Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Book Is Still Better

I know, I have a running theme when it comes to movie adaptations of books.  In most (not all, but definitely most, in my experience) cases, the book is significantly better than the movie.  I know the old Jim Gaffigan line, too.  "Know what I liked about the movie?  No reading!"  Well, if you're happier with movies than books, you already know that this is likely not the blog for you.  I mean, the title isn't "Trumbull is Watching...", after all.

Do I have a specific example in mind as I write this post?  You bet I do.  That example would be The Great Gatsby, based on F. Scott Fitzgerald's 1925 novel of the same name.  I will admit to having read Gatsby multiple times.  High school, college, book club, just because.  Why?  It's considered to be Fitzgerald's magnum opus and an American classic, sure.  But it's also, in this reader's humble opinion, a beautifully crafted novel.  In a mere 180 pages, Fitzgerald conveys good vs. evil, beauty, love, tragedy, greed, corruption, deceit, despair, and regret.  His characters are painstakingly crafted, and his prose is both spare and evocative.

What I'm saying is: A picture may be worth a thousand words, but sometimes, a word is all that's needed to paint a picture. 

In the case of the film, I will agree that it is visually stunning.  The costumes and set design are positively jaw-dropping.  But the pacing is...off.  The thing about a book is you get to choose, to a certain degree, how fast the action moves.  You can skip ahead.  You can skim.  You can linger and savor.  You can reread your favorite parts.  With movies, the screenplay and the director determine how fast the story moves, and in this case, for me, it just didn't do the story justice.

What do you think?  Have you seen it and read it, and prefer one over the other?  Or do you have an example of a successful film adaptation?  Let me know in the comments!

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