Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Why Movies and Books are The Same

I am so bad at this Blogging Business - I was going to have three well-thought-out posts about movies/books and try and have something somewhat similar to an intelligent discussion.  Well, I got one post out of the bag, and got busy with work, podcasting, and life in general.  Oh and I got sick somewhere in there, too (and STILL released a podcast on New Year's Eve).

So now I'm scrapping my original plans, and giving you my reasoning (or at least, the best reasoning I can remember) for why film is essentially the same medium as print.  What a crazy notion!  I'm probably not even going to try framing this as an intelligent debate, either.

The main reason I came up with this argument in the first place was I was trying to classify film and books under different mediums: film is visual media, and books are intellectual.  But wait, we use our eyes in both, don't we?  And films can jumpstart our brains just the same as a book, right?  So they must both be visual media!  So then I thought some more (sometimes, a dangerous prospect).

It's my view that the movies are simply a forced perspective narration, just the same as books - and this is why film adaptations are almost always inherently different from the source material.  With books, authors have the luxury of picking any view point - our minds can paint the picture, so to speak.  Unfortunately for film, we're stuck with one unchanging perspective (with a few experimental exceptions, I'm sure): third person.  There are minor variations (sometimes, we are omnipotent and others not) but for the most part, this is how a movie must be presented.  Wait, did I say omnipotent?  I am pretty sure I meant omniscient.  If only we were omnipotent viewers, we could change some frustratingly bad movies.

As I said just last paragraph, this is the only reason (well, that's a lie, there are other reasons that don't prove/disprove my point) that books and their film adaptations are different.  The ones that closely match probably do so because the narrative in the original book is in the third person; often, I find that third person limited offers the easiest adaptations.

I think that was my general point, and I wish I had made it better the way I originally intended.  But I just needed to get it out there.


  1. Aaaaaaaagh it just ate my comment!!!!

    Um, what I think I said was: Hmmmm, interesting idea. I'm not sure I entirely agree -- I think I would disagree on the translations of POV between film and text, and on the inherent possibilities within each, although I do agree that some of the problems translating from page to screen come from the way text is capable of providing an intimate journey inside a character's head to a degree film can't match (and film is good at other things -- immediacy, vividness -- that text can't match).

    Er... but maybe I will actually have a coherent reply when I'm not tired/lazy (take your pick), and either come back to comment in more depth or post a response on my own blog (the latter only with your permission, of course).

  2. Be my guest Sarah! No need for permission from me to lift ideas for blog posts. After all, that's what the Internet is for - steali- I mean sharing! ;)

  3. Steve, I swear I am actually very, very slowly working on this!

    1. I mean, on a response to this entry.