The official Mothership booth on the Eternal Debate: Books vs. Movies – Mothership.SG

A quick confession: I was enchanted by the infamous Twilight series in my college days, dragging the ridiculously thick books everywhere to read.

But when the film adaptation came out and I hung up my Team Edward jersey, it was called a soggy, nonsubstantial, bad love movie. And for the most part, they were right.

It was nothing like the alternate vampire universe I was in love with. The inner workings of Bella’s mind, essential for eliciting intrigue in readers, have not been translated to screen.

But while they are almost always outclassed by the books, film adaptations do sometimes bring audiences a new perspective, especially if it’s a hackneyed melodramatic narrative (The Notebook, are you tempted?).

Like it or not, every transition from the book to the big screen has its differences.

We enter the Book vs Film debate with five titles that everyone is familiar with.

1. Harry Potter Series

Image via IMDB

What’s good about the books:

Pure attention to detail. Take for example Snape’s ability to read minds.

This particular skill was already mentioned in the first book, published eight years before it was confirmed in The Half-Blood Prince that he was an active practitioner of Legilimency.

And here is more if you are a fan and feel the need to revisit the magic of Potterworld.

The variety of characters and storylines also add color and depth, but some have unfortunately been cut from the movies. (Hi? Peeves? Winky? Marvolo Gaunt?)

What’s good about the movies:

Quidditch. Watching an entirely fictional sport unfold is not only cinematically fresh, but exhilarating as well. I mean, you can’t fly on brooms and run after balls that roam on their own, can you?

Also, Emma Watson.

Book or movie?

Books, of course. Again: pure attention to detail.

2. Atonement

Image via IMDB Image via IMDB

What’s good about the book: As in most cases, the book is better able to explain What the hell is happening.

Because Atonement Toggles between the views of the different characters involved, the book allows readers to understand what’s going on in the characters’ heads. A squinted look and pregnant pauses just don’t explain as well as words.

What’s good about the movie: Because the book is dense with the characters’ thoughts, the film (which focuses more on surface emotions) provides more tension and a greater sense of urgency that tears our emotions apart.

Also, Keira Knightley. And James McAvoy. *swoon*

Book or movie?

The book dives below the surface and into the heads of the characters, which we believe is quite essential because Atonement revolves around the theme of misperception. That is if you are ready for some heavy reading.

3. Fight club

Image via IMDB Image via IMDB

What’s good about the book:

Fans of author Chuck Palahniuk recommend it, citing it as an amazing and poetic read. Punch, quick and with a better ending than the film adaptation – an ending so meta and dark which makes it an instant cult classic.

What’s good about the movie:

Much more coherent than the book, which is quite convoluted given that it alternates (spoiler alert) two characters played by the same character.

The film also puts more emphasis on the romance between Marla and the narrator, allowing for more depth and an ending true to the gist of the story – about a man reaching the point where he can commit to a woman ”.

So, book or movie?

It is certainly a rare case but we go with the film, because even Palahniuk himself wanted the romance to be emphasized more, that’s how the movie ended.

4. Watchmen

MALIN AKERMAN as Laurie Jupiter (left, in background), BILLY CRUDUP as Dr Manhattan and JACKIE EARLE HALEY as Rorschach (right, in background) in Warner Bros.  PicturesÕ, Paramount PicturesÕ and Legendary PicturesÕ action adventure Watchmen, Ó distributed by Warner Bros.  Pictures.  PHOTOGRAPHS MUST BE USED SOLELY FOR THE PURPOSES OF ADVERTISING, PROMOTION, ADVERTISING OR REVIEWING THIS SPECIFIC FILM AND TO REMAIN THE PROPERTY OF THE STUDIO.  NOT FOR SALE OR REDISTRIBUTION. MALIN AKERMAN as Laurie Jupiter (left, in background), BILLY CRUDUP as Dr Manhattan and JACKIE EARLE HALEY as Rorschach (right, in background) in Warner Bros. Pictures, Paramount Pictures and Legendary Pictures action adventure Watchmen, distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures.

What’s good about the book:

Simply put, you get more than Watchmen world. Each panel brings out more history, context, detail and complexity of the Watchmen universe, which links the lives of the characters together.

And because it’s a graphic novel, the panels give weight to a lot of lines and scenes that don’t look so dark in the movie.

What’s good about the movie:

The film is fascinating to watch for its faithful recreation of the graphic novel – visually pleasing and extremely creative in bringing the iconic signs and characters to life (watch the opening sequence and the scenes where Dr. Manhattan disintegrates people; it’s up to both strange and fascinating.)

(BD) Book or film?

We go with the book, seeing how many subtleties are lost in the translation on the big screen. After all, many fans and critics consider Watchmen to be “infilmable.”

5. Bridget Jones’s Diary

Image via IMDB Image via IMDB

What’s good about the book:

As the title suggests, the book is written as journal entries. Each entry exists as a brief glimpse into Bridget’s life – interspersed with lively dialogue and a self-awareness so understandable it’s hilarious – that leaves you wanting more.

Because every train of thought Bridget is carelessly recorded, it’s a first-person perspective for readers. That’s part of the reason Bridget is adored – you realize you are her, on your worst days, and (some of) your best days.

What’s good about the movie:

Aside from Renee Zellweger being perfect for the role of Bridget, there is more comedic conflict between her two male counterparts, which adds to the overall watchdog factor.

Book or movie?

Definitely the book, for its hilarious banter, first-person perspective, and Bridget’s ever-entertaining train of thought (especially when drunk).


To put it plainly, the books will (almost) always be better than his film adaptations.

Why? Because very few cinematographic adaptations can compete with the theater of the spirit. This is what makes reading such a unique experience.

Bonus: books also smell good.


Why buy books when you can borrow them from the library? Better yet, borrow them on your phone and read wherever you are. Download the NLB mobile app from google play and Apple Store today.

Top image via Amazon and Bloomsbury Publishing.

This article funds the bookworm habits of Mothership writers and helps stock our shelves.

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