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Very few people are silly enough these days to actually judge a book by its cover, although, of course, most of us haven't reached the incredible zen level of control to not judge people by their appearance. We're just not wired that way. But that's not what I'm talking about right now. What was I talking about right now?

Oh. Right.

In the past couple of days I've run into several folks who mentioned not liking one or another story. When asked why, each of them replied in such a way that made it clear to me that they had never read the book they were talking about. They'd seen the movie.

Folks, seriously. This is ridiculous. Think about how much you can read in ninety minutes. That's the length of a typical modern film. If you read a page a minute, you read ninety pages. Most screenplays aim for this length. This is the "magic number" of screenplay pages. Probably because most coked-up hollywood interns don't have the attention span to read anything much longer than that. No, no, I'm kidding. Ha ha ha. This is fun. Huh? Oh, right. To the point, then.

When was the last time you saw a successful book that was ninety pages long?

Okay, okay, so there's The Metamorphosis. Think of another one.

Ha! See? there's no way to effectively cram an entire book into a movie! A miniseries is probably a little better, but really, there's nothing moviemakers can do to effectively reproduce the experience of reading a book--especially one in a first-person narrative. It just doesn't translate to film.

Don't misunderstand me, here. There have been plenty of outstanding films made that were also based on books. I'm not trying to suggest otherwise. But if a movie sucks, and you know it's based on a book, don't assume the book is lousy too.

Judge a book by its bookiness.
yclept notes: Sometimes the movie is *better* than the book. ;)

This is a rare situation, but certainly true. However, even if this is the case, you still can't judge one by the other.

joes3029 notes: The one example I can think of where the movie was better than the book was The Shawshank Redemption. That is definitely an exception though.

wertperch notes: Oh! Exceptions? 2001: A Space Odyssey. Based on a Clarke short story. Many films based on Stephen King shorts... I know, you aren't looking for more picky buggers... but the novel, 2001 wasn't approaching the film.

Oh, come on, perch. I'm always looking for picky buggers!

ncc05 notes: The Bourne Identity isn't exactly the height of literature, and is another example of the movie being about a 100 times better. The plot is so different that the movie is arguably based on the book, but there you have it.

jclast notes: Sometimes they don't even tell the same story at all. The Lost World (Jurassic Park II, anyone?).

Swap notes: Righto.

Back atcha.

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