Movies v.s. Books.*
The age old debate.
Okay, maybe not age old. But it is still one of the most heated and important debates of our time. It's probably second in gravity only to the "who shot first, Han or Greedo" debate. (HAN PEOPLE HAN!)
Nerdiness aside, I am here to officially settle the debate once and for all!
The answer is...the whole thing is INVALID!
That's right. Completely and totally invalid.
It's like comparing Van Gogh to Mozart.
Or paper clips to toothpicks.
Or smart phones to televisions.
In case you didn't see where I am going with this, I'll just say it. They are both two entirely different and unrelated works of art. Sure, they do have some vague similarities, but so do all humans and all humans are not related.
(And yes, a toothpick is totally a work of art.)
Now, I confess, I used to be a passionate member of this debate on the side of books. I have only recently learned the ill of my ways and adjusted my course. Here is how I found the light in this...
A very good friend of mine asked me to write a script for her an some of my friends. I complied, thinking it would be easy. It's just dialogue, right? I love dialogue!
Boy, was I wrong.
It was a pain to write. I liked the story okay, but for some reason, everything seemed so cliche and awkward. The characters did not come to life like I wanted them too. But, cuz I'm awesome, instead of giving up I decided to learn more and adjust my ways.
I asked for scriptwriting books for Christmas, and my epic friends and family complied. Long story short, I have officially read three incredibly awesome books on screenwriting. And I have come to realize quite a lot.
Just like music and painting are two different kinds of art that should not be compared, so are movies and books. Here are my reasons why:
1. The amount of collaboration is different.
True, in books you have the author, editors, readers, cover designers, and in awesome cases publishers who contribute. But ultimately, all power lies with the author. The author chooses how the characters are portrayed, the author designs the setting and the story, the author chooses point of view. Everything that defines the "book" is in the author's control.
Movies are very different. Movies start with the scriptwriter, who would have vividly pictured the characters, scenery, costumes, make-up etc. in his mind. But then it goes to the director, the producer, the casting board, the actors, the costume designer, the scenery designer, the camera men, the special effects dudes, the musicians, the composers, the lighting directors, the extras director etc. The writer has no control over his story now. Despite what they might think, the directors have no control over the actors. The actors have no control over the music. The composers have no control over the costume designers. I'm sure in every movie dozens and dozens of arguments arise over simple, tedious things like whether the character should have a bracelet or not, or whether the scene should take place at night or day.
It's amazing there are as many good movies as there are today. Or, maybe it's not amazing. Maybe all the input from so many different people who specialize in different fields make it so much better.
Still, it is two totally different ways of making it.
2. The story itself is wholly different.
In novels, you can get inside the character's head and know their plans and what they are thinking. In movies, you don't get that. They have to think of other ways of relaying the character's plan to you, or perhaps simply letting you watch and learn. This can drastically change the rundown of a story. The two types of stories must be totally different for them both to be enjoyable. If a book never let you inside the character's head and kept you "watching" the character, you would begin to be frustrated because you could not "relate."
But if a movie was filled with thought voice overs from the characters so you know their every thought, you would accuse the writers of lazy writing. (And rightfully so!)
And that is just one example of the many differences between book and movie stories.
You don't need any imagination when watching a movie. It's all right there for you. With a book though, your imagination must be working all the time.
So there you have it! Three reasons why movies and books should not be compared. You might prefer one over the other, but you can't debate and argue preference because it is different for everybody. Personally, I would rather go to an art museum and look at paintings than sit through an orchestra playing Beethoven's symphony No. 5. But that is simply my preference. Other's might like to hear beautiful music than go stand in a quiet museum. I can't argue which is better though, which is why movies and books should not be argued.
I will say, from discovering this, I have gained an entire new level of respect for all the work that goes into even the crummiest of movies. And to consider all the work that must go into an epic movie like, say, The Avengers or The Hobbit...it blows my mind! I don't know how everyone does it, but I would love to be a part of it someday.
*This post is not about movies made from or based on books. I'll cover that in another post. I was simply talking about movies and books in general.