Discussion: The Benefits of Book Adaptations

Book adaptations have taken Hollywood by storm recently. From well-loved classics to comic book blockbusters, and Young Adult coming of age stories, books are a crucial source for the entertainment industry. With Netflix buying the rights to 50 literary projects we can expect a lot more adaptations in the near future. Now, while some may complain about the sheer number of book adaptations in the making, you cannot deny the impact they’ve had on the industry. In most cases, the books are always better, and some films should not be called adaptations – Percy Jackson – but there are so many reasons as to why we shouldn’t shun book adaptations. Here are some of the benefits that come from book adaptations.

1. A Wider Audience

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The fact is, book adaptations are going to appeal to the masses and that’s not a bad thing because while the book adaptation draws readers to the film, the film simultaneously introduces non-readers to the book. With every book adaptation, the film takes its concept from the source material, but given the time restraint given to films, elements of the book won’t make it to the screen. Therefore, characters or themes movie-goers feel are cast aside have the chance to gain a deeper insight into those elements through reading the book. Of course, that is not always the case, but book adaptations are additional publicity for the book, especially if its an adaptation of a lesser-known book. There are also multiple ways to promote the book alongside the film with tie-in covers or special editions being released, satisfying both the movie-goers and the readers.

2. Your Favourite Characters Done Right

Have you ever finished a book and thought that more could be done with the characters? Admittedly, that is the sad reality for some books. It could be that the book was well written but some elements needed to be fleshed out better. Or, it could simply be that the characters you love most from the books have been given the care and respect they deserve and the film/TV adaptation has heightened that connection between the reader and character. When the team in charge of the development of the book adaptation demonstrate a level of care for the story and the characters, it’s easier to connect with elements of the book that made you love it in the first place. 

3. Two Separate Entities

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It is easy to draw comparisons between the book and film, but doing that often leads to disappointment. I’ve been guilty of making these comparisons, but over the years I’ve discovered it’s best to view the book and the film as two separate entities.

If you think about the logistics of it all, it’s really hard to turn a 400+ page book into a 2 hour film. Due to such time constraint, scenes and characters are bound to be cut out of the final production. On top of that, some moments simply don’t translate well on screen. Take a book with a strong first-person narrative. You have to find a way to translate these characters inner thoughts and feelings into a visual representation of those moments. Therefore, the film has to find a way of adapting it into a scene that’s in keeping with their own narrative. What’s important is that the film captures the essence of the book in its own light. It’s natural to want to draw comparisons and criticize the adaptation for what it lacks, but when you think about the different requirements in producing a TV or film adaptation, it’s easier to look at it as a separate entity.

At the end of the day the film is an interpretation of the book, and isn’t that what reading is all about? The beauty of reading is in its interpretation. No reading experience is the same and a film is just another interpretation of the story you love, continuing the discussion that started with the book.

Best Book Adaptations

Lord of the Rings

The Lord of the Rings trilogy remains to be one of the most epic fantasy film franchise in history. These films are a perfect example of taking the core components of the film and turning it into a visual journey that perfectly captures the sense of adventure, danger, and bonds of friendship.

The Martian

Admittedly, I’ve not read the book, but I’ve spoken to quite a few people who loved both the book and the film saying that while it deviated from the books, as expected, it still captured the spirit of the book. It also demonstrates the compelling nature of travelling in space and did an impressive job of aesthetically featuring Mars as a character of its own, with it’s imposing visual structure and the challenges this planet presents our main character. Plus, Sean Bean’s throwaway Lord of the Rings comment was a fangirl highlight.

Catching Fire

Twilight usually gets the credit for kicking off this trend in YA adaptation, but The Hunger Games series took these adaptations to new heights and demonstrated the quality that can come from a Young Adult adaptation. Now, the only reason the first film isn’t featured is that it was the weakest instalment to the franchise. Catching Fire was a massive step up in the storytelling and the visual impact of this adaptation.

What do you think of book adaptations?
Do you have a favourite adaptation?
Can the film ever be better than the book?

21 thoughts on “Discussion: The Benefits of Book Adaptations

  1. I agree that The Hunger Games movies are wonderful adaptations!! And I do think that recent adaptations have been really great, compared to some older ones (Percy Jackson), since moviemakers are realizing what the book readers want. I do love when a book gets more recognition because of an adaptation!

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    1. I think it helps when filmmakers are just as passionate about the book as well. Readers can easily spot the difference between productions that are seen as pure money makers in comparison to those made out of genuine passion.

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    1. LOTR remains to be my favourite film franchise ever!! I was surprised by how much I loved the Martian cause I wasn’t expecting so much comedy from the film. The books will always come first when it’s the Hunger games, but they did a good job with the adaptations.

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      1. It’s so goooooooooooooooooooooooooood!!! I always love re-watching it, especially the extended versions!! I laughed so hard while watching The Martian. Matt Damon is also just a fantastic actor (IMO). They did! I was pleasantly surprised with The Hunger Games. They picked the PERFECT actor for Snow ❤ ❤ ❤

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  2. I love that they are adapting so many books, because I am seeing so many people running out to read the books after seeing the films/shows. Anything that encourages people to read is a positive thing in my book. I don’t expect the adaptation to be just like the book. They can’t make 10 hour long movies, but I want the essence of the book preserved. I think that was accomplished well with To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, Dumplin’, and Dear Simon. Some of the best adaptations I have seen had the screenplays written by the authors (Me, and Earl, and the Dying Girl, Perks of Being a Wallflower).

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    1. That is exactly my thinking. If book adaptations spark a curiosity in non readers then should make as many adaptations as possible. It’s unrealistic to expect a page by page adaptation, but like you said if they capture the essence of the book then I’m happy. I completely forgot about Perks of Being a Wallflower!! I adored that adaptation.

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  3. This is a wonderful post! I have to say that, if I’m always a little nervous about adaptations, these are great ways for some awesome stories to reach a wider audience and that always makes me so, so, very happy. ❤ I also thought that the Catching Fire adaptation was quite brilliant, I really enjoyed it a lot!! 🙂

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    1. I think it’s natural to be nervous. I know I am because the characters are so dear to you. I think it helps that publishing houses and filmmakers usually have a good relationship so they can capitalise on the book from both sides. I think catching fire will always be the best of the film franchise.

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  4. Very interesting perspective Lois! I am not one for TV or movies in general, but I’ve often avoided adaptations because I’m usually disappointing. You made an excellent point about the fact that adapting a book into a 90 minute film is probably more challenging than I give movie makers credit for. I should think of film adaptations more as “inspired by” the book…

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  5. So many people are hating on book to movie/screen adaptations but I have always been for it. I notice how I sometimes enjoy whatever I read or watch first more, but it depends a loooot on how much time lies between the two. And it’s not that I don’t like the other thing, I just sometimes get super bored when I know exactly what’s happening.

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    1. I think film adaptations have the benefit of capturing the essence of the book by cutting out those filler moments as well. It’s just easier to look at both mediums as seperate entity. It’s less stress and if I don’t like the film/book at least I’ve got the other one to fall back to haha.

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