Wednesday , November 30 2022
Books vs films: What you should know when seeing adaptation

Books vs films: What you should know when seeing adaptation

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This need for a film to remain intact or to satisfy accuracy emanates from the sentiments the book lovers had attached to the book. What they fail to understand is that a film can never be a book, and a book can never take the place of a film, and this expectation of having everything on paper conveyed safe into audiovisual medium is cynical

The question shouldn’t be which was better. The question should be, “was it a good adaptation?”

It is in light of this that we have put together a guideline of what we believe everyone should know when seeing an adaptation.

1. An adaptation is more or less a translation

It is almost impossible to translate a sentence from one language to another, word for word. And so, sometimes the intended meaning gets lost in translation.

This can be the case with film adaptations when trying to capture the core of a book or whatever material is in focus. This is not to say however that there haven’t been incidences of bad adaptations.

2. The time frame can not be the same

Dear literati, please note that films are naturally shorter and faster. While it can take a reader several hours, weeks or even months to complete a book of 700 pages, a film made from the same book can be consumed in less than 3 hours and here is the real challenge for the filmmaker: determining what should be interpolated, retained or eliminated.

Again, this is not to say there haven’t been excruciatingly bad adaptations.

3. The filmmaker is not in your mind nor you in his!

Books create images that are specifically designed in the mind of the reader’s audience. Each experience is unique and I daresay no two experiences from two different readers can be the same no matter how detailed or prolific the writer is.

So, there’s no need to catch up on our ideas and automatically rule out the interpretation of the filmmaker simply because his/her ideas do not align with ours.

4. Watching before reading might just be better

Try watching a movie before reading the book it was adapted from. Who knows? you may find yourself crying “the movie was better”. This is because the mind has experienced another reality of the same story and purging this experience isn’t as easy as we think.

For example, after seeing The Hate You Give, I got the book and read it. But, it was a struggle to get past the first set of pages without having to picture how some lines were rendered, and how some characters sounded, totally ignoring the original projection of the writer. In this case, the novel which is the original becomes the adaptation.

Books are not films and films are not books. They are different art mediums and serve different doses of entertainment and other purposes. Hence, they should be treated and experienced differently.

If we have this at the back of our minds, there wouldn’t be a need to determine which was better. What we would be asking is if it was a good adaptation.

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