“Being a ‘book purist’ can be irritating” but are film adaptations really that bad?


Everyone knows that person who says, “oh the film was great, but the book was better!” I’m sorry to say, but I am one of those people.

I welcomed Game of Thrones to our screens with gritted teeth, forcing myself to ignore the deviations from the fantastic books, written by George RR Martin. Don’t get me wrong, the first series was brilliant, but it went downhill with series 2 – Daenerys’ storyline in particular – and series 3 was only marginally better. The third book, which the third and fourth seasons are based on, is one of my favourite books of all time, and to see certain scenes butchered almost brings a tear to my eye. 

But it’s not all doom and gloom – right?

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak is another of my favourite books, and the recent film adaptation was just as amazing. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell, a fascinating novel that tied by brain in knots at times, was adapted into a beautiful and simpler film. And 1984 by George Orwell was certainly done justice by its adaptation – a film that was released, quite appropriately, in 1984.

One of my favourite genres is historical fiction. I love stepping back in time to another world, and with The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber, I was not disappointed. In 2011, the BBC released a four-part adaptation of the novel. Set in Victorian London, the true nature of the era is revealed, and the rose-tinted glasses of many historical fictions are nowhere to be seen. The adaptation was, in my mind, equal to the 800-page novel.

As a huge Harry Potter fan, I’m well aware of the gripes of the fandom. But I – shock horror! – adore the films as much as the books, and find the adaptations fantastic in their own right. The same goes for Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks, and its BBC adaptation, despite large parts being missed out in the latter. And Girl, Interrupted, the chilling memoir by Susanna Kaysen, was beautifully adapted into a film starring Angelina Jolie and Winona Ryder.

This may shock certain people, but Tolkien and I are not friends. I simply cannot get on with his writing style, and put The Hobbit down in exasperation after the first twenty or so pages. The films, however, I find more enjoyable, if not a bit much – three films, really?! Similarly, Ken Follett is not counted amongst my friends. I really liked the TV adaptation of The Pillars of the Earth, but I found his prose tiresome. And as for The Great Gatsby, well, I groaned my way through that novel during A Level English, and the original film was also an ordeal. But the recent adaptation was so much better.

Just as I believe that A Song of Ice and Fire by George RR Martin is far better than its adaptation, I also stand by my opinion that The Hunger Games books were also superior to the films. While Jennifer Lawrence is fantastic, the films just don’t do it for me. True Blood, the HBO series which is coming to an end this year, is another example of where deviating from the books doesn’t work. The Sookie Stackhouse Novels by Charlaine Harris are my guilty pleasures, and the TV adaptation is just.. weird. The same goes for Dexter, adapted by Showtime, which ended last year. The books by Jeff Lindsay are simply brilliant, and as a Criminology student, I never thought I’d end up cheering for a serial killer. The TV show started deviating from the books in season 1, but it remained enjoyable until season 5. I threw my hands up in disgust when season 8 culminated in Dexter swimming out of a hurricane, and buggering off to become a lumberjack. No, seriously.

Being a “book purist” can be irritating, I know, and I apologise profusely. But if you read the books, you’d understand.


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