Do you judge a movie based on it’s book?

Over the years many movies have been made based on books. One speciality about such movies are that audience never evaluate those movies  just as a creative piece but instead we always tend to draw comparison with its book.”Which is better…the book or movie?”Is the obvious doubt. The book may be spared of a judgement based on the cover but you certainly judge the movie based on its book. While some think Harry potter series of books are way better than films others think movies like  Godfather and Jaws were better than book itself. I am not here to discuss ten books better than movies or vice versa. I was keener on knowing what’s the impact on the viewer who has read its book version- their experience , does the sequence one follow and preferences tamper your opinion or what do people generally prefer to do i.e  read ->watch or watch -> read.

Most of the times audience have preferred books over their adaptation into movies ,though at times movies have taken the cake away. The probable reason many dislike a movie which they have read could be (excluding the obvious reason that movie was a bad one) that the imagery do not match to what they have visualised or when characters do not have the depth of emotions what they felt while reading. When you are watching a movie you are witnessing the events while reading you are experiencing everything through those characters. While reading ,as plot progress you can travel through the thought process of every well written character .Every nuances like the sigh or grim face are mentioned so  it register to the reader and you know about  it. While most of it seeps out in the dramatisation and glitz of movie. We feel the light wind and rattling of leaves while walking down the boulevard during reading whereas in movies it might end up as just a walk on asphalt road. Another reason could be that movies have time constrain .When a full length novel which you have lived through gets converted to a feature film of 2 to 3 hours it might lose the essence of it or many of the things you thought were valid could be skimmed over. Moreover when a novel  is converted to screen play and  delivered to audience through dialogue it requires utmost skill to prevent those emotions from coming across without draining away.

We often see books made into films but rarely have we seen Films converted to book. Reason could be that the best part of reading is the liberty of interpretation of the reader. The reader is free to visualise what one reads , but if we have literally seen what we read beforehand in a  movie , that kind of takes away the whole purpose of reading. That could be the reason many prefer to read first and then watch its movie. So that they can have their version of Hogwarts first and then watch/evaluate director’s version . What happens when you watch and then read a book. Does that effect other way around …does the visual impression a movie left prevent us from interpreting or imagining while reading  and lose the entire charm of reading ? I was curious to know what others preferred and why. I was also doubtful whether our general personal preferences of medium (like books over movies) can influence our choice. May be an ardent reader might enjoy book version where as movie buff may like otherwise. That’s the reason I asked people of all categories like readers, writers and movie enthusiast about it. This is what they shared.

Ruchi Singh who is a famous author and avid reader said “I prefer to read the book first, but I see the movie with an open mind and enjoy both if done well. 🙂 “. Many replies were in the same line which was pretty much my inference too. On enquiring Simran a friend who equally enjoys both mediums said “Visuals have more effect on memory and films are not detailed as books so it’s not that beneficial for me to watch it first”. Whereas Sonali who watches movies critically recollected watching Eat, Pray and Love   Life of Pie , Not without my daughter as well as reading them. This was her conclusion “better experience is movie -> Book. It’s mostly disappointing if it’s done other way around. If I have to chose one. It will be the book. Movies always disappoint if you have read the book already”. That’s a smart move indeed.

 Reet Singh who is also a popular and accomplished writer had an interesting observation to share. “Honestly speaking – if I read the book first, I hate the movie adaptation of it, and if I see the movie first, I hate the book “she said.  How many of you have felt this is true? In fact I would like to share a personal experience in this regard. Mostly I watch movie after reading a book. I remember watching the movie “A Walk to remember“ first and then reading the novel later. Though I totally enjoy Nicholas Spark’s books I remember enjoying the movie slightly more than the book. Where as a friend of mine who read the book and then watched the same movie enjoyed the book more. Therefore there could be a chance such a phenomenon actually exist provided both are quality crafts.

I understand this movie book cycle is pretty indecisive so do not wish to make any hard and fast conclusions. Personally for me if I read something good or watch a wonderful movie I would prefer to leave it untouched safe in my favourite zone. I will not dare to revamp someone’s work just because of the fear of jeopardizing it. I wonder what makes directors take up books as basis for their movies; may be liking for the book or a vision that there is much more scope in the story which a director could exploit . Whatever be it, creative endeavours are made with much heart and soul therefore I feel each of it deserves a fair chance. So let the quality of each craft decide its own destiny.

Do you have any personal preferences and experience of reading a book as well as watching it ? …Go ahead and share here. Happy reading and watching .


Thank you Reet Singh ma’am and Ruchi Singh ma’am for sharing opinion.

Picture courtesy : Rightful owner



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