When The Movie Is Better Than The Book

There is a long tradition among readers to exclaim that the book is always better than the movie, but this is simply not the case. There are a number of books that have been turned into movies where I have both read the book and seen the movie, and for the vast majority of them I prefer neither the book or the movie. The book is a book and the movie is a movie. They are different mediums and serve different purposes.

Occasionally I will find that there are movies that I prefer to the book. I am doing that a bit right now with Bryce Courtenay’s The Power of One. There is nothing wrong with the book, only that there is too much of it. There is a lot of the book that the movie left out and it reordered some of it, but when thinking about it they feel like good edits.

The book drags at some points and spends too much time in certain areas. It is one of those books that makes you feel the weight of the time the characters are experiencing. There are some very good moments in the book but they are just moments and the writing does get better as Peekay ages.

I remember reading No Country For Old Men and remarking how closely the movie followed it. There were only a few scenes left out. The Power of One is different but similar. While the movie doesn’t follow the book it is simply an editing of it and quite a good one. The changes feel both necessary for the medium of film and the creation of a better story.

The thing about movies vs books is that movies are a different medium. The average novel is around a 10 hour read. Almost perfect for a mini-series on TV but there is a lot of editing that needs to happen for a 2 hour film.

Some script writers can do this while others cannot. There are a number of movies that seamlessly transition from the book to the film, but others fail by valuing the wrong scenes and the wrong message from the books. The ones that get it right or even improve on the story are the ones that keep all that is necessary and cut or remove everything else.

This isn’t to say that I am not enjoying the book or that there aren’t scenes in it that aren’t in the movie that I enjoyed, but I do find the movie to be a good edit, and when I wish to revisit this story I will do so through the movie over the book.

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