Stories from the big screen to the fine print
BY ELEANOR LEWIS ON FEBRUARY 21, 2014
Whenever a piece of literature is made into a movie, the refrain, “the book is better than the movie,” is an annoying addition to any discussion; because the phrase doesn’t always have to ring true. I may not be able to plow through the 1,260 pages of Victor Hugo’s “Les Misérables”, but anyone can feel the power of Anne Hathaway’s haunting performance as Fantine in the film adaptation.
Sometimes, a story takes on a whole new light when turned into a movie. Cuts and additions change the flow and feel of a story. And that’s just it; books and their movie counterparts are different. From a mountain of marvelous stories, I’ve drawn up a list of books that are different from their movies and should be read:
“The Hunger Games.” Suzanne Collins’ daring, post-apocalyptic trilogy is a separate entity from the action flick starring Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth and a drunk Woody Harrelson. Yes, it is a story where teenagers kill each other, and the scenes in the arena get your heart racing, even in print. In the books, the story is narrated inside Katniss Everdeen’s head, present tense. The reader is with her every breath: when she pulls back her bow, releases an arrow and explores the Capitol menu. The internal commentary, lost in the transition to film, is worth the additional effort. If you’ve seen the movie and think you already know what will happen, think again. There are exciting plot points left by the wayside and even some characters (never heard of Madge before have you).
“Perks of Being a Wallflower.” The book is in the form of letters written by “Charlie,” the alias of the main character, who is writing as a relief from the problems in his life. This novel goes into some heavy topics including drugs, sexuality, abuse, abortion, suicide and mental illness. The intensity of Charlie’s love and loss is somewhat dulled in the film but they still managed to address a number of these controversial issues while maintaining a PG-13 rating. If depicted in full, Charlie’s story certainly could not have maintained that relatively low rating, but as the story deals with the issues of a freshman in high school, it becomes a vehicle to acknowledge that these are very adult issues being dealt with by a young generation. The story is certainly not just for teenagers, and the book is such an interesting, in-depth commentary on these issues, it is not to be missed.
“The Da Vinci Code.” This puzzle-saturated action flick is the only story on this list that didn’t make me cry. The movie is fun; Tom Hanks takes up an ancient quest. But a two hour movie can’t begin to address the depth of artistic and historical background provided in a 600 page book which enriches the mind boggling story. In this case, I am partial to the book, if for no other reason than because Hanks is not the sexy professor with a voice that is “chocolate to the ears,” described by Dan Brown in the novel.
“Pride and Prejudice.” Any version of this story is fantastic. In print, film, video blog: I eat it up. The book has its value in Jane Austin’s beautiful writing and perfectly flawed characters. Any boy trying to understand the female mind needs to read this, or at least invest the two hours it will take to watch Keira Knightley in the 2005 film. Trust me, you will thank me later.
All of these stories have merit no matter their medium, and be sure to check out some upcoming film adaptations. “The Fault in Our Stars” and “Divergent,” are both movies of young adult fiction novels set for theaters in 2014. “The Fault in Our Stars” is not your average cancer book, and although it has a female narrator, it’s not ‘girly.’ TIME magazine dubbed it “an existential tragedy of tremendous intelligence and courage and sadness.” “Divergent” is comparable to “The Hunger Games” in that it is post apocalyptic, but the society created by Veronica Roth explores the roles of personality, power and heart in individuals. Both movies star Shailene Woodley and fans of the books are anxious to see how she will hold up as the beloved Hazel Grace Lancaster and Tris Prior.
Though the book vs. movie debate still abounds, you can decide for yourself whether to pick a side or see the beauty in both.