Have you read The Hunger Games? Have you seen the movie? How about The Help? Movies have always sifted through literature for their inspiration and this season is no exception and although I don’t mind seeing a book-based-movie, I always find myself preferring the book.

Wonder why?

No Do-Overs on Dialogue

Movies only give us one shot at dialogue. If you miss a word, say someone sneezes or the sound track surges, you’ll spend the rest of the movie wondering “Who was hit by a car – her dad or her dog?” You can’t flip back a chapter to review a scene when you miss something.

Perfect is Impossible

Unfortunately movies must use fallible human beings to portray our heroes. True they look nearly perfect, but one errant expression and Matthew McConaughey can appear downright unbalanced. No matter how good of an actor they are they rarely become the character as completely as the figure you’ve conjured off the page. And the same goes for the other elements. The scenery is never as stunning, the dress never as beautiful, and the villain is never as scary as we’ve pictured him.

A Tease

Books can keep you in suspense. They hold their secrets longer than movies. Who will survive? Will the boy get the girl? Will justice be served? With a movie you hardly have time to worry about the outcome  – all of your questions will be answered in the next two hours. A novel, on the other hand, will torment you for days, maybe weeks. You’ll fret over your frying pan, you’ll agonize over your algebra. The tantalizing world of your story waits as a reward for when you complete your duties and you can immerse yourself again.

The Head Case

But the most compelling reason of all to prefer books over movies is that books allow you inside the characters’ thoughts and the author’s voice. In a movie we’d miss Jane Austen’s witty descriptions and Elizabeth Bennett’s mental gymnastics as she makes out Mr. Darcy’s character. When the scene is before us on the big screen, we see everything through our own experiences instead of hearing the POV character’s slant. Actresses can’t  portray every thought with eyebrows and grimaces. That’s why we have language.

As a medium, movies have some advantages, but when I’m looking to lose myself in a story, I much prefer the book.

How about you? What’s your favorite book to movie adaptation? Why do you prefer books (if you do)?

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