Book versus movie


Did you know that the Mifflin County Library has movies to circulate?

Then I started thinking about some movies that we have that are based on the book. And the five reasons why the book is (almost, see No. 4) always better than the movie. And remember, don’t judge a book by its movie.

The movie gets lost in translation

MCL owns the new version of Agatha Christie’s “Murder on the Orient Express.” I really liked Kenneth Branagh as Hercule Poirot and he received a lot of criticism over his moustache, but I liked it. But the premise of the story is that this truly horrible kidnapper-killer is brutally stabbed 12 times. The end result is that he was killed by each of those on the train. There are 13 people on the train in the movie. Hmm. The movie didn’t explain at all why that 13th person couldn’t have been involved. Skipped right over it. Read the book.

‘That’s not how

I pictured it!’

In the “Zookeeper’s Wife,” a wife and mother becomes a hero to hundreds in war-torn Poland in the late 1930s. A lot was lost in the movie. The biggest complaint that I’ve heard was the lack of any kind of accent by the lead. The book won the Orion Book Award in 2008 and was on the New York Times best seller list for nonfiction. Of the movie, one critic said it was a “Schindler’s List” with pets. I remember the words timid and sanitized. For this one, stick with the book.


storytelling time

Most movies are about two hours long, whereas the book could be 800 pages. I’m thinking of the Harry Potter series. As a movie, it’s OK. But the book is totally so much better! I think everyone knows what a Harry Potter-nut I am. Condensing books into movies leads to omitting parts of the book or abbreviation of developments within the book. Did you know it was Doby who gave Harry Potter the gillyweed so that he could breathe underwater in “The Goblet of Fire?” And don’t even get me started on Peeves the Poltergeist and the other characters not included in the movie. You should read the books and watch the movies.

Script writing isn’t the same as novel writing

In a book, all of the thoughts the characters have are laid out for you. This doesn’t happen in a movie. I’m thinking, for example, of the “Hunger Games.” I liked reading Katniss’s thoughts about District 12 and the people in the Capital. However, I really liked that in the movies, we saw President Snow scheming with Seneca Crane. When I read the book, I didn’t even realize that guy existed. In this case, I love the movies as much as I love the books (maybe even slightly better!). I know! Madge Undersee started the Revolution when she gave Katniss the Mockingjay pin in the book. But those scenes with Effie Trinket in District 13 are fantastic, especially when she says, You know what could use a revolution? That hair!

The book stays with you

Books are the old worn-in friend with the creaky binding that lives on a shelf in your bedroom. You can’t say the same thing about a DVD. “The Shack,” by William Young, comes to mind. The book was self-published by a Canadian unknown in 2008 and rose to No.1 on the New York Times bestselling paperbacks list. The story is about a father of five who takes his family camping. The father unintentionally leaves his daughter alone and she is kidnapped and killed. This is Christian fiction and the father has an out of body experience, talks with God, and is able to help police find his daughter’s killer. The background story of the author is compelling as well. Not a book that I would read again, but people have told me how much this book means to them, how it has moved them.

Why do you think the book is usually better than the movie? Can you think of any exceptions to the rule?


Susan Miriello is the acting library director at the Mifflin County Library. She is reading another book in the Commissario Guido Brunetti series by Donna Leon. This series has been made into a TV movie series in Germany. It is a movie, about Italians in Venice, who speak in German, with the subtitles in English. She doesn’t like the movies at all.