See the Movie or Read the Book

See the Movie or Read the Book

In life, we're sometimes faced with tough choices. One choice that keeps coming up again and again is a big one:

Should I see the movie, or read the book?

Movies are getting made based on books more and more these days. Just about all of the old classics you can think of (Anna Karenina, Grapes of Wrath, Great Gatsby, Huck Finn) have movie versions; some of them are even pretty darn good. Of course, almost no movies have the depth and artistry of their books. Books have more time and they're able to say more things, with narration, dialogue, reflection, and analysis that just doesn't play well in a movie.

It's interesting to think about what movies have as an art form, however, that books lack. Movies can have the telling facial expression; what might take paragraphs or pages in a book can be summed up in one fiery glance between characters. In just one well-placed camera view, we can know all about the time period, the economic station, even the mood of the movie, while we have to spend the first few pages or chapters of a book figuring these things out. Here are a few book-movie smackdowns and arguments for why the book or the movie is better.

The Grapes of Wrath Great book, great movie. The book is filled with powerful passages about the plight of migrant workers in America during the depression. It's filled with shocking views of poverty and injustice. The movie, too, manages to capture these striking images in haunting ways. But the book wins because of censorship: in 1939, when the movie was made, the book's shocking finale was considered too obscene to be put on screen. To get the real story, read the book!

The Godfather Great movie, forgettable book. Francis Ford Coppola made filmmaking history with his classic saga of an Italian-American crime family struggling to escape its destiny. It's brutal and violent, but also surprisingly tender. Based on the book by Mario Puzo, the book is considered to pale in comparison to this cinematic masterwork. Movie wins!

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest Great book, great movie. This classic novel of Ken Kesey will make you rethink the definition of sanity and insanity. Who belongs in a mental institution? And how can an imprisoned mind break free? The great thing about this book is that its movie is even better. Filmmakers made the movie great by reinventing it for its different art form. Both the book and the movie win: see/read both!

Harry Potter It's been interesting to see the Harry Potter movies unfolding just a few years behind the unfolding of the Harry Potter books. And the fact that different directors have taken on this epic tale have made parts of it better than others. While the books are fun, I think director Alfonso Cuaron did a better job than J.K. Rowling for the third installment. So read the books, but don't miss movie number three.So how do you make the tough choice? Tell Teen Ink about it and send us a book or movie review sometime.