So last week I shared my thoughts on why books are better than movies. The post was mostly in response to people who ask me why I bother to read since you can just wait for the movie watch the story faster and with less effort. I had ten very good reasons and in the comments left there were probably another ten mentioned. That said, I love movies as well. Not enough that I would ever give up books, but enough that I realise that some stories are better told on the screen than on the pages.
And that is really the whole point. Juliet Boyd did a follow up to my post asking why we would expect books to make good movies and she raises some excellent points. With that said I would like to jump into my ten reasons why movies are better than books (sometimes).
1. Visually movies are more appealing. To many people a page of text is daunting and dull and they are automatically locked out from accessing the story. Stories are more accessible to a larger number of people in movie form than as books.
2. Leif Motifs – you know the music that plays as one particular character comes on screen. It tells us the bad guy is coming or that the hero is entering the fray and whether we like it or not it gives us a slight emotional charge that just isn’t there when you read it in a book. If you want the perfect example of this, watch Star Wars. Luke Skywalker comes on screen, cue either the wistful music or the hero music. Darth Vadar appears and we have the strong military beat. Han Solo and we get a sense of whimsy and so on.
3. Time is of the essence – I read a lot and I read fast but if I were to spend my entire weekend doing nothing but reading I’d be pushing to finish three novels (admittedly I read fantasy and they tend to be huge but still). If I spend the entire weekend watching movies (unless I’m watching Lord of the Rings or something equally epic) I can probably knock over about twelve movies. Movies skip out a lot of detail that appears in books, plus they don’t need to describe scenes to you, they just flash a picture and move on. They are quicker in conveying the story.
4. Special Effects – Now it has been pointed out that our imagination has no limitations and special effects do so things that sound really good in books sometimes look quite ridiculous in movies. However, my imagination is limited by my sense of reality and so when a book has a car crash I see a little ding and a bit of broken glass, where as a movie will usually just blow the car up in a spectacular show of carnage. Logically I know the car probably wouldn’t blow up but watching it on the screen I can go with it. Reading about it, I will usually tone it down.
5. The social aspect – You can go to the movies with your friends (and if you don’t mind the evil glares you can talk while watching). More importantly, you can watch a movie at home with everyone gathered in the one room chatting and eating and it is a very social experience. I don’t know about you, but when I read, I read. I’ve had people steal the book out of my hands, throw water at me and clap their hands over my eyes to get my attention while I’m reading. It isn’t a social event.
6. Okay I waited until number six for this one and that was very restrained of me. Orlando Bloom, Johnny Depp, Antonio Banderes, etc, etc, etc. Don’t tell me you’ve never chosen a movie just because you thought the main actor was cute. Technically this is part of the visual appeal but I felt it needed to be separate.
7. Action sequences – yes you can read action sequences but I find them quite dull. Particularly sword fights. Please do not describe everything single thrust and parry to me if you expect me to still be reading by the time the battle is over. However, in movies… they define the show don’t tell theory. It is a lot more exciting to watch a sword fight than to read a blow by blow commentary on a sword fight.
8. Previews – I hope I’m not the only person who does this, but I love previews. Half the fun of going to the movies, or renting a movie, is to watch previews and to find out about other movies. Sometimes books have other books by the same author or publisher listed, but they aren’t quite as exciting as movies. I was wondering if now with ebooks and readers whether they could start putting book trailers with books and that would be almost the same but maybe they can’t. I don’t know.
9. Jaws. Read the book. Watch the movie. Toss the book. That is kind of cruel given it is beautifully written but the love triangle is dull and all of the character development takes away from the thrills. The movie focused entirely on the suspense and the thrill and nailed it. The book, for once, was too cluttered. Sorry to anyone who loved reading the book.
10. I kind of ran out at nine so ten is going to frozen coke which I always drink at the movies. I don’t drink it when reading because the condensation leaves water marks on the pages of the book. If you can think of a tenth, be sure to add it.
Tell me your reasons why movies are better.
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