Books vs. Movies

So about this whole books versus movies debate…

It always seems to come up when someone in Hollywood decides they’re going to make a movie based on a popular book. If you haven’t heard this before, there are two radical camps of people. There are those who walk around saying, “Don’t be so stupid! Of course the movie can’t be just like the book. Why are you so upset?”

Then there are those people who say, “Why did I go see that movie? They changed everything! The author must be furious!”

I’m not going to choose sides. What I’m about to say is all-encompassing, but I think very few people are going to disagree with me: If you are a book lover and you really really like a book that has been turned into a movie, you can’t not care. You just can’t. It doesn’t matter if the movie is good or bad. However, you can choose to have different opinions about the book and the movie. You don’t have to let a horrible movie ruin your entire night.

You have a choice.

I am a book lover, and I love to see my favorite books turned into movies. While there have been times that screenwriters just don’t do books justice and I wish I could re-write their scripts myself (yes, I’m talking about Inkheart), that’s my personal opinion. The majority of movie adaptations are not that bad.

I had to face this recently after being told by several people that I shouldn’t go see the new Divergent movie. “It’s not worth it! They’re changing everything. They’re changing the entire ending of the series…” and on and on. Yes, I know that’s alarming, but it wasn’t the end of the world. I actually enjoyed the movie. I would have enjoyed it even more if I hadn’t spent the entire car ride there thinking about Roth’s book series and if the movie would live up to that. My husband, Kevin, was in the car with me. He has never read the Divergent book series, so he simply couldn’t understand the turmoil that was going through my mind. He had an innocent mind.

It is impossible to avoid this struggle if you let yourself become attached to movie-worthy books. If you would allow me to give you one piece of advice, however, it’s that you have to try to detach yourself from the book for a short period of time. I know, I know, you think that’s impossible. But it is possible.

It’s actually crucial to your movie viewing experience.

You have to quiet that little voice in the back of your head that says, “That’s not how it happened in the book,” and you have to do it before you enter the movie theater.

Here is how I usually handle this. I set aside time to think about a book in the weeks, days, or hours before I go to see the movie based on it. If there are previous movies in the series, I reserve a day to catch up on them. Before that, though, I allow myself to become re-immersed in the world of the book, because it’s a wonderful piece of fiction in its own right. If I really love a book, I love to think about it, discuss it, go back and read my favorite chapters, and even re-write certain parts of it. I love to spend time in that author’s world.

I let my mind wander through the familiar pages of the book…but only if I can work up the determination of mind to open that world inside of a “room.” Before I enter the movie theatre, I have to step outside of the room, shut the door behind me, and lock it. Why? The two worlds cannot exist within the same room. The movie belongs in the adjacent room. The two rooms are connected, but the door remains shut. That’s true whether the movie follows the events of the book or not.

This allows me to enjoy the movie as a separate piece of fiction. As long as the door to the book’s world remains locked, I can say, “Oh, wow, that was a great scene!” or “Why did they do that?” But my opinion of the movie is not based solely on its relationship to the parent book. Then, I give that night, or even better, the whole next day, to just think about the movie. I know if something is banging on the door in that room, just begging to be let out, but I keep it locked up tight for a few days.

Then, only after I’ve thought about the movie from every angle, do I open the door and allow the thoughts about what the director did or did not change to enter my mind. Thoughts could go racing through my head for days. “I loved that scene. I can’t believe they didn’t put it in! Why did he change that?! Well, at least he didn’t get rid of my favorite supporting character. He just changed her last name, her physical attributes, and her entire backstory…” and so on and so forth.

Sound familiar?

It may be difficult  to remember sometimes, but, in the end, it’s important to remember that the book hasn’t changed, even if the movie was a huge disappointment. The book hasn’t been harmed. The movie is a separate thing. And just because you have multiple copies of the book on your shelf doesn’t meant that you have to keep a copy of the dvd right next to them, or even in your house if you’re that upset about it (again, Inkheart 😛 .)

That’s just the way I see it. Yes, it’s okay to be upset, but you don’t have to let it ruin your whole movie-watching experience. And please, PLEASE, don’t let a movie ruin a book for you.

That’s how I handle these situations. If you have a different approach or opinion, please fell free to comment. I’d love to start a discussion about this. If you have any book-turned-movies that you just love to death or love to hate, please share those as well. Just remember to keep in mind: the book is always better than the movie, and that’s a fact!


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