A while back I had an interesting e-mail conversation with Tracy Schultze about movies and TV series adapted from books. The specific show was Man in the High Castle (Philip K. Dick) that was on Amazon Prime. The discussion awakened some of the thoughts I've had brewing inside for years as I was once a film buff and always a reader.
I’ve come to accept that books and their adapted films are two valid and valued art forms with their own positive and negative characteristics. The book, of course, will be the primary source and where we go for the authentic narrative. But, film can be a masterful art form and, if done right, offers an enriching experience to an author’s work (a soundtrack for one!). What I get from a film version is the director’s re-telling of a story as he/she experienced it and with his or her artistic input. Some do it better than others and some directors I trust with story more than others but I have no qualms about film adaptions. For the most part I welcome them.
WRT High Castle I only saw the first season and enjoyed it enough to watch more but just haven’t gotten to it. I’ve not read the book(s?) and actually I’ve only read one of DIck’s books so I’m not in any way qualified to say whether this adaptation is good or bad. I just know i enjoyed the film. It’s a common complaint that a film isn’t true to the source but that’s the nature of film making. I’ve read LOTR twice, once just a few months before Jackson’s trilogy started, and found his movies exceptional and I’ve watched them multiple times. I sincerely doubt anyone outside of academia is more well versed in Tolkein’s narrative than Jackson and his team. They loved the books probably more that I do so I trust them to present as close to an authentic telling as possible within the bounds of film making. Of course I saw the missing bits and some changes but it was not distracting in the least and I’d be very willing to both read the book and see the movies again and again.
The same goes for the Ice and Fire series (adapted to Game of Thrones). I read the first three books before seeing any of the HBO series and I read the next two after seeing a season or two but other than I now have Peter Dinkledge imprinted on me as Tyrion along with the actors playing Arya, Cerci, Jamie and the rest I understood why some plot lines were cast aside in favor of expedience or pacing the films. I wanted to see Lady Stoneheart come on screen and grumbled a bit when she didn’t but I’ll always have the books if I want to follow that plot line. I don’t see it as a reason for rejecting what is really an excellent series in favor of some purity test. Take each for what they offer and allow them to compliment each other rather than oppose.
You can extend this argument to nearly all of the classic films that were adaptations but who wants to judge Gone with the Wind or The Maltese Falcon against their respective novels? Just enjoy them for what they are—entertainment.
I’ve always been a book-first, movie-second person but over the years (many, many years) I’ve adjusted that attitude a bit. There are hundreds of movies I’ve seen and loved where I never read the book. So, Judy Garland will forever be Dorothy Gale and Anthony Perkins will always be Norman Bates. And, if I should ever get around to reading the books I doubt I’d be annoyed if they were described differently in the pages. It becomes sort of a chicken-and-egg thing (whichever entered my life first is the ‘real’ version).
I’m rambling now. This question of book vs. movie has rambled around in my head for years so this gave me an opportunity to spill some of it. Probably more than you expected or wanted.