When you see the word ‘Divergent’ do you think of the stunning literature trilogy by Veronica Roth, or, conversely, the hugely successful movie series? When you see the title ‘The Hunger Games’, do you think of Katniss Everdeen or J-Law? How exactly do movies change our perception of their literature inspiration?
Growing up, the child version of me was somewhat abnormal. I never had the coolest new weird baby doll that drank water and then peed it out or the best Pokémon cards; I was that 0.02% of kids who had their face nestled into a good book. Still, to this day, I’ve been fascinated by how a simple binding of dead trees could spark my growing mind and get me feeling things one cannot put into words. What has annoyed me in recent years is people valuing movies over the books they originated from. People saying they “love the characters” or “love the storyline” who haven’t actually read the book, don’t know that their ‘favourite’ character is nothing like they were described in the book or that their ‘favourite’ scene was written in the late creation stages by a whole team of people in the film industry. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely adore movies, but the end of a movie doesn’t give me that same satisfaction as finishing an intensely captivating book. So, why do I feel so strongly about books?
Books stimulate our imaginations. As the great Muhammad Ali once said ‘’the man who has no imagination has no wings.’’ To me this quote suggests freedom of creativity, an idea that one can only indulge in thinking outside the box if they simply don’t think of a limitation like a box at all. When reading a book the imagination runs away with the story and you are instantly taken by the story that you interpret yourself. The amazing thing about the written word is it is not just any old abstract squiggles; every word has a meaning and those meanings have the sheer power to create images. What’s brilliant about those images? They are one hundred per cent unique. For example if I were to say the word “paradise”, what comes into your head? Is it a beautiful tropical island, surround by crystal clear blue water with the sun heavily beating down? Or is it the complete opposite and you’re surrounded by untouched snow, a hot chocolate in hand, to the background of the French Alps? According to the English dictionary, imagination is ‘the action of forming new ideas, images or concepts of external objects not present to the senses’. This very much applies to a book! After all, a book is just a collection of pages with some writing on, yet it enables one to be transported to countless eras, locations and scenarios.
I’ve just finished a stunning book called Two Brothers by Ben Elton. The moment I opened it I was instantly sent to 1920s Berlin where I followed the lives of two young brothers growing up in a harrowing environment. This is where movie adaptations fall short. You are force-fed everything (that you could’ve interpreted yourself) on a silver platter. Yes, lots of hard work and credible production contributes to bringing these movies to life, but my point is that you aren’t physically allowed to imagine the appearance of characters or their surroundings: all you are seeing is an insight into someone else’s imagination. I think you’d agree that the most captivating and memorable moments in a movie are those left to the viewer’s interpretation, right? That’s why stimulating the imagination is such a wonderful thing that books so naturally do.
Onto my next point: books don’t need the ‘help’, for want of a better word, of special effects and perplexing equipment. By their very nature, movies require an electronic device with a screen just to view them. What does a book need? Itself in all its solitude and you there to read it. Some people say technology can make things easier, but isn’t life already complex enough? We have countless things to do and remember as it is! Movie formats ARE changing and the forward march of technology makes us crave higher and higher quality. We had VHS, we had DVD and now we are in the Blu-Ray era. When will we call it a day? However, a book will ALWAYS be a book. Sure, we have Kindles and other platforms to read from, but my point is that the written word is not simply going to go out of date and we aren’t just going to forget how to read. Kids growing up in 2015 are born into technology, and the encouragement to read is becoming weaker and weaker the stronger the film industry becomes. Getting lost in a good book is one of the simplest things you can do, and it’s available to everyone. Like the wonderful Leonardo Da Vinci once said “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”
So, to conclude, what am I really trying to say? Movies are fantastic and of course we should recognise the hard work and passion that goes into producing them, but they don’t have that same sense of inclusion that a book provides. Books enable you to feel connected and attached to every single character and their lives, making you crave knowledge of the rest of their story. With a movie, you are merely an observer; you don’t feel what the character feels, you aren’t reading every one of their innermost and honest thoughts, all their fears, doubts, hopes. Movies let you sit back and observe. Books? Books let you feel everything, know everything and live everything the character lives. With literature, you can be the hero that kills the bad guy, you can be the girl in love with the hot boy in her maths class, and you can be the girl battling rare cancer and attempting unprecedented treatment. You can love, you can hate and you can feel. No restrictions. When reading, nothing else exists, you live as someone else free of your own troubles. Even if it is for only a few hundred pages.
(Image taken by Frances Carter)