This is a phrase I hear myself saying regularly. It’s an adage I firmly believe in; more often than not, the book precedes the film and so is the original. Books can go into more detail than films, and allow the imagination free reign. Annoying characters are found far less in writing as we have the ability to shape them, rather than being handed a fully-formed personality by an actor who may have different perceptions of how to interpret that character. They say that a picture speaks a thousand words, yet one word can also elicit a thousand different pictures when read by different people, in different circumstances and moods. Being able to choose how the character appears allows wonderful variation from reader to reader, making the experience more personal for each of them. Also, sometimes when turning a book into a film, odd and seemingly unnecessary changes are made to the plot which can leave many readers perplexed and annoyed. I do love films as well, but usually enjoy them more if they aren’t based on a book, or at least not one that I’ve read.
However, there are some exceptions to this rule. As mentioned before, I think the film of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is better than the book. Another major example is Hannibal Rising by Thomas Harris. I’d seen the film first, and while it wasn’t as good as Silence of the Lambs, it was alright. I was expecting the book to go into more depth and to further explore the character of a psychopath. I was disappointed. It read exactly like the film, employing none of the techniques available to books for better effect, no inner monologues or exact description to highlight certain aspects of a scene. It felt more like a script than a book, and in this case the horror and violence was better portrayed on film.
Do you know any other films that beat the book?