Do movies turn a book into paper-thin plots?


Photo by Aja Schiller

Stephanie Drake’s fourth period Freshman class reading “Night” by Elie Wiesel during SSR reading time.

Photo by Aja Schiller
In the above photo, a small glimpse of Julia Haugan’s extensive movie collection is shown.

Though many people chose to enjoy the pleasures of sitting on the couch and watching a movie, others begin their nights with a novel in between their hands. Which should come first? Throughout my childhood, my older sister always told me that reading the book is better than watching the movie and that I should wait to see the movie. Since she was older, I took her word, and only learned what she meant when the Harry Potter series came into my own life. Books open pathways that movies cannot.

Technically, I’m not part of the “Harry Potter Generation”, but I still love the series as if I grew up waiting in the queues for the next book to come out at midnight. My sister also went through her Harry Potter phase while I was about eight, so while I was raised on the books, I also had the movies playing frequently at my house.

For me, the Harry Potter series showed me how much value is in reading the book before watching the movie.

Another series that I would recommend reading the books before watching the movies is Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. The book has an eerie theme that keeps the reader on the edge of their seat the whole time, while the movies reminded the viewer of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Tim Burton has published numerous other well-known films that all center around dark themes, but Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is one of the exceptions.

There are benefits to watching the movie first though. It’s typically more entertaining than reading and someone can also multitask while watching a movie. Movies can also bring out stronger emotions than books because the viewer is experiencing everything with special effects, compared to on paper or in their minds. Although one may argue that books are just as real as the movies if the reader’s mind is creative and imaginative enough.

Books can also hold sentimental value. To some people, it’s satisfying to close the back cover of the book and be able to say they finished it. Movies don’t give off the same satisfaction after finishing.

It’s valid to have been raised off the values in movies and therefore prefer movies over books. It’s all about personal preference and how people choose to enjoy stories in different forms of entertainment. I was raised off the values of books, however, and believe that reading the book before watching the movie is essential for a complete experience with a story.