Thursday, 22 May 2008

Books versus Films

A few of the blogs that I read take part in a regular posting theme called Booking Through Thursday, which offers up a question for everybody to answer, and usually on some variation on the subject of books (naturally!) and until now I have never taken part.

This week's question caught my eye though and so I have decided to answer!

Books and films both tell stories, but what we want from a book can be different from what we want from a movie. Is this true for you? If so, what’s the difference between a book and a movie?
The main reason that this question caught my eye is because a few weeks ago I bought four films that were based on four books written by Nora Roberts, so this is a relatively fresh experience that I can bring to mind. As you may already know, I am a serious Nora Roberts fan and devour each and every book she publishes as well as reading them again and again and again!

So, when I heard that four films were being made, I was both pleased and anxious. Pleased because I could then have a visual representation of the books, anxious because I just knew that the films would be different to the books and would perhaps put me right off ever watching a "film from a book" again. (By the way, those films were Angels Fall, Montana Sky, Blue Smoke, and Carolina Moon.)

When I watched the films over the course of a weekend as I just couldn't wait, I ended up with very mixed feelings! Although I can't remember which was which now but two of the films were slightly disappointing and the other two were about right, having said that, all of the films made me want to reread and enjoy those very books again!

The two that were disappointing were so because they strayed just a little too far from the books or didn't quite convey the complex relationships in Nora's books! A common element of all films was that the producers had to edit and change or exclude bits here and there in order to make 90 minute films rather than three hour films! Now, I can understand that but it does mean that the films will never be as good as the books, they just can't be!

The two that were about right did follow the books a little more closely or were at least more true to the ethos of the books even if bits were edited out. At the end of the weekend though, I did enjoy all four films, particularly on the understanding that they just would not be the same as the books, and I think that this the point - Books and Films are two very different mediums so we shouldn't really expect the same results from them.

Above all, I expect to be entertained whether reading a book or watching a film and if neither can do that then they have failed in their purpose; not forgetting that it takes different things to entertain different people so what I like someone else may loathe and vice versa!

So, despite my mixed feelings about books made into films, I am glad to hear that four more of Nora's books are to be made into films, using the same production company and I look forward to watching them! First, for watching them for the pleasure of a nice film and then for the pleasure of reading them all over again!!! ;-)

By the way, I should add that I will only go to the cinema if I have read the book first and that is because I am deaf and so few screenings will have subtitles, so I ensure that I get maximum understanding and therefore pleasure by knowing the story well!! In fact the only films that I have been to see at the cinema in the past few years is Harry Potter!! Of course, I know that there will be differences between the book and film, but it is good enough for me and means that I can enjoy the big screen effect!!


jlshall said...

Yes, I've had the same experience with film versions of books I've loved - I usually try to avoid those anyway. They could never be as good as my own imaginary movie versions.

Welcome to BTT - it's fun, but addictive!

John's comments said...

Blow that was One of the book versus films things I forgot to mention that books can be very long! And its made me think of a second... Books can change POV and style from chapter but films can't!