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Op-Ed: From Book to Movie: Which of These Failed the Transition

As a firm believer in books over movies, I often refuse to watch the film adaptation of the story, because I know that no matter what, it’s going to end in disappointment. And when the time comes that I’ll want to reread and experience the amazing storyline again, it would be ruined by the invasion of the actors’ face in my mind, or the image of the film setting over my previously self-formulated environment.

Books and movies are two different forms of storytelling, each with its unique advantages and limitations. While many people may be excited about their favorite books being adapted for the big screen, there are many reasons why books should not be made into movies.

Literature is often much more complex than movies. A book can delve into the inner thoughts and emotions of its characters, explore complex themes and ideas, and provide a more nuanced and detailed look at the world it creates. In contrast, movies often have to sacrifice depth and complexity to fit into a two-hour time frame, resulting in a less rich and satisfying story, as well as one-dimensional characters. Books, on the other hand, allow the reader to use their imagination to create the world and characters in their mind’s eye. Which not only allows for a more personal and intimate connection with the story but also allows for a more immersive experience.

It is also important to consider the commercial motivations behind movie adaptations of books. While some adaptations are made with the goal of creating a faithful and compelling retelling of the original story, others may be made simply to capitalize on the popularity of the book. In these cases, the filmmakers may make changes to the story or characters to make it more marketable or appealing to a broader audience. This can result in a watered-down version of the story that lacks the depth and complexity of the original.

Books and movies are different mediums, each with its unique strengths and limitations, and trying to force one into the mold of the other can result in a less satisfying experience for fans of the original story. While there are certainly exceptions, in general, it is best to appreciate books and movies as separate entities and not expect one to be a faithful representation of the other.

In my opinion, the magical essence of being able to create a world in your mind upon looking at words on a page, and the beautiful realization that every world is different with every set of eyes that look at the page, is all ruined by a one-dimensional film adaptation. But even I can admit that sometimes these movies actually do well, just like I can express that sometimes they plummet to the ground. Here are some of the ones that the public believes experienced the latter, for whichever of the reasons previously mentioned.

1. The Last Song

This movie is based on a novel by Nicholas Spark, which was a personal favorite, the novel of course. However, the movie deeply failed to caption the essence of the main character. Most of the novel consisted of a deep dive into the thoughts and turmoil of Veronica Miller. The movie tried to make up for the lack of access to her inner thoughts with an overstated attitude, however, while most people enjoyed this book adaptation, the main character from the book and the movie are two different people for me.

2. The Scarlett Letter

Everyone knows this classic novel by Nathaniel Hawthorn as a social commentary that engages with a past, yet influential period of American history. Showing the shame that was attached with women’s sexuality and a look into Puritan culture. This tragic drama, however, was turned into an almost romantic plotline. And the stigma and shame that the novel did such a good job of portraying was lost due to so many over-sexualized scenes. It ends up sending a message that contradicts the book.

3. Twilight

Most people don’t even need to read the novels to know that this film adaptation probably misrepresented the essence of the books. The supernatural world and romantic magic that Stephanie Meyer meticulously crafted with her novels was turned into a set of cringe-worthy scenes that cause more laughter than enchantment. Many book fans found their beloved characters to be portrayed in a misguided manner, and I can’t say I disagree.

4. The Book Thief

This historical fiction novel by Markus Zusak fails as a movie for many reasons, but the main one being the perspective from which the story is told. This novel is narrated from Death’s point of view, and this doesn’t quite come across in the same way onscreen. Many fans of the novel criticize Liesel’s poor character development, as well as the film’s incapability of translating the heart wrenching scenes from the book, since it allotted more time to less important moments.

5. The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones

What makes this novel so great is the intriguing mythology and fictious terminology Cassandra Clare inserted into her fictitious world. This mythological side of the story was subdued in the book by a boring, mainstream focus on the drama and glamor of the storyline.


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