Books or Films: Which are Better?

Ever wondered what Peeves the poltergeist would have looked like and missed all his crazy antics in the Harry Potter series? For those who have never read the Harry Potter books, you might wonder who or what Peeves is.

For the avid fan who loves to read and imagine your protagonist in a particular way, watching the film may sometimes ruin your expectations. That’s somehow a downside of choosing to watch the film adaptation of your favourite series. The argument that the book is always better than the film remains prevalent.

However, some of the biggest and highest grossing series such as Harry Potter, the Twilight saga, The Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, and numerous others, have all been adapted into films, so that people have another great choice, and wouldn’t miss out on some of the greatest works of literature.

So, to read, or to watch?


My choice

Characters would be what you first imagine when you start reading a book. However, as I said, your depiction of a character could be majorly contrasting to the actor/actress cast in the film. Look at an example. Percy Jackson – a twelve-year-old boy, who comes to learn that he’s the son of Greek God Poseidon, struggling with ADHD and dyslexia, and has a hard time fitting in at school – turns out to be Logan Lerman, subjectively speaking a good-looking actor who was eighteen years old during the first film. That changes the timeline of the entire series as well as many other crucial events.

Many details of certain characters may not occur in the films. One of my favourite characters in the Harry Potter books is Ginny Weasley. She’s an independent girl, energetic and lively, who grows up with six brothers. Rowling writes that Ginny is tough, very rarely weepy, and also “too popular for her own good.” These traits are hardly present in the films due to crucial scenes being cut off, giving her character a rather flat appeal (even though Bonnie Wright’s performance does not disappoint).


Source: Al Arabiya English


This takes us to our next point: The actual storyline and events that didn’t make it into the film. This is one of the biggest disappointments to the book lovers, who anticipate watching certain scenes, but due to time constraints, these scenes did not make the cut. I’m sure we would have loved to see (1) Gryffindor win the Quidditch cup in the third Harry Potter film; (2) the backstory of Albus Dumbledore’s dark past as told by his brother Aberforth; and finally, (3) the story of Winky the house-elf who gets abused by her master and plays a vital role in the fourth book.

Twilight too. In the final book of the Twilight saga – Breaking Dawn – we see the world through the eyes of Jacob Black. And the pain, torture, and loss which he feels are vivid. However, in the film, we only see the story through Bella’s eyes grievously disappointing the diehard fans of Jacob Black, played by Taylor Lautner. (Though, hats off to the directors of Breaking Dawn Part II for giving the audience heart attacks with the plot twist, which actually turns out to be only a foresight of the ultimate war, wherein most of our beloved characters are brutally killed).

The Great Gatsby written by the F. Scott Fitzgerald is a literary masterpiece that captures the essence of the American Dream during the twenties. The film adaptation stars Leonardo DiCaprio, playing the title role: Jay Gatsby. Despite their best efforts at giving us a portrayal of the East Coast in the nineteen twenties – where there is a decay in moral values, where the greedy pursuit of pleasure and wealth is all that matters – there are many symbolic references from the book that may not be understandable for those who hadn’t read it. For example, some who have watched it may not get the significance of the green light at the end of the dock, or the watchful eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg. These references make the book all the more thrilling and mysterious and allowing the reader her creative imagination.


Source: Star News Online


Personal joy

Nevertheless, films such as Chronicles of Narnia, Lord of the Rings, Hunger Games, Divergent, and many of the works by author Nicholas Sparks, such as The Notebook or A Walk to Remember, which have us all sobbing and heartbroken, not to mention the tear jerking soundtrack of Me Before You, and many more, truly do justice to the books, despite all the critics.

After all, making a film involves a transition of words into visual representation, which would entail tremendous hard work, time, and passion, especially when dealing with books that have detailed dialogue as well as in-depth descriptions of characters and places. Often, the film, like the book, helps the reader transport herself into a whole new world.

I guess it’s fair to say that films and books both capture the hearts of those who invest in them in different ways, be it visually, or through one’s imagination. So, whether you chose to enjoy these works of art visually, or by snuggling up in bed with a good book, they will always hold a special place in your heart!


Written by Aneeqah Macan Markar

Featured image from and

"All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others." (George Orwell, in Animal Farm, 1945)

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