Books vs Hollywood


Mahnoor Hasan, Contributing Writer

Books are better than their movie adaptations. Period. 

Of course, there are movies that have their own places in our hearts, whether based on a book or not. Most movies, though, that were specifically written based on a book, are not entirely good. A majority of the time, the people that say the movies are better than the books haven’t actually read the book. I’ve been there, and I was wrong. 

One reason that people prefer movies is the action and liveliness of the scenes. Technology has obviously improved a lot. They went from filming King Kong and Godzilla using action figures to using CGI and making it look more believable. Now, you can go into the theaters, watch it in 3D, and throw popcorn everywhere when the large gorilla throws the enormous dinosaur across the screen. Graphics and CGI can play a part as to why one loves the movie more, but did you know that there is more to what’s on the screen? No, I’m not talking about deleted scenes. I’m talking about the scenes that weren’t even in the original script. Isabella Scavo, a senior at Shaker High School, is a book lover, and when asked which she prefers, she chose books over their Hollywood adaptations. I asked her if she had any movies that she preferred over the book, and she responded “Before I Fall. The book and movie are really different like they changed a lot of things between the movie and book, but I think I like the movie better. They did cut one of my favorite scenes between the two, but I just think the casting of the movie was really good. No one was too famous. It was really good. I like the way that they ultimately did it.” Movies do have a limited run-time because it’s rare that someone is willing to sit down for 5 hours to watch a movie. All in all, it makes sense that they will cut scenes. However, it is random for producers to add scenes that weren’t originally in the book. While discussing the differences between the Harry Potter movies and books, Bella mentioned “They cut a lot of important things, and then changed stuff. And sometimes they added things like randomly…their house (the Weasley house) burns down out of nowhere.” In Harry Potter: Half-Blood Prince, the Weasley house was burned down by Death Eaters, and this scene wasn’t in the book. Many fans found this additional scene to be pointless because, in the next film, their burrow is already being rebuilt. It, also, didn’t add anything to the plot. 

The detail in a book is one of the key reasons for it being better than the movie. It is almost entirely impossible for a movie to be able to capture all the details of a book. One of the most famous movie franchises to this day is the Harry Potter franchise, and they did a good job portraying it on the big screen. When it came to Harry Potter, I used to say “I don’t need to read the books because I’ve already seen the movies.” I had it all wrong. I have to read the books. After watching multiple detailed videos on Youtube explaining the differences between the books and movies, I rewatched the movies to see what I’d understood after figuring all the random stuff out. For instance, one of the slightest things that the movie only visualizes and doesn’t go into, but someone who has only watched the movie wouldn’t catch is in the Order of Phoenix. This is the fifth movie in the series, and it picks up after Cedric Diggory’s death and Voldemort’s return. Harry was the only one who witnessed Voldemort’s return and many were afraid of it. One of them was the head of the Ministry of Magic, Cornelius Fudge. He entirely disregards the fact that Voldemort has returned purely out of fear, and he claims Harry to be a liar and the press is all over it. If you read the books, you’d know that Percy Weasley, one of Ron’s older brothers, sided with Fudge. Siding with Fudge meant that he was going against his family, leading to a big argument. Some would say it’s as if the Weasleys had lost a son/brother. The only glimpse one would get of that in the movie is when they cut to a scene with Fudge in the newspaper with Percy Weasely right beside him. Not to mention, the movie did cut out quite a few characters who played a bigger role in the books. This brings us to the fact that a lot of Hollywood’s depictions of books are almost not even close to the books, just a small portion of them.

From the perspective of someone who loves to read, it is always interesting to see who is going to portray the characters since we naturally made up a random figure in our minds. In current events, a Netflix series will be coming out based on one of my most beloved series called The Selection by Kiera Cass. My main fear for the casting is, what if it’s someone who isn’t a good actor, and every time they say something I’ll cringe? Or what if they don’t look anything like the characters are described in the books? Shadow and Bone is a new Netflix series based on the Shadow and Bone and Six of Crows series written by Leigh Bardough. The show did really well; the only problem the book fans have with it is that the show combined both series into one timeline when they were originally set on two different ones. However, there are rumors that a second series based solely on Six of Crows is going to be set out. Also, the casting in the show was phenomenal. Even though in the books, the main character, Alina, wasn’t East Asian, the show cast an East Asian and made it a big part of the main character’s identity. That was a minor change, but it’s a very positive change as it adds more diversity to the cast. “Sometimes when there are 30-year-old actors playing 17-year-olds it’s like NO,” said Bella when discussing what is a turn down for her when Hollywood portrays books. Dear Evan Hansen was one of the few books that wasn’t originally written as a book, but it was a play first. After the play and book gained a lot of attention, they decided to film a movie. However, as soon as the trailer was released, people didn’t like that they cast Ben Platt as the main character since he is a 28-year-old man who clearly isn’t close to the age of 17. He was mainly cast because he played the main character in the play and has an amazing voice, but the movie loses its realistic touch as soon as they mess up the casting.

One of the best parts about reading, in general, is using your imagination. When asked if she prefers books or Hollywood, Shreya Mahesh didn’t hesitate to respond with books. “When you read a book you can just like fall into it. It’s like your own imaginary world. You can read for hours. And it makes you feel like you’re creating your own story, but the story’s already there, and your imagination is creating a whole new universe.” Readers have their own touches and views on a book that makes it a little more personal to them. Many people prefer movies because of the environment, and I agree. Whether the movie was well based on the book, or good enough for itself, it’s fun watching a movie knowing that you’re surrounded by people who are just as intrigued by the plot as you are.

Books are better than their movie adaptations because when reading a book there’s more to it. There is so much detail. In the movies, directors tend to cut out certain parts because it may make the movie too long, but some of those scenes are what readers are looking forward to the most. Also, changing the plot of a book for its Hollywood adaptation completely changes the meaning of the book. Producers and writers can do a better job capturing the moments in books rather than leaving it all out. I think it’s safe to say that some books are better off just being books.