After reading Elizabeth Guizzetti’s recent blog post about the new Hobbit film, it got me thinking about the connection between novels and their film counterparts. Almost all critics will say that the book is much superior to the film, usually because the book is so detailed and full of charm and atmosphere which ultimately doesn’t translate well to the silver screen. And I must say that this statement is mostly true for me, although there are a few exceptions.
The first book that I was disappointed in (after seeing the film first) was Ian McEwan’s Atonement. I loved the twist at the end of the film and I loved the atmosphere and action during Robbie’s time in France. James McAvoy is a talented actor and brought a lot to the role; Keira Knightly even won me over with the stern portrayal of Cecilia. However, the book seemed to drag onwards, never really grabbing you and taking you along with the characters. It was far more centred on the misuse of the ‘C’ word than about the characters. I did persevere with the novel however, but ultimately by the end I found myself wishing that the book would end.
The second book was Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden, which tells the awful, tragic story of Chiyo Sakamoto and her life within a geisha house. The film gave the story an addictive character and an impression of what life must have been like for poor girls of Japan who were sold to become geisha’s. I found the film in particular, educated me more than what the book did. Of course, the book is there to entertain rather than educate, but as a Western reader, you do take some things on board. The book also seemed to focus on minor details rather than focusing on the bigger moments. I enjoyed Memoirs of a Geisha (the book) more than I enjoyed Atonement (the book) but overall I was left with a somewhat distasteful opinion.
Of course, one could assume that literary books are just simply not for me, if you go on the above books. They both tend to focus more on character and language rather than action and in all honesty I probably do love more commercial books than literary ones, but that’s simply not because I fail to understand the books. It may be cynical of me to assume, but it’s almost derogatory to admit that you don’t like a literary book, as if you aren’t a ‘proper’ reader.
However, despite reading more books with a mass market appeal, I did enjoy The Color Purple by Alice Walker and The World According to Garp by John Irving. Both considered to be literary. I’m even reading (and enjoying) The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling at the moment, which could be sorted into Modern Literary. So I don’t really have a problem with literary novels, just those that lack something special.
But what about you? Have you enjoyed a film more significantly than the book? Get in touch and perhaps we can see if there is a trend.