Thursday 13 August 2015

The book is always better than the film- Or is it? Adaptions

One of my favourite films is Jaws, which I've seen a gazillion times -

I can't say that the book (which I've only just got round to reading this year) is one of my favourite books.

Jaws: A Novel by Peter Benchley

It's axiomatic that the book is always better than the film, isn't it?

Well not in this case...

Novels are about inner worlds and inner journeys and can cope with having a multitude of sub-plots. Films tend to not focus on the inner world, for obvious reasons. And, in action movies, sub-plots muddy the narrative.

Spielberg's film substantially changes the relationships between the characters as depicted by Benchley. The film is tighter, has more humour, has more sympathetic characters and has more shark than the book.

It very much is a case where the film is far better than the book.

I'm not alone in this  - go read the 1 and 2 star reviews on Amazon.

So adaption - is it always a bad idea? A book is a very different medium to a film after all (just think about it in terms of POV and inner worlds) so why is it that Hollywood relentlessly adapts books, and now comics. Although comics is a medium of moments and, having a visual quality is, at first glance, more adaptable.

There are good adaptations - Jaws, bad adaptations - The Hobbit (imho - I've not even seen the series out it was so dire) and faithful adaptations - To Kill a Mockingbird

There are even film to book adaptations, which sometimes suffer the same problem of the film being great and the adaptation being awful - by all accounts the book of ET is just awful (although I dislike the film and have not read the book)

What are your worst and best adaptions book to film or film to book?

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