There are countless books and novels out there. Some are fresh off the presses, while some are decades or even centuries old. However, nowadays it seems like every book, regardless of age, is being made into a movie. Two of the most famous book to movie franchises are the Harry Potter series and the Twilight series. The Chronicles of Narnia is another example, as is Alice in Wonderland, Mary Poppins, The Help, The Martian, and A Series of Unfortunate Events. Not to mention all of the movies based off comic books, if we want to count those as books. More and more, we get movies that are based off books. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, is it really a good idea?
The most immediate issue is simply the fact that it’s hard to convey certain events, issues, and emotions between the two mediums. A book can tell you exactly what is going on, exactly what a character is feeling, and exactly what the impact of a decision is in each and every scene. It’s much harder to convey these sorts of things on a movie screen. Which isn’t to say it can’t be done, but you need both a good actor and the right actor, and that doesn’t always happen. When a character’s thoughts, feelings, and emotions are directly told to an audience, then everyone has a better understanding of what’s going on in a scene and a better understanding of why another scene or an action can have significance. But in a movie, characters don’t stop to explain everything; you are along for the ride and you have to figure out some things on your own. This can lead to a murkier understanding and lessens the impact a movie can have.
Admittedly, this goes both ways. Books tend to do a poor job of conveying action in a scene, whereas movies have a definite edge in terms of visual appeal. If, for example, a massive battle is occurring, it’s hard to imagine the sheer scale of it. But in a movie, you can experience the entire thing. You can get close ups to see the emotion of a character and you can get shots that pan around the entire battle. It’s hard to be awed by words on a page, but it’s easy to be awed when you can see it happening for yourself.
Movies and books are always going to be tied together because of their nature; they’re mediums for telling a story. While there are times when a book can work well as a movie, they probably should not be made into movies as often as they are.