Impact Arts and Impact Film go head to head in bringing you the ultimate argument: book or film?
The Lord of The Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
22% prefered book
78% prefered film
J.R.R. Tolkien created a world which offered readers escapism on an unprecedented scale. The books contained new languages, civilisations and history all sourced from the imagination of a man who explored creativity to impossible ends. Middle Earth was a new existence, and the narrative brings to life the ultimate battle of good versus evil.
Whether a fan of the films or not, these books have stood (and will undoubtedly continue to stand) the test of time as one of the greatest literary works ever written. You have to look no further than it being the second-best selling book of all time (followed in 6th place by The Hobbit) to understand that the films can never be as good as the sum of its parts.
In Peter Jackson’s adaptation, Tolkien’s lengthy book is stripped bare and jabbed with adrenaline. Tolkien’s love of language and myth builds a new world, but Jackson is the better storyteller. The plot is constantly being driven forward in the film, possessing a momentum not to be found in the book. The emphasis on the bare essentials, and fleshing them out, makes the film version a better story than the book.
The Great Gatsby
89% prefered book
11% prefered film
The Great Gatsby novel touches upon the complexities of human psychology, bringing to life issues that the film fails to recognise. Carey Mulligan’s Daisy has little resemblance with the artificial and childlike character of Fitzgerald’s imagining, and the other characters are merely caricatured versions of Fitzgerald’s more subtle constructions.
The film also leaves out one of the most crucial moments in the novel. After Gatsby’s death, his father returns with a picture of Gatsby’s house in his wallet. This critical scene reveals the deep superficiality of an impersonal father-son relationship. Eliminating this from the film creates a gap in Gatsby’s characterisation, once again leaving the film without the complex narrative Fitzgerald’s novel provides.
The Great Gatsby is without a doubt a classic piece of American literature. It delves into the heart of issues such as wealth, love, death and the American dream. But then came Baz Luhrmann, who brought The Great Gatsby to life in a way that no one expected. Gatsby’s elaborate parties are transformed into the surreal and sensational, on a scale unreachable by the book.
Luhrmann knows exactly how to portray every event of the book, be it saturating the frame with unadulterated wealth at the parties, to leaving it desolately empty in the infamous swimming pool scene. Every aspect of the book that is appreciated when reading, is celebrated on screen.
Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone
69% prefered book
31% prefered film
The world of Harry Potter incarnated in film will undoubtedly see the lifespan of the series prolonged, but the films still fall short of faithful recreation in favour of cinematic melodrama. The different directors have meant that the films are inconsistent; from different use of sound effects, costume, or the way Sirius Black communicates. The films ultimately fail to provide the audience with a world of magic with the same conviction that the books can offer.
Even with Rowling’s lengthy and often laborious descriptive prose, the film world has been rendered with more vitality than ever could have been envisioned when reading the novels. From the snow covered grounds around Christmas, to the cosy interior and warming fireplace of the Gryffindor common room, this was the Hogwarts only suggested by the novel. Rowling’s ability to craft a complex, living and breathing universe improved with each subsequent novel, but for me, it was the film that brought it to life first.
60% prefered book
40% prefered film
Atonement is about books. This is the novel’s thematic core. Ian McEwan, in his novel’s final section, shatters the fourth wall and invalidates everything that came before it. The historical fiction we think we’ve been reading becomes something else entirely: a memoir. A memoir that deliberately alters the past to give the author a second chance to right some wrongs. This offers the reader a moving finale; someone believed writing a novel could change the past.
Atonement is a lovely film, and it makes a valiant attempt to replicate that final chapter, but ultimately the story is still about books, and the reading of books. To understand that, a bound volume, proof of the author’s “penance”, must be physically in your hand. No film could ever replicate that.
Despite the great story provided by the book, nothing meets watching the real people acting out the great love story on screen. McAvoy and Knightley making out in the library is much hotter than the awkward sex scene in the book. The visual beauty in the cinematography can’t come across through writing, and ultimately enhance and bring to life the emotions touched upon by McEwan. The ending of the book leaves the reader with an unsatisfying confusion, which is avoided in the much better explained film adaptation. This makes for a far better experience of the story and all its complexities.
What you said: Book or film?
‘Adaptations of well-known books (books which are extremely complex) never fully live up to the original. They end up being merely illustrations of the book to please the fans.’
‘Books are superior due to films being a limit to the imagination, yet you must always remember to treat both as separate forms of art.’
‘Everything about a book is so much more personal.’
‘I guess it’s not a question of book vs. film, more good adaptation vs. bad adaptation.’
‘Sorry Impact Film, but books are able to present more back story, creating a more immersive world…’
‘I vote for films. as they are more dense and loaded than ‘book people’ realise. And who goes on a date to a library? Case closed.’
‘Books may be the flaming torch of culture, but films will carry the torch into the future.’
‘Films only create a world before the viewer’s eyes, a world which lasts for only as long as the film.’
‘Film is more inspiring and has a larger impact because it physically appeals to the senses in sight and sound.’
‘It’s better to actively read something than passively have it shown to you.’
‘You can’t say whether you ‘prefer’ books or films – they’re completely different media.’
‘Books! You can’t fall in love with a film like you can with a novel. A film is always impersonal.’