Updated: Jan 17, 2022
Often do bookworms agree that film/TV adaptations are not on par with their literary sources, nor do they give the satisfaction as equal as the silent power of written words could.
Readers would prefer the mobility of a book, the ability to transport into worlds as partly conjured by the author and the reader's imagination. No matter how good an Oscar or Emmy-award winning adaptation is, to most, it is quite profane to say that films or tv shows are superior to books.
As someone who started out as a reader and has learned to love films, visuals directed with proper execution accompanied with a powerful score is an immediacy that text or words cannot match. There is a distinctive adrenaline rush that you get to experience in films only, most especially when a film score elicits emotions out of you. However, I do believe that it takes talent, passion, and study for professional filmmakers and artists to meet expectations from an audience who already has established a set of standards for literary media they've consumed.
Growing up with an evolving taste for both films and books, the never-ending debate of which medium is better than the other stopped becoming one. Today, I am very much more open to filmmakers testing their creativity by revising some literary context to make them feasible on screen, or taking context from one part of a book series and using it to create their own vision, so long as the changes made in the films or tv shows are handled properly for them to work well on the narrative.
With that said, here's a list, in no particular order, of my favorite book-to-film/tv adaptations, which convinced me I could enjoy adaptations as much as I do with their source materials because they were handled so well by the crew involved in the on and off-screen storytelling:
· Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (2014, dir. by David Fincher)
· Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane (2010, dir. by Martin Scorsese)
· Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (2019, dir. by Greta Gerwig) - I honestly loved how the film reframed the story in flashbacks and how Amy March, my least favorite March sister in the books, just became my favorite (along with Jo) with the way she was written in the movie.
· Schindler's List by Thomas Keneally (1993, dir. by Steven Spielberg) - The musical score by John Williams!!!!! The visual imagery!!!
· Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (2013, dir. Francis Lawrence) - I honestly believe no other YA dystopian book-to-movie adaptation has come at par with the excellence that was Catching Fire. It's a modern classic.
· Normal People by Sally Rooney (2020, Hulu) - One of the rarest cases out there where the adaptation surpasses its source material. Rooney, as both the author and screenwriter, did such an exemplary job for both. Honestly, treat yourselves with this masterpiece.
· Pride and Prejudice (2005, dir. Joe Wright) - Every frame of this film is ART. It's like watching sequences of painted figures and scenes come to life. Add to that, the stellar performances from Keira Knightley (Elizabeth Bennet) and Matthew Macfadyen (Fitzwilliam Darcy) will hook you in.
· Hannibal, adapted from Thomas Harris' novels (2013-2015, NBC) - Just imagine fanfiction written, performed, and directed so well that despite taking context from its original sources and reframing them into this gothic, crime procedural show, that centers on the complex relationship between Hannibal Lecter and Will Graham, it took off and went on a successful three-season run while garnering itself a cult of fans. NBC's Hannibal is honestly one of the best tv shows I've ever seen and it deserves a separate review post of its own.
These are just among the few pieces of media I've mentioned, and there are so much more that I wish I could elaborate on. Hopefully, when I'm not time-constrained by work, I could write with more detail on the differences of these shows and their literary sources.
Nevertheless, what matters most is the influence and experience of life encountered from both powerful forms of art.