Pupil Contributions, Clifton College

Pupil Contributions, Clifton College

Lauren O'Hagan: 19/12/16

Can you really beat a good book?


Having completed the “Northern Lights” the first of the “His Dark Materials” serie by bestselling author Phillip Pullman, the contrast of cinema and literature was brought to light. Whilst the original book was full of enriched details, in-depth characterisation and imaginative storyline, the film adaptation seemed to be a weakened, washed out version of the original storyline. However, this isn’t to suggest that it was a poor film, but when films are compared to a book, 99% of the time the film doesn’t stand a chance.

Why can’t you beat a good book?

This is simply as a result of the fact that when in a novel, the author has time to explore this world that have created, The author has time to add in extra characters- each with their own storyline, their own journey, their own path. The author has the time to paint this vivid picture in our imagination. No wonder that immensely popular books such as Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings are over 500 pages long, and have kept audiences captivated for decades.

Why can you beat a good film?

Films, however, are an editing process; it would be impossible to keep in every single detail of a book within the one and a half to two hour time frame that they are expected to stick to, so no wonder that in such films as Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter, characters go unmentioned and conflicts forgotten about.

If you can’t beat a good book, is a film really worth it?

Yes, whilst imagination of characters’ appearance, personality and presence can be limited when in films, there is still so much left to be appreciated. Film soundtracks can often make or break a film e.g. Perks of Being a Wall flower, The Hunger Games and Pride & Prejudice. The sound track can add as much drama to a film as the conflict itself. Moreover art and design within film is often incredible as they bring much loved characters such as Bilbo Baggins (from The Hobbit), Alice (from Alice in Wonderland) and Lennie (from of Mice and Men) to life.

Cinematography will always be weaker in comparison to literature.

But this doesn’t mean that cinematography is weak.