To watch or to read? that is the question

To show books transformed to television

Do you prefer to watch the film or read the book?

Brit Bennetts’ ‘The Vanishing Half’ was shortlisted for the 2021 Women’s Prize for Fiction. It focuses on identical twin sister’s in Jim Crow America, where one does ‘Racial Passing’.

HBO has bought the rights to adapt it into a TV series. I also came across that Brittle Paper announced that Achebe’s classics, Things Fall Apart, No Longer at Ease and Arrow of God, will also be a TV Series.

My question is, when a book goes to the big screen, do the screenwriters and directors do it justice?

I remember a conversation I had with a very close friend of mine whilst at University. We debated on a particular scene from Harold Robbins ’79 Park Avenue’. That was years ago, but you hadn’t read a good book if you had not read a Harold Robbins novel. Anyway, I was adamant that it went a particular path whilst she was saying something different. At a point, I doubted my sanity. I know I had read the book, and I know what I read. Her recollection of the events was not as exciting as mine. It was when she said,

I’ll confirm it with my sister because we watched it together.

I then knew we were both sane.

She had watched the film whilst I had read the book.

If, and when, they take Achebe’s and Bennetts work to screen, will it still retain its authentic story? Or is there a risk of the original narrative getting lost or distorted in the attempt?

When adapted into a film, Chimamanda Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun was something I was looking forward to watching. But the excitement did not last. If I had not read the book, I do not think I would have watched the film to the end. I hold this fear for both Bennett and Achebe.

There are a few prize-winning books made into films. I have watched these films, but I do not think I will read the book. 

These include;

Schindlers List 1982

The Handmaids Tale 1986

The English Patient 1996

Atonement 2001

The Life of Pi 2002

Brick Lane 2003

Notes on a Scandal 2003

The White Tiger 2008

The Long Song 2010

It was after I had watched the films that I realised they were Booker Prize winners. Maybe, the fear of shattering a lovely film is what is holding me back from venturing to read the books.

So, I have read both Achebe and Benetts books and I hope the screenwriters do both of them  justice.

Are there any books you have read and subsequently been disappointed by the film, or vice -versa?

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.