I finally got round to seeing The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part Two at the cinema. It’s a great film. It has some amazing, emotional scenes (the scene with Katniss and the cat springs to mind – Jennifer Laurence really, really threw herself into that one) but something was missing. Don’t get me wrong, it was great but…
The book was better.
There’s one main reason I believe the book is superior to the film. The depiction of Katniss.
This is no reflection on Jennifer Laurence’s acting skills in any way, shape or form, but in the book, you’re in Katniss’ head. You can see all her cold calculations that she makes to survive and keep those she loves alive. Without knowing those thoughts, her motives and her actions seem a lot more straightforward in the film. Take her relationship with Peeta, there was a lot more going on in her head than what you could see on screen. If you’ve only seen the films and not read the book go read them, it’s worth it.
So this got me thinking – could the film ever be better than the book?
My knee-jerk reaction is no. Because I love books. But when I put some thought into it I realised I might be wrong.
Take another trilogy – The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. The copy I have I inherited from my dad (see the photo) and it’s held together purely by tape and prayer. I can’t tell you how much I love it. I first read it when I was 11 and I’ve read it countless times since but…confession time…some parts I skip. (Tom Bombadil I’m looking at you.) It’s just so dense. Frodo doesn’t leave the Shire for years! The songs last for pages and pages and I read them once and they’re now skipped. It’s a masterpiece and I love it but it’s not particularly accessible.
Also it has multiple endings. The Scouring of the Shire may as well be its own novel.
Now the films – they took the best parts of the book, sped up the timelines a little and still stayed relatively true to the main tale. Yes, they’re three hours long each (well, the extended versions are) and there’s a lot to take in, but they’re beautiful films. I don’t skip parts of it.
So, does that mean it’s better than the book?
Maybe The Lord of the Rings is a bad example. After all, it’s such a rich text with so much detail the film had to have a tighter edit. Otherwise we’d all still be sat in the cinema. And if I were to introduce it to someone I’d give them the book first and the film second. Just to give them that solid background information that the film could only allude to (or cut completely).
The film rarely matches up to the book. The silver screen can never truly match the image I get in my head. So for me I guess that the book will always be better than the film.
Well. Almost always.
What do you think? Am I crazy? Or is it just such a personal thing there is no right of wrong answer?