Columnist discusses film versus literature

By Isaac Mathewson

Whenever a film adaptation of a famous book is released, there is almost always someone who’s quick to say “It’s not as good as the book.” Others, especially younger people, will say “You can’t understand the film unless you read the book.”

This issue has been present since the beginning of cinema. There are people who defend either side, with some defending both as they are separate art forms that are equal in value, and others who say that there really is not much room for two, you have to pick one or the other. This has led to a rising conflict between the two biggest art forms in the world — film and literature.

The truth is that both of them have strengths and weaknesses and they should be looked at in different angles. Literature gives better descriptions as well as an opportunity to learn new things and create imagination, all while telling a good story. Film is more to be enjoyed for admiration for the actors as well as all the hard work that goes into the making and writing of them. Both are terrific art forms that stimulate the mind and help people think.

However, that is not what the general public takes issue with. Many people believe that film is solely for entertainment and that only literature has any educational or artistic value. I find that statement to be absolutely appalling, because film packs a great amount of artistic value and there are many great careers in the industry. Cinema is a very young form of art and many older people who grew up on folklore and literature often tend to dismiss it as overblown rubbish. Fortunately, there are many people who support film as they consider it a very important form of art and is a new look on classic stories brought to life in different ways.

Of course, as I mentioned earlier, there are many people who say that movies that are adaptations of classic works can never be seen as their own story. They believe that books are virtually entirely better than movies. Again, I cannot agree with that statement because many films based off of books have worked perfectly well on their own, such as The Lord of the RingsHarry Potter, and Gone with the Wind. It all really comes down to which version was really better, the book or the movie, neither one is better simply because of their art form.

Another thing worth mentioning is whether it’s necessary for an audience member to see the book that the film is based on in order to understand it. I say this as an experienced critic and writer, it is not. I have seen many movies based off of books, and I haven’t read the books to most of them. These include some of my favorite movies such as The Silence of the Lambs, GoodFellas, A Clockwork Orange,and even the original Godfather, and I can still get through these films just fine. Maybe some movies nowadays are for people who read the books, such as The Hunger Games and Divergent, and if that were the case, I’d like these movies less. But in all honesty, sometimes that’s the fun of cinema, not knowing about what you are watching and where it came from and seeing it in a new and different way.

It really all goes down to opinion. In reality, no art form is better than the other, just the work that they depict. The main question shouldn’t be which is better; books or movies? The question should be: which version did it better; the book or the movie. There are people who prefer one form over the other and that is perfectly fine. However, no one should hate on either because they are entirely different.

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