*GASP* How could I even give a blog post a title that so borders on bookish sacrilege?
Yes, I know–bookworms all over often proclaim the unfailing superiority of books over their film versions. “The book is always better than the movie.”
Granted, when it comes to books that are later made into films, I often prefer what I read over what I watch. However, as an enthusiast who has, in recent years, been growing to love films about as much as I love books (due to my love of storytelling in general, whether literary or visual), it’s been getting easier for me to view books and films as separate works, which indeed they are.
Books and films are different works of art that have different creative requirements, and oftentimes, varied audiences. Even when a film is based on a book, a filmmaker is creating a whole new, separate work from the original author’s. While one filmmaker who’s obtained a book’s film rights may wish to make the “movie version” of that book, another filmmaker who’s obtained the film rights of a book may not be out to just make the book into a movie but to make a movie based on, but not necessarily limited by, the book’s original idea(s). Both are legitimate filmmaking approaches.
Keeping “separate works” in mind helps me not to downgrade a film merely because it’s different from the book it’s based on. That way I can judge the film for what it is: a film.
With that said, yes, there are rare occasions when this lifelong bookworm enjoys a film more than the book it’s based on. A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks was a nice read to me overall, but it didn’t have a profound, lasting impact on me like the 2002 Warner Bros. film did and does. Shane West and Mandy Moore really add compelling flesh and blood to the Landon and Jamie characters, and I usually have a tear or two during a few scenes in the movie, including the Spring Play when Jamie sings “Only Hope.” (If you happen not to have a tear when you watch the scene–of course, the rest of the movie is what gives this part more meaning.)
As I read My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult, I got a pretty immediate sense of why she’s such a popular author, and the book had me all in–right up until the end, which gave me an unpleasant “Wait a minute–huh? That’s it?” jolt, even for a reader who loves to read the unexpected. Apparently, some readers even see the ending as a cop-out from the tough questions the novel raises. I wouldn’t give it that label, but the ending is one reason I enjoyed the 2009 New Line Cinema film more than the book. Some may still see the film’s reworked ending as something of a cop-out or a tidy smooth-over for untidy life circumstances, but the film’s plot has more of a natural flow to me, particularly where the ending is concerned.
So. Are you a bookworm who’s ever liked a film better than the book it’s based on? If so, feel free to ‘fess up!