Books turning into movies

By Abigail Keefe
September 16, 2005

Jerry Zurek

Recently books have been making a bigger impact by appearing on the screen. However, this presents the question: Can a movie ever recreate a book fully enough for its true fans? This question has been a source of debate for movie buffs, as well as literary buffs, for quite some time now.

This is a question that I have also battled with as well recently. As both an avid reader and a movie buff, I feel it is simply wrong to go and see a movie when you have not read the book beforehand. The main reason I feel this is necessary is because it is almost a guarantee that alterations will need to be made to the book during its transition to the screen. Therefore, it is important to know what the original story was and be aware of some of the things you have missed out on. There are also just some literary elements that do not translate well to the screen that the viewer should be aware of if they want to understand the meaning of both pieces as a whole.

In light of this important fact, I think it is sufficient to say that movies will almost certainly never be able to tell the entire story of a book. I encountered an example of this in my life this summer when I heard about how the book “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” was going to be turned into a movie. I was a huge fan of this book and I was excited to hear that it was being turned into a movie. I was also worried though, as many other fans were I’m sure, that the book would be severely altered for the screen and disappoint loyal fans.

Sure enough, premiere time rolled around, and after dutifully rereading the book, I viewed the movie and, as expected, was moderately happy with the results. I tried not to be too critical, but I still felt the book did a better job of conveying the author’s ideas and humor. Nonetheless, I got a few laughs out of it, but my friend did not enjoy the movie at all. I quickly pointed out that it was because she had not read the book.

In light of this fact I also began thinking about two of the most successful books that have recently been turned into movies, which were “The Notebook” and “Harry Potter.” In my opinion one of the reasons these two movies have escaped serious criticism is because so many people who viewed them have read the accompanying books. For example, my friend, who viewed “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” with me, was much more enthralled with the latest “Harry Potter” movie, because she had read the book. Both movies bought to life a fantasy world previously only enjoyed in books, but both my friend’s and my own perceptions of the movies differed because we had or had not read the book. I personally felt “Harry Potter” was less than mediocre, mindless entertainment.

I think that it is absolutely necessary to read any book before you view the movie if you want to get the entire experience. My current literary and cinematic experience is “The Constant Gardner,” hopefully this intriguing book and movie will not let me down.

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Abigail Keefe

Abigail Keefe is a Cabrini College student studying communications, enjoying her time in Radnor, Pennsylvania. Abbie loves working for the school newspaper, the Loquitur, and is also passionate about everything that the communication field has to offer.

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