Books vs. Film: The Adaptation Debate

As long as there has been film, there have been adaptations of novels translated to the screen. The debate has always raged when it came to these adaptations about whether the film "holds up" to the novel in comparison, either by transferring it faithfully to the screen or doing enough different to merit individual worth. The debate has always favored the novel over the film adaptation, but why exactly is that the case? Is it because the original has final authority over the material? How do people interact and absorb stories differently through these medium? What are some examples of film adaptations surpassing their novel counterparts?

  • 'Surpassing' is subjective, I'd come up with a standard definition for that. I personally like the penultimate question best, but no edit required; it's simply a very open-ended prompt. – m-cubed 4 years ago
  • My favorite example of this debate is James Ellroy's L.A. Confidential vs. the 1997 film. The two versions share common threads but are distinctly different. I would also look at novels adapted by their writers like Perks of Being A Wallflower and the Godfather, where the authors had a hand in the film versions. – SeanGadus 4 years ago
  • Personally I don't think that it's wholly fair to compare a film to the book it was based off of. If an adaptation is worthwhile, then it should stand alone without requiring reference to the text on which it's based. That said, I think it's somewhat bizarre that films are often adapted from books in a way that's meant to be a 'faithful' representation. Can you imagine if someone tried to do the opposite, and turn a movie into a book? I'm all for mediums inspiring each other, and there are plenty of great film adaptations of movies, but I think ultimately a 1:1 translation of art to a new medium is impossible, which may account for why most film adaptations are so awful. – woollyb 4 years ago
  • I don't personally think we could have an answer for this. As a book leaves the reader to view the world however he pleases most of the people who prefer the novel adaptations are offering a subjective opinion. Reaching an objective stance on this is going to be tricky as results always vary. – TheUbiquitousAnomaly 4 years ago
  • A lot of the classic examples of films considered to have surpassed the novel are often films that most viewers aren't even aware was originally based upon a novel to begin with thus allowing the viewers to see the movie on its own merits first. Whereas novels that were mainstream popular prior to film releases are rarely considered to measure up. – Bookaddict27 4 years ago
  • Books are the soul to another universe. And movies takes you to that universe. For me after reading he HP series and watching the film, it's a little disappointing but I keep wanting to watch the movie over and over again, because it kinda transports me into a universe which I can visually see. Some movies like Sherlock Holmes, in which I have not read any books on, makea me want to write a hold of the novel to read them, and not the movie adaptation but he original novel. Hence, I can't say for sure if we have a true answer! – Zuccy 4 years ago
  • Books require more attention to detail and more concentration. It had *more* in it. However, I believe that some books are better as movies - such as 'The Martian', as it is written as a documentary on film. – essie 4 years ago

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