Discussion: Book to Movie Discrepancies

November 18, 2013 Discussion 28

Do you love watching movies based on books? Or do you dread how much the big screen might butcher that novel you hold so dear?

The Hunger GamesThis past weekend I went to a friend’s house and a group of us girls re-watched The Hunger Games movie. Now half of us had read the book, the other half had not, and then there was also a few that had not watched the movie or read the book at all.

While watching the movie we had quite a bit of chatter on the side. Some of us who had seen the movie couldn’t help but start muttering “DISCREPANCY” every time we saw something that wasn’t true to the book. Heck we said if we turned it into a drinking game we’d be totally inebriated one thirds in.  Then there was all sorts of chat about, why this was happening, and what’s up with the hand salute, why this, why that, yadda yadda. You get what I mean.

Do any of you do that sort of thing when you’re watching the movie with a group of friends? (not chattering non stop in the actual movie theater of course) Now, don’t get me wrong I enjoyed The Hunger Games movie…well except for the shakey camera style portions those literally almost make me puke every time.  But I thought they did a pretty good adaptation.

So what I’m really getting at is – I really can’t say I view the movie adaptations with the same mindset each time. I know that its a movie adaptation, ADAPTATION being the keyword, and that there is going to be some differences from the book. Some of these things can be great, some of them can suck, and then some I just wonder where they hell they got that from, or why the heck did they decide to change something that so easily could have been left the same. If it’s a book I particularly love I feel like I hold it more sacred and take more offense when the plot line and details deviate. I’m really trying not to though because a book that I LOVE will be made into a movie soon and the author has told me that hands down it’s going to be different. When I asked why, he said readers have already experienced the book so he wants them to have an entirely new experience when they watch the movie. So in a way I’m REALLY excited about that. I hope I can remember his words when I finally get to watch the film.

The Hunger Games MovieBut I rant on and really need to get to the point. Do you think its better to try to wash your mind clean of the book before watching the movie and just try to enjoy it for what it is? – Or are y0u the type who likes to pick out the book to movie discrepancies? For instance I STILL haven’t watched World War Z because the book was one of my favorite zombie books and when I saw the trailers I was so disappointing in how it didn’t seem to even have any essence of the book except the same title.

With the The Hunger Games, I enjoyed it but I still pick at it. I adored most of the Harry Potter movies and really haven’t picked at them much in my head…ok well maybe a bit. Sometimes I think I’d almost rather not read the book until after I see the movie. I used to always want to read the book first. But lately I’m leaning in the other direction.

Also, are you the kind to stop the movie and explain every bit of the missing parts to your friend who hasn’t read the book? Heck I’ll explain if they want to know…if someone asks me I can’t help but want to explain hehe.

What are some of your favorite book to movie adaptations? Or what are some movies that have made you want to go back and read the book if you hadn’t already?

One book I plan to read this coming year because of the movie!: The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle. It is quite literally my favorite cartoon of all time!

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Tabitha (Pabkins)

When I'm in the zone I can flip book pages faster than the eye can see - screaming "More Input!" I'm a book, yarn, & art supply hoarding goblin who loves to draw, make toys and craft all sorts of creepy cute things. My current habit is to listen to audio books while I'm arting it up!
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28 Responses to “Discussion: Book to Movie Discrepancies”

  1. Michaela @ Will Read for Coffee

    I’m with you in that if I REALLY like a book I am a lot more critical of the movie. Take Harry Potter, I was ready to hate the movies because I was just so sure they would suck compared to the books but I really enjoyed the movies and enjoyed explaining what my husband missed by not reading the books. I do believe you have to go into expecting some things to be left out, there have been books that I loved and then hated the movie and then movies that I thought were better than the books. It just depends on where they take the story. Now when it comes series the bar is set a little higher because there is less wiggle room in the story when there are so many other movies involved. In the end I guess it all comes down to the writing whether it’s the book or the movie. 🙂
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    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      I definitely agree you have way less wiggle room with a series. Its so exciting to see so many books being made into movies lately from the YA genre. Though some of them I’m not interested in at all. I didn’t read Beautiful Creatures or The Mortal Instruments and don’t really plan to haha. So I guess I’ll have to settle for the movies once they come to streaming.

