Let’s accept and appreciate the film adaptations for what they are: not the book
Growing up, I always read the book before watching the movie, with the cycle almost always ending in disappointment.
The characters in my imagination did not match the characters on screen. The film omitted plot points. As the credits roll, I often thought the story I was reading had just been ruined by the movie.
Instead of this constant disappointment – or avoiding movie adaptations of our favorite books altogether – we should take a different perspective. The enjoyment of a movie shouldn’t be solely based on how well it matches its source material. We should stop comparing the book to its movie counterpart, not just for our own sanity, but to appreciate books and movies as two distinct art forms.
I recently broke my rule and watched Dunes before reading the book. Leaving the room with my friend – who had finished the book the day before – we had completely different interpretations of the film. Mine was focused on visceral cinematography, his was focused on how the film compared to the book. But in the end, we both had good things to say about it.
When a story is brought to life, each reader will see the characters, plot, and themes differently. As readers, our individual experiences shape our interpretation of the author’s words and we create unique worlds in our imagination.
Realistically, we shouldn’t expect the movie we see on screen to match the movie developed in our head while reading the book. It can be overwhelming when a character on screen doesn’t match the character we imagined, but that’s the beauty of fiction: its ability to provide different meanings to everyone who reads the book.
Author Neil Gaiman said, “Fiction is a lie that tells us true things over and over again.” A director’s truth doesn’t need to meet your truth – a director is simply in a better position to share their interpretation with the world by shifting the narrative to a different art form.
Adapted by Baz Luhrmann from F. Scott Fitzgerald Gatsby the magnificent was torn by critics for straying too far from the classic. Either way, it’s still a movie with top-notch acting, a moving soundtrack, and stunning visuals.
The film failed to capture the elegance of Fitzgerald’s lyrics, and the poetic dialogue didn’t translate perfectly to the screen. But that’s the nature of film compared to books – it triggers different emotions to grab our attention and entertain us.
We can appreciate both the book and the film as separate entities because they use their own respective tools to tell the same story. Inevitably, this leads to their differences – and that’s okay.
Instead of saying the book will always be better, accept that the movie will always be different. If we enter the theater with this mindset, fiction can still provide us with truth both on the page and on the screen.
Natara Ng is a third year kinesiology student and That of the magazine Deputy sports editor.