Monday, January 23, 2006

Collected Miscellany: Books versus films

Collected Miscellany This is a blog entry about films of books. The author says that books are generally better, and I agree. If one sees a film where one has read the book, best to try to put the book completely out of one's mind for the duration. The question asked in CM's blog entry is whether the new "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" movie is better than the old one, thus is not inviting debate on the "film vs book" question, which has presumably been much debated already. He does mention in passing, though that he enjoyed the book of the Lord of the Rings more than the films. I kind of agree, but having tried and given up on the book when a child and never having gone back to it, I found that the films were very good at providing context for the reader. The book was very wooden in places, and described some dramatic events in cursory detail (see my earlier posting on 27 December 2005). "Ultimately", to use a cliched term, I did find the book far richer than the films despite its occasional lapses, and more satisfying, but I probably would not have done had I not seen the films first. Does this make sense? (And CB does not say whether he saw the EEs of the LOTR films, or the theatrical versions, which makes a big difference. It also makes a difference if you saw the films a year apart each, or if you saw them relatively close together.) One film I thought almost as good as the book was John Schlesinger's "Far From the Madding Crowd". Apart from one or two small details (I recall that Julie Christie as Bathsheba Everdene had blonde hair instead of black), it was both a faithful adaptation of the book and dramatically absorbing. I remember enjoying the movie a lot, but probably not quite as much as the book.