Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Big Picture; Movie Adaption vs. The Books

Yesterday night, I watched a movie; Eragon. I spent the entire movie glaring at the screen. Why? They made such ATROCIOUS changes to the plot, the characters looked all wrong, the-... Well, you get my point.

I'm going to use Eragon as an example, but this will be just an example for all movies and books. Of course, each movie/book pair has differences, but I hope this gives you the general idea.

Anyway, I'll try to stay even-handed in this post, but please note that I am extremely opposed to the view that the movies could even be better than the books.

Round One;

~Eragon Movie VS Eragon Book~

The Pros and the Cons of Books;


-Sometimes, the writing is worth more than a thousand pictures. Or movies. Christopher Paolini's vivid writing and description make the book come alive. And that, in my opinion, is better than a movie.

-In books, one literally knows the character's thoughts, completely. This is another pro that I think trumps the movie again. Although the person watching 'Eragon' can hear Eragon's thoughts when he talks to Saphira, you really don't get inside his head.

-The story is much longer in the book; 500 pages of action. And they just can't get 500 pages to fit into an hour and a half of film.

-Much better character development. In the movie, I didn't care a whole lot about Eragon. I actually cared a lot more about his dragon, Saphira. But some of the other minor good guy (or gal) characters came across terribly. Murtagh, Brom, Arya, etc; I didn't care one bit if they fell of a cliff and drowned. And in the book, Brom isn't half as rude as he comes across in the movie. In fact, Eragon and Brom were very good friends in the book (even more, as I later find out in Brisingr, the third book of the series).

-Books are very rereadable (I've reread Eragon 17 times!).


-In a book, you can't see the story. In your mind's eye, of course, but physically, no.

-For many people, books simply can't hold their attention long enough.

-There are many small details that plenty of people call 'fluff'; stuffing to make the book longer.

Pros and Cons of Movies;


-You can actually see movies. It is made from real, actual people, and so some people may argue that the characters are much easier to relate to.

-They are much easier to watch than it is to read. Even I sometimes put down a book to watch a movie.

-They are short. This may be a pro, or it may be a con, depending on your point of view. If it's short, it'll be much easier to convince your parents to let you watch it quick, right? But if it's short, it might leave out some of the principal plot details. Your call.

-With today's precise technology, the movie itself is extremely vivid and realistic.

-Much of the action is simply amazing. I found myself holding my breath once during the movie.


Much of the things that were pros for the book are cons for the movie;

-Lack of character development

-Except for brief instances, you cannot hear Eragon's thoughts.

-I, for one, am not a fan of watching movies over and over. Once I've seen a movie, I might not see it again for a year or more.

And some original thoughts;

-The characters are not how I pictured them. Eragon and Arya were the only ones that looked as I thought they might, but even they had flaws. For two examples, Arya doesn't even have pointed ears (she's an elf), and Eragon, in the movie, claims he's seventeen. In the book, he turns sixteen halfway through. Brom, the Urgals, the dwarves, and Tronjheim, the mountain city, were a letdown. The Urgals were supposed be seven feet tall, and to have long, long horns, but they looked like dressed up men.

-Some of the parts of the movie were just embarrassing and lame. Not only was one quote not even in the book ("One part brave, three parts fool"), it was said three or four times. It became rather boring.

[Note; this next part will be hard to understand unless you have read the book]

-The inconsistancy with the book was outrageous and disappointing. The movie makers even made three, no four huge plot points go completely wrong; (spoilers) The killing of the Raz'ac, which doesn't happen in the book; Ajihad, the leader of the Varden, is supposed to be killed after the Battle of Farthen Dur; Roran joining the army. This did not happen in the book, and later, Roran's presence in Carvahall is essential for the plot; and finally, the most atrocious; the leaving of Arya to Ellesmera (Eragon is supposed to go with her and meet Oromis, an old Dragon Rider in hiding). You have no idea what a huge plot strand this is unless you have read the book. Eragon shouldn't be called Eragon unless this was corrected. Eragon becomes a real Rider because of Oromis.


And now my rant is over. As you can see, I clearly think that the movie is terrible, especially compared to the book. Terrible. :)

But it's your call, ultimately. What's your opinion on it? Not only this movie, but book adaptions in general (Lord of the Rings, etc.)?

I'd love to hear your opinion.


Galadriel said...

Although I didn't really like Eragon to begin with, I agree that they butchered it. Another example is Prince Caspian--they added romance, too much action, took out the main theme...I could go on.

Jake said...


Yes, I agree. Several of the scenes made me want to choke, and Prince Caspian came across as a rather rude person. I hope they do a better job on Voyage of the Dawn Treader...

Nathan R. Petrie said...

I enjoyed the books and I also enjoyed the movie.

To be a reader and to go and watch the movie version of the book you have to be willing to let your loving characters slide a bit. Obviously one reader's interpretation is going to be different than yours. They can't please everyone.

As for book -vs- movie.

It is a fact that writing is meant to describe the visual. And so it must therefore me concluded that in the visual aspect of things the movie will trump if done correctly. The only thing that the writing does is make it sound cooler and provide the other senses, which good film makers can provide as well.

Movies are rewatchable ;) The re-reading/watching is all opinion haha

Movies have lack of character development? I beg to differ. Characters are developed the same was in either story. Again, it depends on who is making the movie.

Take for example, The Lord of the Rings. Did you think those were awful compared to the book? Some movies are very well done. I think the movies for LOTR are better than the books...

In the movie, I don't remember Roran joining the army. If I am correct he was running from the army, which is precisely what he did in the book.

Overall I think you have to look at a book and movie as seperate stories. And if you can do that, you'll enjoy both better.

I thoroughly enjoy movie adaptions of books. Just because it's fun to see the film maker's interpretation.

And as for Prince Caspian the only thing that bugged me was the romance, just because the relationship didn't make sense. I think that the Narnia movies, and LOTR, are the best movie adaptions ever made. And I LOVED the extra fight scenes in Caspian LOL

Jake said...

@Nathan R. Petrie

Okay, I'll address this one paragraph at a time.

Yes, I should have written 'opinion' on some of those statements. :)

And I think I'll politely disagree with the lack of character development statement. Eragon, Saphira, and perhaps Arya were developed well, but I didn't like the way they portrayed Brom or Murtagh. I forgot to mention in the post, but Murtagh never wanted to go to the Varden in the first place, and in the movie he was leading Eragon and Saphira to the Varden.

Yes, LOTR was very well done. There were very few instances where the movie wandered from the original plot, and those were very minor. I loved the movies ALMOST as much as the book. Almost. :)

Another polite disagreement; In Eragon [movie], Roran said that he would join up with the army before they came looking for him. I just watched it again yesterday, you see. :)

Prince Caspian was pretty good, despite the extra battle where Caspian tried to assasinate the king.

But I really hope they don't make a sequel to Eragon. If I see it, I just won't view it as 'Eragon'. It's too different.

I hope that clears it. :)

Anastasia Cross said...

I totally hated the movie but I have read all of the Eragon books. The movie was embarrassing compared to the book. I was ashamed for the directors.

I loved the books when I read them, though! The first was awesome, the second was kinda eh, the third was AWESOME, and the fourth made me cry (from both genuine sadness and a bit of disappointment).

:) A.C.