why books are better than movies: the non-reader’s version

I was so pleased the other day by something that Husband, who does not read, said to me. We were going out in the evening for a beer and an all-beef hot dog, and listening to The Shining because we were in my car – Husband does not usually like to jump into my audiobooks mid-story, unless they are P.G. Wodehouse or Stephen King – and heard a certain passage that he apparently found striking. It was a glimpse into the thinking of one of the characters, and Husband observed:

You know, this is better than in a movie, because in a movie she just would have been standing there looking at the pictures. We wouldn’t have known she was thinking about the future and dope-smoking rock stars.

I was so pleased and touched that he made this judgment in favor of the book format, and I thought it was worth sharing here.

(Also, I’m just back from vacation and need to get my feet under me so I can give y’all some book reviews!!)

5 Responses

  1. Well, to play devil’s advocate, this does happen, because so many movie adaptations of books are very literal, just filming the events, as opposed to taking the book and using it to make a separate work of art as a movie (Naked Lunch would be one example off the top of my head).

    This is one reason I’m interested in the movie Cloud Atlas — the directors were apparently willing to tear the book apart and reassemble it in order to make a movie out of it.

    • There are exceptions. I’m still curious about the movie version of The Lovely Bones. For that matter, I don’t watch terribly many movies, so I’m not very well-equipped to debate the matter. 🙂 But I do think he hit on one of the basic differences between formats, generally speaking.

      • Oh, absolutely. I recently saw The Hunger Games and I remember a lot of people (who had read the book) complained that the movie didn’t find a way to capture all the things that you learn from the first-person narration in the book. i’m just starting to read the book, and I’m already seeing what they meant. 🙂

        • I am consistently frustrated by the movie version of the books I love… I should probably stop watching them! There’s a post coming about The Shining, which as a movie only vaguely resembles the novel on which it’s based. I try to be understanding, because as we’ve alluded to, there are several just basic differences between the formats, and this doesn’t mean one is better than the other. But often what I love in a book is lost in the movie format for reasons related to time limits, etc.

  2. […] and plot, to fit into two hours or so. Interior thoughts and motivations are often lost (see recent discussion). None of which means that movies can’t be good; they just can’t be […]

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