Wednesday 25 March 2015

Book or Film? The debate continues!

People will think I've taken something a little bit unusual with my morning coffee but I (yes, me, the reading addict,) don't always think that the book is better than the film. I realise that I now need to go into hiding before my fellow bibliophiles hunt me down and force me to read the entirety of a song of ice and fire (up to the current volume) in one sitting (I realise that's a TV series not a film, but let's not be overly pedantic about this.)

Please though, listen to my point before you bind my hands with fabric bookmarks and march me out of the library in disgust! We should not be asking which is 'better' (and I would certainly never watch the film instead of reading the book - blasphemy!) - it's simply which we prefer.

In some cases, no matter how radically different the book and the film are, I like them both equally. Because they are different. Because directors, producers, and actors, can read the same book I do and see something completely different in it's pages - and sometimes their ability to show us that is simply beautiful. No one can argue that Alan Rickman does not perfectly embody Severus Snape, and also completely steals the show in the last film despite having minimum screen time. If it wasn't Harry Potter he would've won an Oscar (After all this time? Always.) Shutter Island has a different vibe, and several different points, to the original book by Dennis Lehane. I love both book and film equally - they're simply beautiful; the same with An Interview with the Vampire.

This leads me to my next point - the film encourages people to read the book; to date, (and off the top of my head,) films (or TV series) which I have seen and then been inspired to seek out the book are: Shutter Island, An Interview with the Vampire, The Crow, Let the Right One In, The Man with the Iron Mask, The Vampire's Assistant, Tanya Huff's Blood books, A Game of Thrones, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, and A Tale of Two Cities. All of which I now adore to varying degrees; I don't love the film any less for reading the book, nor the book any less for seeing the film. And if films are encouraging people to think about their literary predecessors, shouldn't we be encouraging that?

Sometimes though, filmmakers miss something vital - something of the magic and the majesty of the original. There's always something to prose that it's almost impossible to convey on screen. Sometimes the film is just down-right disappointing (I really wasn't fond of the Picture of Dorian Gray adaptation starring Ben Barnes, despite my usual love for his work.) But the best of stories, novels, etc., can withstand even the most haphazard of adaptations. They survive. They continue. Everybody forgets the crappy film, and goes on loving the book.

So watch the film, read the book, or do both. And hopefully my fellow book lovers will understand what I mean, and I won't have to change my name and flee the country!

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