Movie or Book

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When a movie is made based on a book, should that movie be 100% accurate to the source material?

Where do you stand? Should a movie be accurate to the book or should it be allowed to alter the story to fit the medium? Many books take this approach.

The Godfather borrows the basic story and some scenes, but reorganizes others, rewrites others, completely rejects others, turning what was a trashy pulp novel into the greatest movie ever made. While many fans lament certain scenes that the movie discarded from the book, I've never met or heard from anyone who thinks the book is better.

Jurassic Park took the basic story, but altered characters, plot points, scenes. Yet in this case many argue whether the result was better than the book. Many movie fans who later went back to read the book announce that is the better version.

How about what may be the biggest book to movie project of recent decades: Lord of the Rings. Lord of the Rings changed a lot from the books, so much that many book fans felt the movies butchered the books. Christopher Tolkien, the author's son, hated them so much that he referred to them as trash, saying they completely perverted the story of the books, and refused to have anything to do with them. That's not just the son being overly protective. We have letters from his father expressing his hatred of the cartoon movies and his complaints about every single thing they did differently from the books. Christopher died a few years ago, but the estate still keeps their distance from other media interpretations.

Of course, many more people became fans of the movies having never read the books and still haven't read the books, and these people generally feel the movies are perfect and that book fans are idiots for disliking the changes. Visit the LotR subreddit sometime to see the war of words between these two groups.

I think the Harry Potter movies have a similar story, with many book fans disliking a lot of the things the movies changed, while movie fans think the book purists are making a mountain out of a molehill.

I think the main arguments against not changing anything for the film are that it would make the film too long and too boring. Many book purists on the other hand seem to accept the idea of dropping some scenes to speed up the pacing of a film, but they dig in their heels when it comes to changing entire scenes, which in many cases they feel is unnecessary and ruins things.

Let's look at two examples from Lord of the Rings.

Example 1:

Boromir was one of the humans who joined the fellowship of the ring, whose job it was to carry the ring to Mordor where it would be destroyed. Boromir was brave and valiant for most of the journey, however he eventually gave in to temptation and tried to steal the ring for himself, an act that resulted in the breaking of the fellowship and his death.

In the books we witness the act of him trying to steal the ring at the end of the first book and the breaking of the fellowship. However we don't learn about his noble death fighting orcs to save other hobbits who were a part of the fellowship until the beginning of the second book. It's something of a cliffhanger. In fact, the last we see of Boromir in the first book is his trying to take the ring, so we think poorly of him as the book ends.

The movies change this, moving his death to the end of the first movie. The movies also change the focus and emphasize his noble death, giving him a powerful speech as he lay dying.

Is this a good change? Essentially it just saved us from a cliffhanger and help emphasize that despite his moment of weakness, he still was a good person. Even many book purists seem to be content with this change, accepting that it may be better for pacing.

Example 2:

Boromir's brother Faramir meets with Frodo, the hobbit who is carrying the ring. In the books Faramir correctly guesses that Frodo has the ring with him, however he resists temptation and not only allows Frodo to continue his quest to destroy the ring, but helps him.

In the movie, however, Faramir is also unable to resist the ring; he captures Frodo and starts marching him to Faramir's home city so that he can take the ring, endangering the quest to destroy it. He is given a lot of lines about how they can use the ring as a weapon and how his father will be happy. Finally after an enemy attack he realizes his mistake and allows Frodo to escape.

Is this a good change? Arguably it makes the effects of the ring more powerful, showing that no one can resist it, and this was probably the reason Peter Jackson, the director, made the change. But this change is at the expense of the character of Faramir, who is changed from having a stronger will than his brother in the book to being more of a carbon copy of him. As you might expect, most book purists dislike this change.

(There are many more drastic changes between the LotRs books and films, but we'll leave it at this one)

Anyway, what do you think? Are changes from book to film acceptable? Are there any books to films that you dislike for reasons of scene or character changes? Are there any films that you think are improved from the books because of changes? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

Hi there! David LaSpina is an American photographer and translator lost in Japan, trying to capture the beauty of this country one photo at a time and searching for the perfect haiku. He blogs here and at Write him on Twitter or Mastodon.

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It's always a case by case basis. There are some movies that truly outshine the book, but many times massive departures are a mistake. But let's face it, sometimes the departures are necessary because what's in the book just wouldn't do well with audiences. And at the end of the day ticket sales are way more important to production companies.


It's all about the ticket sales. At the same time, I think movie studios look down on audiences too much, treating them as if they are idiots who can't understand anything unless it's spelled out for us, and that is the reason for half the changes to books they make.


Lectors will always suffer the movies acurracy ,cause they are waiting to have the same experience .But movies are made to people that mostly don't read .


I think movies should not change things. Harry met Draco on the train in the book. What was the purpose of changing that for the movie?


You have no idea how often I ask that same question.


Oh that's one of little ones ,the greatest change for me is the Neville downgrade of movies ,un diferrence of movies where just Jump from nothing to a hero ,books give him a real develop from Zero to hero.


That's one thing movies almost always skip—character development.


I am a HUGE J.R.R Tolkien fan!!!!! The books are far superior to the movie period end of subject. While I enjoyed the movies, I knew going in there was no way possible they would follow the script. I’d say 95% of books made to movies don’t do the book justice. Although many of Stephen King’s movies are pretty dam close to the books. I guess you need the author to be alive and a part of it to make that happen.


That's probably a lot of it, how involved the creator is, and if they are powerful enough to make their demands heard. Stephen King has the unique case of having already been considered one of the best writers in the industry even when he was fairly young, giving him a lot of power to make his demands heard in Hollywood for most of his movies.




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Earlier I used to read mostly books and used to read books all night but since mobile age has come I watch movies or check social media.


I probably use social media too much (at least if we consider Hive social media) but I do very much prefer reading a book.