Which was better, the movie or the book? This is an age-old question that has sparked many a heated debate. Adapting books into movies is an art form in itself. Sometimes the movies do get it right, capturing the essence of the books through a visual medium, showing us scenes that we could only dream about.
But let’s not forget that the source materials of these movies still have much to offer that simply cannot be put into the film. Whether it was to cut the movie short, or due to artistic decisions from the filmmakers, the movies can never truly be exactly like the books.
So, if you enjoyed watching these movies, then why not check out the inspiration behind them? You might come out appreciating one or the other a bit more.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
A cool detail for Perks was that it was Stephen Chbosky who adapted his story for the screen and directed the film. It was no wonder that the movie was just as great as the book.
Written as a series of letters, quiet and observant Charlie recounts his high school experience to an unknown recipient. Used to living life on the sidelines, everything changes when he is taken under the wing of outspoken Patrick and enigmatic Sam. This coming of age will have you laughing, crying, and cringing all at once, making you wish you had the same energetic upperclassmen to help you navigate life as well.
The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians series) by Rick Riordan
Another book-to-screen adaptation starring the Logan Lerman. If the two (not so faithful) Percy Jackson movies left you wanting more, then Rick Riordan definitely delivers. This series contains 5 books in total, with three not being adapted into movies. While the movies were just as fantastical and adventurous as the books, some details were missed which made the movies lack the same magic the books had. And if you’re still thirsting for more, Percy’s story continues in the grand The Heroes of Olympus series.
While waiting for the promising (*fingers crossed*) new Percy Jackson show, why not binge out on the books first? Narrated by a sassy demigod, Percy Jackson is about to discover that he is more than just a “troubled” kid. Along with other demigod teens and preteens that turn out to be some of the most powerful heroes we could ever hope for. This ragtag team is constantly on the quest to appease the fickle gods (good ‘ol mom or dad) and protect the unknowing mortals.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote
The character of Holly Golightly was made forever famous by the iconic Audrey Hepburn. Who can ever forget her chic style and the energetic yet elusive life she breathed into the character?
Go deeper into the mind of Holly Golightly in Truman Capote’s novella of the same name. Seemingly always on the move, Holly Golightly will see her dreams through in one way or another (with Tiffany’s to recenter her if she ever gets the mean reds). See her as the inquisitive writer Paul Varjak saw her if he ever really did see her—the real her. Discover the small (and big) changes that were made when adapting the movie and see the story in an entirely new light.
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
With other adaptations, the cake may be taken by the 1995 film adaptation of Sense and Sensibility. This film flexed a powerhouse cast including the likes of Kate Winslet, Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson, and Alan Rickman. Emma Thompson herself adapted the novel for the screen, also playing a lead role as Elinor. With stunning performances by the cast, they were also able to prove their power in subtleties—both in acting and in the way that the story was slightly edited to be better suited for the screen.
Forced to flee their father’s house after his passing, because of inheritance laws of the time, two sisters adjust to their new life in completely different manners. Elinor is the older sister. She is calm and deals with matters with her head above her heart. On the other hand, younger Marianne, lives her life with her heart on her sleeve. As both sisters come into contact with love, they learn that life cannot simply be lived with one or the other. They must learn to carefully balance their heads and their hearts to find the happily ever afters that they long for.
Coraline by Neil Gaiman
A stop-motion classic, Coraline may be the perfect mix of cozy and creepy. The cast and crew were brilliantly able to bring the words of Neil Gaiman to life. In this chilling children’s story, Neil Gaiman writes about courage. If you thought the film was creepy wait till you read this book. Night or day, you’ll feel chills crawl all over your body with the additional details Neil Gaiman includes in the story and the eerie illustrations by Dave McKean.
Coraline Jones just moved into a new rainy and boring place. With her parents barely listening to her and a peculiar cast of neighbors, Coraline wishes that things were different. One day, she enters a small door in the wall where things are different. It seems like things are exactly the way she wants it to be. Her Other Mother in this world lets her know that she can stay there forever if she wishes… for a price.
