Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Why Are Movie Adaptations of Books Usually Inferior?

By  via Slate

Better in print?
Courtesy of MGM/New Line
This question originally appeared on Quora.
Answer by Robert Frost, cinephile:

Movies, as an entertainment product, are not more complex than books. Books are clearly more complex. When a scriptwriter sits down to adapt a novel into a screenplay for film, he starts by deciding which plots are to be kept and which are to be purged. He also decides on which characters to merge or cut in order to reduce the number of characters.

A two-hour movie can't support all of the subplots and characters that a 500-page book can. A reader might spend 10 hours reading that book. That's a lot more time to convey information. Here's an easy example: Go read any of the Harry Potter books and then watch the films. You'll find that many of your favorite scenes and characters from the books won't be in the films. A film just can't handle the level of complexity a book can.


transpress nz said...

"Never judge a book by its movie"

Phil Cutchie said...

Of course there are notable exceptions to this rule,
generally novella's make the transfer smoother than their big brother the novel, fine examples are Stand By Me, Shawshank Redemption and I would go as far to include The Outsiders brat pack movie from the early eighties that is equal to and perfectly captures S.E. Hinton angsty coming of age book.
One film I feel that out shines it's book roots is Francis Ford Copola's The Godfather, so much so that I think that most people are probably unaware of the films origins.
I do love them both equally, books and films, long may they continue to entertain and annoy us.