The Book or the Movie?

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The Outsiders, The Hunger Games, every single Nicholas Sparks movie – three completely different genres of movies that all have one thing in common: they were all based off a book. While books seem to be losing their popularity compared to movies, the age-old question that will always stand: was the book better than the movie?

Movie fanatics will argue that movies are betters and bookworms will defend books to their graves, but what is the true answer? Should you read the book or watch the movie? No matter how much a person can defend a movie, there is no ignoring the facts that reading the book might be your best option.

One of the amazing things about the human mind, is that we can create any image with in our heads that our imaginations will let us fabricate. A dark castle in the middle of an otherwise bare desert, a rainforest in the middle of a living room, a road painted with every color of the rainbow. We create these images that aren’t like anything we’ve ever seen. The other fascinating thing is that all people may be told to picture a road painted with every color of the rainbow, and every single person will picture it differently. This same concept carries over to what happens when we read books. One of the things that makes reading so captivating, is the fact that we have the power, as readers, to visualize the story in our minds to match how we want it to look. It’s a way of leaving the present atmosphere you are currently reading in, and transcending into the fictional world you have created in your mind filled with characters you read about in the book. It’s a whole other life with in a story. The images become so vivid it almost feels real. One of the most discouraging things about finishing a book is that you feel like you are being cut out of a world that you want to be a part of.

This being said, the biggest difference between books and movies are the connections you make with the places you picture and the characters you place with in them. When you see a movie, you watch the story unfold before you. The characters, the setting, every action made by every person. You feel like you’re watching someone else’s life play out, which in reality is what you are doing. When you read a book, you are also told the story, but you get to create the visuals of it in your head. Instead of sitting and watching it play out, you get to be a part of it, and feel as though you are truly there.

The movie Divergent, based off of a Veronica Roth series, has nothing on the book. We read the trilogy before the movie came out and instantly fell in love. It was set in a dystopian society that believed in the separation of its people based on their physical and emotional strength. The book jumps from the dark, ruthless training rooms of Dauntless, to the open green gardens of Amity. This book described every single aspect of every single setting change, every emotion the characters felt, and every word that was heard being muttered from another character’s mouth. We not only felt like we were there, but we even felt as though we WERE the main character living in this split society. We had never read a book that was so captivating to us. When we went to see the movie, we were disappointed to see that the director had a much different vision of the society than we had. Once you see a true picture of what the story looks like, you lose your version, and the connection you build with the book and the characters are lost. When we read the book we felt like we were physically part of it, but when we watched the movie we felt like we were watching someone else’s life from far away.

Like creating pictures in your head, books also create characters that make you fall in love. When reading a book, it is instantly possible to tell the personality of the character, their likes and dislikes, and anything else you could think of. Books allow the reader to step into the mind of the characters. If it is displayed through first person, you are the character. You are seeing life through his or her eyes, as if you were inside the novel. If it is a third person novel, you are everywhere. You are inside the main characters mind as well as the next door neighbor’s mind. You are not missing anything when you are the character.

Movies, however, are quite the opposite of this. Instead of being inside of the characters’ minds, the watcher is simply watching. Watching what the character is doing without knowing what he or she is thinking, feeling, or experiencing. You miss so much as the watcher. You do not know the exact thoughts running through the characters’ minds when the climax of the movie hits. You do not know how they feel after they break up with the love of their life. You do not know anything beyond what you can see. Books are the character’s brains. They give you the ability to dive deep inside their minds and allow you to truly understand the character. Because you cannot do this with movies, you miss so much. By not being able to know how the character is feeling, that distorts him or her in the movie.

The famous Harry Potter series was adapted into movies and can arguably be one of the most popular movie series in the world. However, all of the characters seem to be different than they were in the books. Take the star of the series, Harry Potter. From the very beginning of the series it is obvious that Harry was born with the short end of the stick, and throughout the series it becomes more and more obvious. Jumping to the fifth book/movie, The Order of the Phoenix is when Harry finally lets the anxiety and pressure get to him. However, in the movies, it is almost impossible to understand this.

The fifth movie is the one movie we always try to avoid, because no matter how many times we watch it, we cannot get over how dramatic and winy Harry seems. Yet in the books, we would never call Harry either of those words. When reading the novel we were able to know how each event affected Harry and why he acted the way he did. We knew why he wanted to ignore his friends and felt as if he did not belong in the world, but in the movies, one would never know this. By writing her novels, J.K. Rowling gave us access to Harry’s mind, something the movies could not even try to do.

Though book nerds could argue on and on about what books have and movies do not, there are also many benefits to having a book turned into a film. The world is divided into two on this topic, and may never come to a mutual agreement because there will always be one person saying “the book was better” and another saying “eh, I’m just going to watch the movie.”

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