Relationship between books and films: the pros and cons of book to film adaptations!
Cinema and literature have had a long unending relationship with each other ever since the business of filmmaking started. Literature has always been one of the major inspirations for motion pictures, since both books and films represent the art of storytelling. But in the past few years, from being merely inspirations, books have been brought into the foreground of scriptwriting and book adaptations into films is a hot trend that filmmakers across the globe follow.
The Bible has been an inspirational force for some mega movies like ‘The King of Kings’, ‘David & Bathsheba’, ‘The Greatest Story Ever Told’, and the story of Prophet Moses in the film, ‘The Ten Commandments’. From mythology to sci-fi, from drama to comedy, almost all genres of books have been adapted into films, but some do well while others don’t. Similarly, some parts of the audience love book adaptations while others are totally against books being adapted into films. Let us take a look at some of the pros and cons of books being adapted into films:
- One of the biggest advantages of a book being made into a film is seeing the characters come alive and give your imagination a sense of reality. A lot of people cannot imagine and picture the characters or situations when reading a book, but a film makes all that very simple. We all are aware of the extremely popular ‘Harry Potter’ or ‘The Lord of the Rings’ series that has won accolades both as a book and as a film.
- Another great reason for turning books into films is to find and appeal to a wider audience. When it comes to reading books, it’s not a hobby that everyone has, in fact, there are a lot of people who simply cannot read, but they sure do enjoy watching films. Books sometimes also have a language barrier; a great story could have been written in a language we don’t understand. For instance, there could be a great Spanish novel with a limited reach, but when someone plans to adapt it into an English film, the story automatically reaches out to more people. Film adaptations also work well for less popular books or books that are old and a movie made on them helps the story reaching out to more people. ‘Omkara’ based on Shakespeare’s ‘Othello’ is a great example wherein the film is adapted in a way that is more relatable to the Indian audience who might not have read ‘Othello’ otherwise.
- Film adaptations from books sometimes also bring a fresh perspective, as the filmmakers take certain creative liberties and add their own touches to the film. This gives the audience a new outlook, especially if one has read the book already. ‘Devdas’ is a classic example of how 3 different films belonging to 3 different generations are adapted from the same book and yet each of them has a sense of freshness and newness in their characters and storytelling.
- Books are always more detailed and thus a lot of people find it easy to relate to the emotions of a character in the book as compared to a fast-paced film. Despite the fact, that the film in itself could be a well-made movie, when you compare it to the book, a lot of details go missing. ‘The Da Vinci Code’ as a film squeezed into barely 2 hours showcases all aspects of the book but in a rushed-up manner. A lot of historic detailing that the book entails one through is not seen in the film.
- Many film adaptations do not justify the depth that a book offers. ‘Aar Ya Paar’ based on a novel called ‘Sucker Punch’ by James Hadley Chase is a classic example. While the book is a suspense thriller that keeps its reader on the edge of the seat, when adapted to film with over the top drama and unnecessary songs thrown in, loses its grip completely and turns out to be a box office dud. The creative liberties that a director takes with a book sometimes don’t go down well with the audience, because they expect the film to showcase exactly what is there in the book. For example, ‘Twilight’ is one of the most popular as well as a controversial book to film adaptations, where the audience who have read the book expect the film to follow the details. In ‘Twilight’, the book says that Edward’s Volvo is silver, yet in the movies the Volvo is black. To a filmmaker, this could be a creative thought process, but for the audience, it is like taking away the essence of the book.
Likewise, while reading books people imagine the characters in their own way, and not every time a filmmaker’s casting proves apt for the audience’s imagination. Such adaptations with a loose script, unmatched characters, and irrelevant storytelling methods are not accepted by the audience and they prefer good books to be rather left alone and not made into films.
- Films ruin a reader’s imagination if they are reading the book post watching the film. While a book allows one to etch each character and situation in their minds in their own way, a film’s cast and plot sometimes limit a person to imagine and think of the character based on the film alone. Also, since one has already seen the film, the process of reading the book loses its charm and seems more elongated as compared to a 3 hour film. And in the case of suspense thrillers and mystery books especially, the films prove to be a complete giveaway; with the reader already knowing the end, the process of book reading becomes less exciting.
As the legend says, “There are always two sides to a coin”, and this debate on whether films should be adapted from books or not can keep going on. Whatever may be the case, there are enough examples to support both. Some film adaptations have been a huge success while others haven’t, all that matters, in the end, is to go ahead and make a film you feel from the heart. But always do remember to give credit to the author and the book in case you decide to base your film on a book and use appropriate permissions before setting out to make the film. To learn more about filmmaking and its different processes, enrol yourself for WWI Virtual Academy’s Advanced Certificate Program in Filmmaking.