By Richard Jay Parker
For most readers the argument is pretty academic. Books win hands down and the movie adaptation is often only interesting from the perspective of how the director's vision and actors' performances stand up to what you created in your imagination.
Movies rarely convey the depth and subtlety of books and frequently overpump them to satisfy a Hollywood sensibility.
But it all depends on whether you read the book first. If you didn't, how much of the movie is already implanted when you pick up the book? I recall finding it impossible not to think of Jack Nicholson as McMurphy when I read Kesey's ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST.
I also read Jeff Lindsay's DEXTER after enjoying the series. Michael C Hall was in my head throughout. It's one of those rare instances when a lot of readers believe the TV series to be better than the books. Personally, I found the books darker and more humorous - Dexter's backseat psyche whispering blackly funny ideas into his ear was something that wasn't conveyed on the small screen.
Then there are movies that attempt to take on books that are unfilmable. THE NAKED LUNCH by William Burroughs for instance. The movie became a very different entity with little to do with the novel. AMERICAN PSYCHO took a different approach to the wealth of subject matter and merely tried to use key scenes to create a representation of the themes that Bret Easton Ellis explored. I thought that Mary Harron did a pretty good job but watching a movie and reading a book are simply two very different entertainment experiences. One serves it up while the other requires the complete investment of your imagination.
So is there an instance of the book and the movie being equally enjoyable? Personally, A CLOCKWORK ORANGE is one of the few examples I can think of. I enjoyed the book and its moral dilemma as well as simultaneously learning the language of Nadsat. Kubrick's interpretation of the story, his striking visuals and undeniable stylising of the character make it difficult to separate the two in my mind. FALLING ANGEL is another example. I saw the movie (ANGEL HEART) first but enjoyed Hjortsberg's book because I knew what the ultimate destination was.
Obviously, it's all subjective but I think it's often the case of not expecting the movie to be as good as a personal reading experience but that it should use its own devices to add something extra.
Anyone out there have a book and a movie they enjoyed equally?