Movies that are based on best-selling books are not a new thing. It’s proven to be a popular and enduring practice since Hollywood’s golden age and the film industry counts on the popularity of the book to pull in viewers for the movie adaptation. However, many people do realize that there can be significant differences between the movie adaptation and the book from which it was based on. This leads to old familiar saying “the book was better” which is nearly always accompanied by the roll of the eyes and a subtle shoulder shrug.
There are always going to be critics of the film adaptations, as we have seen from the recent Harry Potter films and as recently as this weekend, as Hunger Games made its debut in cinematic form. The fact of the matter is, kids will be swayed towards a certain interpretation of the book via the film no matter what. When I was in high school, I always based my reading reports and essays on the film adaptations, whether it was for To Kill a Mockingbird or 1984. It wasn’t out of laziness. As a more visual person, it was just easier for me to understand the plotline in that format, rather than focusing on words on a page. Even with One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, which I read from cover to cover, I still visualize the storyline the way it played out with Jack Nicholson at the helm. And every time I got my report back from a teacher, they would write, “the book was better. Nice try.” Cue roll of the eyes and shoulder roll.
While, there is certainly an argument that film adaptations lose the imagination and focus of the original concept that the book was trying to convey, I do believe it served as a good launching point for kids that are more visual in nature. Instead of dismissing a film version as inferior, perhaps teachers should be more flexible in allowing students to see different interpretations of a storyline. I still remember seeing vastly different re-tellings of the Secret Garden, each one just as interesting as the one before it.
What do you think? Should teachers shun Hollywood versions of books that we all love? Or should we accept that these films provide one way of looking at the story