, there are just as many that are adapted to screen, and don’t share the same success.
Percy Jackson: The Lightning Thief was everyone’s favorite book in my fifth and sixth grade elementary school classes, and I remember going on a field trip to the theatre as a class to go see the first film when it came out. What I remember most however is leaving the theatre and, for the first time, I’d had a terrible experience. The mess of the movie that is The Lightning Thief made me realize that not all great books are as great in movie form.
English Teacher Linnaea Troina believes that the film wasn’t even comparable to the novel.
“I was very excited to take my fifth and sixth grade class to see The Lightning Thief, but after seeing the movie, I didn’t even feel like I had just watched a film based on the book,” said Troina.
Junior Largim Zhuta, who loves watching and analyzing films, thought that The Lightning Thief didn’t capture the world in the same way the book did.
“There’s something about the movie that just doesn’t make you care as much, it doesn’t set up or get you interested in the world.”
There are many other films that pale in comparison to the book.
Junior Sarah Kuharich claimed that Ender’s Game film lacked value in characters.
“When I watched the movie, I was immediately turned off to it, because of the fact that it didn’t have the same characterization that the book did,” Kuharich said.
Some books turn out as better movies, which people mainly seem to think is a direct result of great characterization, but also, it’s a result of movies sticking to the books. Films often get criticized for not developing the characters as well as the books do, and also not capturing what the novel was about.
Junior Luke Reynolds, who wants to be a scriptwriter in the future, gave many examples about books that have been adapted into films very well.
“Obviously there are films such as The Lord of the Rings Trilogy and The Harry Potter Series that have done it better than others,” said Reynolds. “But there are more examples, like The Martian and The Wolf of Wall Street that are very great adaptations.”
Zhuta and Reynolds also gave insight on what makes a good film.
“What makes a good book into a great film is likable characters, while having them look and act accurate to what their on page counterparts do.”
Reynolds agreed with Zhuta, then talked about how the setting is important as well.
“Also, what is important is the universe around the characters, because if you don’t care about what is going on around your protagonist, or if it is a dull setting, then you don’t get as invested in the film,” said Reynolds.
Some luxuries that books have is that they don’t have as much time constraints when creating a universe, the author can spend as much time as they need creating a setting and evolving characters. An average length of a film is 146 minutes, which is two hours and twenty-six minutes. That means that the director has to sometimes squeeze up to ten hours worth of story and turn it into a two hour film.
Add that on top of the pressure that a fan base of a good book can generate, and that’s what an average novel-turned-film faces. There are many reasons why some films haven’t been as successful as their on page counterparts.
Taking all of this into account, it is a difficult task to turn a novel into a film, and not all novels are meant to be turned into great movies.

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