Books vs. movies: A matter of personal preference

By Lauren Mineo
October 3, 2002

To read the book or to watch the movie- that is the question. Many novels have been turned into movies during this age of shared media. There are expectations of readers that are oftentimes not fulfilled when viewing the movie’s version of a story. To be fair, though, movies tend to have the ability to draw popularity more successfully than the book. Movies often spark a new interest in a once-popular or unrecognized book, helping it to gain public attention.

When asked what the most prevalent characteristic of a book is that makes it movie-worthy, Dr. Marilyn Johnson, professor of English and communications, responded simply and concisely, “That it will make money.”

The storylines have the ability to be changed as the director sees fit, sometimes making the movie completely different from the book.

“Take for example the most recent version of ‘The Three Musketeers,'” said Johnson. “Dumas would turn in his grave if he saw how much the film changed his story.”

After the author sells his story, there is little to nothing he can do about keeping it intact. “An interesting example of this is ‘The Color Purple,'” Johnson said. “It is a nice film, but it emphasizes things that were minimized in the book and minimizes things that were emphasized in the book.”

Jamie Matozzo, Cabrini College graduate and first-year social work graduate student at Rutgers University said, “Books are much better than the movie, because the movie loses sight of the importance of the book. They are just fixated on making it an elaborate Hollywood production- big names, no plot. It loses the initial meaning of the book.” Matozzo read and enjoyed the film versions of “Great Expectations” and “Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood,” but said, “The books are definitely better.”

Junior social work major, Melissa Raucci saw the movie version of “Circle of Friends” before reading the book. The movie provoked her to read the book where she discovered that “the movie cut out a lot of characters.” Raucci said, “I enjoyed knowing the characters that they only mentioned in passing, but since it was a movie, you can’t have every detail.”

The books-turned-movies trend is not sure to end any time soon, as the money is being raked in at the box office by such movies as the Harry Potter and the J.R.R. Tolkien series. As long as the money is there, more movies will be made.

If students are interested in analyzing and comparing books and their movie versions, Dr. Marilyn Johnson and Dr. Arthur Young teach a class at Cabrini entitled Cinematic Interpretation of Literature.

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Lauren Mineo

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