Tuesday, February 7, 2017

[Bookish Discussion] Book-To-Film Adaptations

book to film adaptation book discussion

Let’s talk about book to film adaptations. The keyword here, of course, being “adaptation”. You know that a movie cannot cover every single little detail of a book (although, wouldn’t it be great if they could?!). For the sake of time, the storyline will be altered. And as a reader, it can sometimes be difficult to enjoy a movie if you have very strong feelings about the book.

I have read numerous rant posts about how “horrible” the movie was compared to the book and we've all see all the merch that states, "The Book Was Better". Of course everyone is welcome to their opinions. And I hope that those rants have been therapeutic, because sometimes there is nothing better than a good vent sesh!

However, all of these things got me wondering... What are my feelings when it comes to book to film adaptations? To summarize my thoughts, I put together this post.


Reading The Book VS. Watching The Movie First

Personally, I tend to prefer to read the book before I watch the movie. Mainly because I like to imagine the characters in my head before knowing which actor will play the part. This holds true for both the physical appearance of the character, the way they dress, their voice, as well as their general body language. I also like to paint the scenery in my mind before seeing it on the screen. And lastly, I really enjoy getting all the details from the book so I can spot any easter eggs in the film that I may have missed if I had watched the movie first.

However, I don’t always read the book first.

Sometimes I watch a movie and then find out later that it was based on a book. In those instances, if I have liked the movie, I will always add the book to my TBR immediately. If I didn't really care for the movie, I am less likely to add it to my TBR, but I would like to try to be more aware of this. I want to at least read the book's description and maybe some reviews to see if I would be interested, rather than just writing it off completely.

There are other times when I just cannot get into a book and need to see the screen version first. This was the case with The Hobbit. There were so many characters with unusual names that I just couldn't keep up with the book. Years ago, I watched the cartoon movie version of The Hobbit and then gave the book another try. This time, I was successful! Since then, I have watched all of the Lord of the Rings movies, but have not yet gone back to reading the books. Though I am hoping to get to them at some point this year!

How To Try To Separate The Two

Now, before I go any further here, I want to remind everyone that this is just my personal opinion. It is not a “rule" that I think everyone needs to follow. I posted this once on a book site and got a LOT of super negative comments. I am not trying to tell you to do anything at all. I am not saying you "need" to separate the two. I am not saying that this works for everyone, but simply that it usually works for me. I am not trying to pretend that I have a switch I can turn on and off in my brain to separate the two, because of course there will always be crossover. That's what we as humans do; we compare things. The following is just what I personally try to do.

Anyways. Moving right along...

Give It Time
I do like to watch the movie soon after I read the book, but not too soon after. I have found that if I finish a book one day, and then try to watch the movie the next, I am still thinking about the book too much. 3-5 days is usually a good delay for me. This timeline allows the book to still be a bit fresh in my mind, but I am also able to appreciate the film for what it is rather than comparing the two too much.

Before Watching- Get Your Mind Ready
Before watching a book to movie adaptation, I make sure to get myself in the right mindset. This means that I try to put the book itself in the back of my mind, and think of the movie as something separate. This helps me to lower my expectations while walking into the movie with fresh eyes. Yes, this can absolutely be difficult. That's why it is key to really work at it.

While Watching- Don't Over Analyze
When watching the film, of course certain scenes and such are going to trigger thoughts about the book. When this happens I acknowledge the thought, but don’t let myself start over analyzing the two.

A poor example:

A poor example of separating the two occurred when I watched the Deadpool movie. I have read so many of the Deadpool comics and the series is one of my all time favorites. I will admit that I had very high expectations for this film, and walking into it I was terrified that I wasn't going to like it but I was also physically shaking because I was so excited. I seriously cannot remember a time where I have ever been that excited about anything...and it was a bit unnerving.

When my boyfriend and I sat down in the theater, he asked me why I was so nervous. And I realized that I had hyped the movie up so much in my own head that there was no way I was going to be able to walk out of the theater feeling satisfied. So I took so deep breaths to try to calm down.

When leaving the theater, did I think that this movie lived up to the hype in my head? Not immediately, no. But that was because I was expecting far too much from it. And like I said above, movies cannot add every single little detail. I very easily could have gone down a negative rabbit hole that could have ruined the film for me. But I didn't let myself. And I am very happy to say that separating the two a bit helped me to think about the movie separately; focusing specifically on the movie storyline, the scene organization, and characters. From that, I decided that I thought the film did an absolutely lovely job introducing Deadpool to the cinematic world. Definitely one of my favorite Marvel films. I cannot wait for Deadpool 2!

A good example:

The best example I can think of here is the Miss Peregrine's book to film adaptation. I am pretty obsessed with the series. When I first heard that Tim Burton was going to direct the film, I was ecstatic. But then I started to see the movie promotional images and became worried. It was clear that some of the peculiarities had been altered. Part of me really wanted to freak out about that.

However, when I went to see the film, I got myself into the right mindset. I was open to discovering how Tim Burton had adapted things, even if I was still slightly weary. When watching the film, I of course noted the differences briefly, but I did not dwell on them.

Walking out of the theater, I was thrilled! Sure, the movie wasn't exactly like the book, but any alteration made sense for the movie's sake. I thought that it was a absolutely lovely adaptation!

Thanks for reading!
What are your thoughts on this topic? Please remember to keep the discussion light. There is nothing right or wrong here; it is all personal opinion.


  1. I think what helps me a lot is waiting to read the book till after I've seen the adaptation. That way I am not as disappointed, and I can enjoy both forms of the story without much expectations. Unless the adaptation is better than the original source, then I guess disappointment will happen.

    1. It all comes down to what works for you personally. :)

  2. I'm usually pretty good at keeping the adaptations separate in my mind, but there have been quite a few cases where I've been severely disappointed (cough, cough - Percy Jackson and Vampire
    Academy). One that I saw and is one of my all time favorite movies before I read the book is The Prestige - while the book is good I definitely prefer the movie. :)

    1. Oh for sure! I've been let down a lot as well, though I definitely try harder to separate the two when that happens :)