book shelves in a library

When books go to the movies

book shelves in a library

 

The moment millions have been waiting for is here, teen-novel-turned-movie Divergent is finally opening all over the world and fans will be able to answer the question:  what’s better, the book or the movie?

 

With almost 40 movies based on books set to premiere in 2014, the “what’s better” question is more relevant than ever.  Some people like to argue the book is always better but this librarian disagrees, the answer is much more complex.

 

First of all ‘based on” can mean different things.  In movies like the Harry Potter Series and The Hunger Games, the script follows closely the events of the books. In other cases, like Netflix’s Orange is The New Black, the screen version is only somewhat connected to the book. Comparing the two is like comparing apples and oranges.

 

Then there’s the issue of which one you see/read first as, like with subtraction and division, the order of the factors does affect the product. I remember watching Emma and The Count of Monte Cristo before reading the books and found the print versions tedious and difficult to get through.  It may be because the ending is spoiled or because you cannot get over the little changes in the movie but it is not always easy to go from the movie to the book.  

 

Finally, there’s the issue of expectations. If you really liked the book then you will expect a lot from the movie making it harder for it to deliver.

 

Recommendations for 2014

The Hundred-Foot Journey (book by Richard C. Morais): I did not love the book but with 4 different locations spread over India, England and France and Helen Mirren playing pseudo-villain Madame Mallory it may be an interesting movie.

 

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (book by Judith Viorst): Although this is a children’s book, I have to admit I have had my fair share of terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days as an adult. I’m curious to see how Steve Carell and Jennifer Garner bring this story to life.

 

In Secret (based on Thérèse Raquin by Emile Zola): Murder, sex, intrigues and period costumes, what more can you ask? Stars Elizabeth Olsen, Jessica Lange and Tom Felton (for Harry Potter fans, he plays Draco Malfoy).

 

Flipping It

This year there are two books based on movies/TV shows.  Seth Macfarlane’s A Million Ways to Die in the West gives you an insight into the minds of the characters in the eponymous movie.  Then, after raising almost six million dollars to film a sequel to Veronica Mars (TV show 2004-2007), creator Rob Thomas is launching a series of novels set to take place after the events of the movie.

 

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