The movie industry has made literary adaptations of famous books for a very long time. Suddenly, our favorite characters adopt a corporeal form that may or may not be similar to the ones we imagined.
Writing a novel differs from to the process of writing a script, the latter has to be a visual interpretation of the words of the original author, whereas the novel is an exercise of description. A chapter of a whole book can be condensed into a single sequence in a movie.
Comparisons are inevitable; however, film adaptations tend to be shorter and faster, since in the end they’re trying to reduce a long story into a 2 hour movie. On the other hand, books are highly rich in details, character development, and plot. The act of reading extends the experience for as long as the reader wants and it gives enough time for the reader to fully comprehend all the series of events that lead to the ending.
There are occasions where the scripts make changes to the original ideas of the book, transforming all the plot. For example, Kubrick made important adaptations to Stephen King’s The Shinning, which made the original author very angry. Despite the conflicts between King and Kubrick, the film adaptation became a cult motion picture, whereas the miniseries that King adapted, and is closer to the novel, are less known.
The involvement of the novelist in an adaptation not always ends up a failure. Mario Puzo participated in the script of The Godfather, and then he took advantage of the movie’s popularity to continue his story in a cinematographic format with the sequel: Godfather II. Other successful book adaptations were Lord of The Rings, Gone With The Wind, and Silence Of The Lambs.
Game of Thrones is, perhaps, one of the most popular adaptations of a book into a TV series. The TV format allowed the plot to be rich in details and gave the characters the chance to develop their narratives. Another subject to take into consideration is the censorship of the content. Some TV networks may not address certain issues like sex or excessive use of violence, while others like HBO, have no problem showing R-rated scenes that are based on A Song Of Ice And Fire.
The complexity of the time jumps in the plot and the inclusion of new characters make of TV adaptations a more viable option. Series that were freely adapted to the small screen format are Vampire Diaries, Sex And The City, and True Blood.
We previously addressed the difficulties of adapting a long novel into a 2 hour film. The details are lost and the narratives have to be shorten. TV series not always capture all the essence of the books; however, they portray the most important content. Adaptations like Mildred Pierce and The Pillars Of The Earth are great examples.
Famous series like Orange Is The New Black (OITNB) and Dexter were already books, but their popularity grew when they were adapted to TV or streaming formats. They both took the core plot and transformed the narrative by giving a voice to secondary characters that were silent in the books.
Sometimes, an author needs to be discovered by new generations, and the TV format can become the platform to make them even more famous. Yes, the situations of the characters can be adapted to the contemporary challenges, but they maintain their essence. Stephen King’s Under The Dome and Sherlock by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle have been drawn to the world of fandom thanks to the TV shows.
At the end of the day, avid readers and TV viewers can enjoy of both genres and expand their knowledge of the narratives they consume. We invite you to share what were the differences you found between both versions? What did you enjoy more, the books or the shows?