      I loved the interpretation of Harry Potter. I wish they could have added a few more things and I wasn’t pleased with the second to last movie because I personally think the last book should have only been half as long so the second to last movie to me was rather pointless because I thought that part of the book was pointless too haha.

  2. ashley

    I’ll agree I go into the movie being critical of it if I’ve read the book. Then again there are some movies I enjoyed more than the book. Hunger games being one of them. I couldn’t get into the book, but I loved seeing it as a movie. Beautiful creatures was another because the book seemed to drag on, but I enjoyed the movie more even though there were some parts they changed I didn’t like. The harry potter movies and books I loved pretty much no matter what. I’m excited to see the book thief. I haven’t read the book yet so I think I might read it after.
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    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      I was thinking about reading The Book Thief when I saw the awesome trailer – but then I realized while I think I’ll love the movie – that just isn’t the kind of book I’m dying to read – so on this one I”ll stick with the movie.

  3. Megan @ Library Life Through Books

    With hungers games I think if I had just watch the movie with out reading the book first I might of like it more I thought there was a lot of differences that wasn’t in the books, like at all, however I sort of get why they were trying to NOT have it be strictly P.O.V of Katniss but still. And I still have issues about the 3 book being labeled as YA, if I were a parent I wouldn’t let my 12-16 year old read that one why to much death, however I’m not going to get into that. I actually saw the movie for the first harry potter and that how I got into the books, in fact I recently started rereading the series only the first one so far and watched the movie there was I a lot I forgot about the book but I think they did a good job with harry potter movies except for I think it was the fifth where they left a slew out. I thought they did the golden compass pretty good to it a shame they didn’t do the other books. The most recent book to movie that I’ve read/seen is city of bones, I was very disappointed, I was sitting there at the end of the movie thinking I need to reread this cause other than the name and the title hardly anything if from the book, yes it was a good movie but I don’t think it followed the book at all. I have not seen or read Beautiful Creatures or The Host and don’t plan on seeing it till I read them however I really don’t know if I want to do it that way or see them first given how the movies have been going lately and risk not liking the movie. As I said I think Harry Potter has been the best book to movie and that’s because everyone one was going and asking J.K HER permission and telling her that its ok to put your foot down, so I’ve heard anyway.

    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      I’ve heard bad things about The Mortal Instruments and Beautiful Creatures movies. Personally I’m in no rush to read those books or watch the movies. I’ll probably watch the movies once they come to netflix streaming and who knows if I’ll ever get to the books. I read a lot of YA as well as adult so there are some books that just fall by the wayside unless I’m super excited to read them.

      I do think more input from the authors themselves helps make the movies better.

  4. Cait D

    I usually watch those kind of movies with my book-geek sister, so I don’t have to explain. But it’s frustrating when the movies are REALLY different. I LOVED THG movie adaption, but I was disappointed that they didn’t do much with the dialogue or Rue’s backstory. I also felt a lot of the depth of the movie got lost. We needed Katniss’ narration. But I’m super excited for Catching Fire.
    I also loved World War Z…!! But I didn’t even know it was a book! Now I have to go find it… 🙂

    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      Haha you didn’t know WWZ was a book!!?? Omg I haven’t seen the movie but my friends who have, and that have read the book say it is a completely different story. They only used a few elements of the book. You must read it – it is my favorite zombie book!

  5. Charleen

    I try really, really hard to watch the movie as its own entity, and judge it on its own and not on how faithful of an adaptation it is.

