Why the book is almost always better than the movie

Holly Viers • Dec 28, 2017 at 7:00 PM

I recently came across a T-shirt at a local bookstore that displayed one simple phrase: “The Book Was Better.” In most cases, I couldn’t agree more.

In my years of reading books that have gone on to become movies, I can’t recall even one instance when I thought the movie was better than the book it’s based on.

There has been one instance, though, when I thought the movie was equally as good as the book. Case in point: “The Fault in Our Stars.”

In case you’re not familiar with “The Fault,” I’ll give you a little background. The book, written by the immensely talented young adult author John Green, was released in 2012, and it went on to become a movie two years later.

Having read the book right before seeing the movie, I thought there would be no possible way the movie could capture the emotion and powerful storytelling in the book. (If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it, though it is a bit of a tearjerker.)

To say I was pleasantly surprised by the movie is an understatement. I was blown away by not only the actors, but also the screenplay; it followed the book almost perfectly, and much of the dialogue was taken directly from the novel.

Not only that, but the movie received mostly favorable reviews from critics — a feat that, as we all know, is often difficult to achieve.

Seeing that movie made me realize what many other books-turned-movies have done wrong: The movies change too much of the books’ story.

I realize that movies can only do so much due to time constraints and limited budgets, but a lot of times, the changes in the storyline seem pointless and poorly conceived. If a screenwriter already has a masterfully written book to use as source material, why make unnecessary changes that will only upset the book’s diehard fans?

Will more screenplay writers follow in the “The Fault’s” footsteps? It’s hard to tell. But if I could offer them one piece of advice, it would be this: Don’t try to fix what’s not broken.

Holly Viers is a general assignment reporter for the Kingsport Times News.

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