The Book Is (Almost) Always Better

As I mentioned in my review of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 a few days ago, I have enjoyed the Harry Potter movies, but I loved the books. I love them I love them I love them. I have started to use Goodreads, and the only duplicate I have is my two versions (American and U.K.) of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I always visualized Snape looking something like a troll, so many props to Alan Rickman for being (a) awesome, and (b) not a troll. I honestly feel like the Harry Potter movies are simply a different way of looking at the Potterverse. The books are so rich with detail that a movie can never quite compare, but you must admit that Quidditch is much cooler seen than read.

photo by Kathy

Then again, some things just must be seen, period. Have you ever tried to read a fight scene? I have, and I did it for over thirty books. I was once in love with the Fearless series by Francine Pascal*. Every one of those books had martial arts fight scenes, and they were always, always awkward. It is so much easier to watch a fight than to read someone’s description of it. I don’t care what Buffy’s (or Gaia’s) moves are called; I want to see them happen. There is a reason movie novelizations are unilaterally terrible. The translation from movie-to-book is asking for failure; book-to-movie can be great, even when big changes are made.

My favorite example of an excellent book and an excellent movie is The Princess Diaries. I love Anne Hathaway, and I loved the first Princess Diaries movie. (The second was trash. Don’t waste your time with it.) But Julie Andrews is nothing like Grandmere: she drinks no sidecars, she has no Rommel (her dog), and she is not harsh with Mia. She’s great, but she’s a completely different character from the books. Also, Mia’s dad isn’t dead, just infertile. I guess that was a bit much for Disney to address. I haven’t read all of the Princess Diaries novels (there are ten and a half), but I loved what I read, and although the movie changed, so much, it’s still great.

In my experience, the book is always better than the movie…unless it has fight scenes. I’m not sure anyone can write fights right.

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*Side note: The real Francine Pascal didn’t write a single Sweet Valley book until Sweet Valley Confidential, and Ann Brashares of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants wrote the first Fearless book.



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