    What I can’t seem to do, however, is stop wondering WHY certain things were changed. A lot of time the changes make perfect sense to me. Oh, they combined a couple of minor characters, they streamlined the story by skipping over this, they inserted a completely different conflict here because it works better for the screen… and it’s only when I can’t figure out why they changed something that I start to get irritated. And yes, of course, how much I like the books definitely has a part to play as well…

    But I really do try to judge the movie as a movie, and not necessarily as an adaptation.
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    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      It boggles my mind sometimes why they decide to change certain things. Some I totally get make sense and help compact the book down to movie form since they have so much less time to tell the story. Others, not so much.

      I am trying more and more lately to enjoy it just on its own. For instance I really enjoyed Warm Bodies. The book had a more serious edge to it where the movie had a lot of comedy that I loved instead. I still haven’t watched World War Z – but I know I should just view that as a completely different story but with the same title.

  6. Becky LeJeune

    I tend to be a little lenient with adaptations. But only to a point. First, my Swiss cheese brain has a hard time holding on to lots of little details these days so if I don’t even remember it from the book, I’ll never know it’s missing. No biggie.

    Second, I am usually able to look at an adaptation and understand why something was changed or left out due to time restraints and such. Not a movie, but the Game of Thrones series is the perfect example. Certain characters have been cut with other characters taking on any necessary points that might connect to those cut characters in the books. It all makes sense for what is really a pretty close to the original adaptation that has obvious time restraints.

    Some things I simply do not understand, using the name of a well known work to pass off such a loose adaptation that the work is barely recognizable. I AM LEGEND is one. Neither the Will Smith version or THE OMEGA MAN follows the story they’re based on. In fact, I AM LEGEND is basically a remake of THE OMEGA MAN with Will Smith. Even the point of the title is completely lost in that version.

    On the other hand, I am one of those folks who really enjoyed the adaptation of WORLD WAR Z. The book is built like a series of stories with a prologue explaining that the author wanted to tell the human stories that weren’t included in his official report. The movie adaptation is a logical spin on that that I think works really well.
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    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      I agree with you on the I AM LEGEND remake – I was a bit disappointed on that one. I really enjoyed the book – especially how it ended which is the whole point that the title makes that you don’t get til the end you know?

      As for WORLD WAR Z – I love love love that book but I haven’t watched the movie yet – so I guess I’ll have to let you know hehe.

  7. JoshA

    I agree with Charleen. I do my best to judge the movie based on its own merits. Time constraints for one often make it extremely to directly translate the page to the screen.

  8. Ruby @Ruby's Books

    Sometimes the discrepancies bother me, especially if they’re about really important scenes or plot points, like they did with True Blood. Yeah, I won’t even talk about that show, ’cause it’s seriously annoying. Or if there are big characters that end up being cut out of the story. But little things I accept. Of course, it will annoy me seriously if the book character has blue eyes and in the movie the same character has green or brown eyes.

    I saw someone above me mention Beautiful Creatures. I’ve read the book (amazing book. I still have to read the other books, but the first one is just plain amazing) and I’ve seen the movie. Let’s just say it’s not the worst adaptation out there, but not the best. There were things that didn’t really match the book. Also, as much as I love and idolize both Emma Thompson and Jeremy Irons, I think the movie didn’t really show what they can do, if it makes any sense. They were brilliant, but I think the movie as a whole sort of dulled those moments. It wasn’t a bad movie, but, like I said, not a good one either.

    I understand the need to change certain aspects of the story because of the short amount of time you have on screen. So I try to think about that when I judge a movie based on a book.

    I don’t explain the discrepancies to my friends who haven’t read the book, unless they ask. Not because I don’t want to, but because I think that each person has different views of a book or scene, so maybe I’d show it in a way that the other person doesn’t really understand why it was so fantastic or bad.

    I am however very excited to see Divergent. I just read that book and I’ve watched the trailer so many times it’s not even funny anymore. I’m curious how it turned out.
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    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      I haven’t read or watched Beautiful Creatures. The trailers at the time when they came out just didn’t look appealing to me at all…and I’ve never felt a big drive to read the book. Maybe I will someday.