Stardust by Neil Gaiman
While we’re on the topic of Neil Gaiman’s prose prowess… Stardust may be another example of his books that were made perfect on screen. It seems his work just has the tendency to be perfect for both the screen and text. Go along the star-studded cast on this adventure that begins outside the borders of Wall. While the movie may have switched around some details, in the best way, the novel contains just as much adventure and self-discovery as any good and meaningful fairytale should.
Catch a falling star and put it… on a leash? When Tristan Thorn promises a girl that he would retrieve a falling star for her hand in marriage, he never would have thought he’d find a person for a star. With this already magical plot, Gaiman sets it in an even more magical setting. In this world, witches try to stay young forever and princes scour the land for a jewel that will proclaim them as king.
Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 by Cho Nam-Joo
The Guardian described Kim Jiyoung as a character that “can be seen as a sort of sacrifice: a protagonist who is broken in order to open up a channel for collective rage.” Visually seeing the character of Kim Jiyoung onscreen is heartbreaking, with the pain and rage made even more intense by the familiarity that many women can feel with her experiences. The performances were real and heart-wrenching. The novel adds an extra element of legitimacy to the story by citing all sources for the claims mentioned in the story, bringing the fictional story into the realm of reality by basing it on accurate statistics and real studies. Despite the fiction of Kim Jiyoung’s story, it is a reality that so many women don’t have to imagine.
All her life, Kim Jiyoung has faced discrimination based on one thing she can’t control: having been born a woman. And yet, all her life, Kim Jiyoung didn’t realize anything was wrong— that’s just the way things always were. But one day, Kim Jiyoung starts behaving peculiarly.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series) by Douglas Adams
The 2005 film rendition of Douglas Adam’s story used a plethora of techniques like stop motion, animation, and voice-over to tell the colorful story that is The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Creating the perfect feeling of whimsical and bizarre. The hilarious mishap adventure of Arthur Dent and his friends has been told as a radio and TV show, film, comic, book series, and even a computer game. Though, the five-novel series may be a great place to start with the story.
The Earth is about to be blown up to make room for a galactic freeway. Arthur Dent’s friend Ford Prefect arms the both of them with towels and sticks their thumbs up in the air. Don’t Panic! Intergalactic travel is made easy with The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which Ford has spent years researching. Experience Douglas Adam’s intensely unique world-building and first-class humor with this side-splitting series.
Trainspotting (Mark Renton series) by Irvine Welsh
The story of Mark Renton will forever be a cult classic. Up tempo and brutally honest, the Trainspotting movie kept the heart of the novel alive. While Trainspotting may now be considered as the second installment of Irvine Welsh’s Mark Renton series, the first book of the series (Skagboys) is a prequel that came out way after Trainspotting. It isn’t a necessary read before Trainspotting. Reading the book might prove to be a bit of a challenge as some parts were written in Scottish Slang, but it is definitely worth it as some of the details from the T2 Trainspotting movie came from this book as well.
Trainspotting doesn’t just tell the story of Mark Renton. It tells the story of Spud, Sick Boy, Begbie, and much more. As Mark Renton tries to pull away from a drug-laced life, he doesn’t find much reward in the mundane. The source of one of the most well-known monologues, Mark Renton, and the entire cast of Trainspotting question what it really means to choose life.
Dekada ’70 (Ang Orihinal at Kumpletong Edisyon) by Lualhati Bautista
Who can ever forget the powerful story of the Bartolome family as seen through the eyes of matriarch Amanda Bartolome? A story that continues to be highly relevant and important to this day. Played by the extraordinary Vilma Santos, this film is socially and politically charged.
Reading the original text brings you deeper into the mind of Amanda as she reflects on her duties as a mother, a wife, a woman, and a Filipina. The novel also brings readers deep into the caring hands of Lualhati Bautista as she writes Amanda Bartolome as if she was your friend telling you about her life. The word choice and storytelling keep things casual despite the increasing turmoil occurring inside Amanda’s head and on the streets of the Philippines.
While it is great seeing words come to life and comparing our imagination to the filmmaker’s choices, there are some things that only a (good) book can do. Get to the source of your favorite films and learn more than what the film was able to offer.
Who did it better, the movie or the book? Maybe appreciating both separately will help you appreciate both together as they contribute to the story as a whole. Happy reading and happy watching!
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