Book vs. Movie

I think on balance, and it is especially evident from the many comments posted on blogs, that books offer far more depth and also allow a more personal interpretation of characters and locations. With a film there is no imagining what the place looks like, there it is… right in front of you. What are the striking features of the protagonist? Gone in an instant is your question, because you have the guy standing before your eyes.

However, if an image is worth a thousand words then how many tomes should a film be worth with its on average 144,000 frames? In that respect, films fail to meet the mark, but then literature and celluloid are not scientific disciplines and cannot be measured as such.

Where I have found films certainly underperform consistently is in the area of YA books, I cannot, however, help but notice more high-brow books, which one would assume could never be matched by film, do not have such one-way traffic.

For example, Angela’s Ashes is a beautiful book but what an artistic portrayal by the director Alan Clarke! They are on a par for me. So is the Shawshank Redemption where the screenwriter has taken a central theme only hinted at in the original story and made it triumphant on the silver screen, namely the ideal of Hope. Magnificent script adapatation, with all of Stephen King’s eternal lines kept safe within its body and then the music score on top. Both works are victories. It is one of the greatest films and arguably the greatest novella.

Where I enjoyed the film far more than its masterpiece of literature was The Name of the Rose. Which for some, if not many, will be seen as a sacrilegious declaration. There is no doubting Umberto Eco’s genius as writer and historian, but the novel was overflowing with Latin and I gained a greater sense of medieval melancholy in the movie than in the book, which gave it a more sympathetic tone. That said both treatments of the story inspired me greatly to write my first novel, The Last Treasure of Ancient England, and include Latin riddles and cyphers, but not too many.

And one ‘book’ that can never, ever, be equalled in film is anything on Sherlock Holmes. TV series have come and gone and entertained us all, but none, not even major features have come close to submerging the viewer wholly into the menacing smog of Victorian London and immersed us fully in the turmoil of Holmes’ eccentricity.

But what if we were to turn the tables? Consider this dilemma: could the book version of Amélie ever be as good as the film? I sincerely doubt it. And why is that?

One thing is certain though, no matter how much we loved the book, we are drawn helplessly like moths to the silver screen as soon as it is released at the cinemas.

“Let the game be ventured!”

Ever wondered what were the words that Duke William delivered to his men on the morning of Hastings? The Bayeux Tapestry cannnot help us here, nor can the pages of the Chronicle of Battle Abbey. However, we are in luck as The Last Treasure of Ancient England actually contains his long-lost speech and we are even more fortunate at this point in time as it has been faithfully reproduced in the lines below. This is the novel’s contribution to the 950th anniversary of Hastings and also to celebrate its momentous book launch on the very day of battle. Let the game be ventured!

From Chapter V: Battle

2000px-blason_region_fr_normandie-svg

“Men! We march in the footsteps of Caesar himself but we are bolder soldiers. We have Viking blood in us! Where Caesar only came to see, we have come to stay. Up there is a perjurer and thief. God himself has led us safely here so that we may exact his retribution. And your reward shall be had in this world and the next. If you have followed me to England out of loyalty, I salute you, but when we carry the field today it is I that shall be loyal to you and grant you all the land and title you rightly deserve! Behind us lies the sea and certain death, but before you stands a future filled with riches. No warrior has ever been offered such a prize. Shall you take it?! Then follow me to your destiny, for today we will conquer a kingdom. The Saxon is no match for the Norman!”

The rest is history…