      I read the Sookie books I think I have the last few to read. I tried watching a few of the first episodes of True Blood and just couldn’t. Bill was ugly as sin and Sookie well….lets say I just didn’t really like the actress so I couldn’t go any further.

      I haven’t read Divergent yet but I plan to soon – probably before the movie comes out.

      I agree of course we have to expect discrepancies and sometimes they really aren’t that bad, other times its like watching an entirely different story.

  9. Leeanna @ Leeanna.me

    I’m at the point where I look at them as two different things. Like Harry Potter-book version, and Harry Potter-movie version. Or Hunger Games-book, Hunger Games-movie. It’s inevitable that there will be changes, and then more changes, because no way can a movie accurately depict everything that happens in a book.

    It used to make me kind of angry, because how DARE they touch something I loved so much and mess it up? But after I adopted that mindset, I didn’t care as much. If something’s really borked, then yeah I won’t care for the movie, but otherwise, I enjoy them as two separate things.

    In a couple of rare cases, I’ve even liked the media adaptations better. Best one I can think of is Rizzoli and Isles. The books are okay, but mysteries aren’t really my thing, so I read ’em once and moved on. Now the TV show, I love it. It’s not even close to the books, but it’s the perfect drama to watch and lose myself in.
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  10. [email protected]

    I saw The Hunger Games movie before I read the book and it made me curious about the books 🙂 Afterwards, I must be honest that I liked the movie much more.. since it has more action. I sometimes think it’s better to watch a movie without the book, just because you watch at it with different eyes. I enjoyed Beautiful creatures as a movie, but perhaps I wouldn’t if I’ve read the story first. I did read The mortal instruments before I saw the movie (liked the movie better). What I actually want to say is, I like to see things separately from each other. Most of the HP movies are great, but not when you compare them to the books: it will always be that way. They just can’t put every detail into the movie, but that doesn’t make them bad 🙂
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    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      Yes I know exactly what you mean! I have been thinking that more and more lately. The Beautiful Creatures and Immortal Instruments books I don’t even plan on reading so I can just watch the movies instead.

      It is a good idea to try to keep them separate. So I agree even if it doesn’t follow the book the movie could still end up being good as its own thing.

  11. Bree

    I took my boyfriend to see The Hunger Games when it came out, and while I loved the movie (I knew that there would be a lot of discrepancies, and didn’t let it bug me), he didn’t like it the first time because he had no idea about the little details that they left out. After we got home and I explained it all to him, we watched it again and he liked it.

    My kids, on the other hand, LOVED the movie and now my son is reading the book (he’s 11). He is constantly telling me “I know what happens because I watched the movie” and I try to explain that it’s different in the book, haha.

    In general, though, I know that the movies are going to change things to “Hollywoodify” the books, and I get that so I don’t complain much. For instance, I loved My Sister’s Keeper even though they TOTALLY changed the ending, and it’s one of my favorite books. What I hate is when they take a good book and ruin it with poor acting, bad lighting, etc. There are only a few movies-from-books that I haven’t enjoyed.

    Great discussion topic!
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    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      Haha – I’ve heard something similar before from a friend. “I don’t need to read the book when I can watch the movie.”

      Its great your son is reading the book!

      I hate poor acting, bad lighting, just blah. I’m trying to think of an example and can’t find one.

  12. Bookworm1858

    I have a different opinion about this for almost every book/movie combo. I actually really loved THG film, having had 2 years between reading the book and seeing it so though I recognized a few changes, they didn’t really bother me. But the burning of the Burrow in HP6 film annoyed me to no end because it wasn’t in the book! I have eclectic reasons for every single book/movie combo I’m familiar with.
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    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      I definitely think the longer you wait between reading and watching definitely helps you to enjoy it more. I agree – I have a different reaction each time as well. I guess it just depends on how well done the movie is!