The student news site of Stroudsburg High School


The student news site of Stroudsburg High School


The student news site of Stroudsburg High School


What does SJHS prefer: The book or the movie?


Books against movies; a fight of interests as old as time.

One is a methodical approach to storytelling; static pages and pages of information utilized to give characters depth, nuance, and gravitas. The other is an intense, visceral experience for the eyes and ears that can sometimes lack the same depth of the aforementioned novel.  

I am right in the middle of the books versus movies controversy. Both sides sound appealing to me: from family movie nights with popcorn and junk food to curling up with a good book late at night in the warmth, juxtaposing the cold outside. Like all things, both arguments have pros and cons while having that sweet spot; good movie adaptations.

Books can give you a more profound experience with a story. You get to know the characters better, you get a better insight into the character’s thoughts and feelings, and a book is usually the original version of a story. Movie adaptations do exist, but often you see movies changing important events and characters from the books that are crucial to the story. The Percy Jackson films (2010, 2013) are considered some of the worst movie adaptations out there (on RottenTomatoes only 53% of more than 250,000 ratings were more than 3.5 stars). They changed almost everything from the books and fans of the books were left very disappointed. 

However, some good movie adaptations do exist. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens was a worldwide bestseller, and when it was announced that it was going to be turned into a movie, fans rejoiced. Coming from someone who read the book and watched the movie, I think justice was served. The movie was made with great respect for the book, and many things were left unchanged from the storyline. I watched this movie with my family who hadn’t read the book, all of whom are cinema lovers, and they loved it almost as much as I did. Shawshank Redemption (1994), another example, is considered to be a cinematic classic. Originally a Stephen King novel, the film starring Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman won numerous film awards and has remained atop many Best Films of the Century lists. King himself has said he considers the film better than his book. It goes to show that people who haven’t read the books can still enjoy the movie adaptations.

Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien is another big movie franchise that was once nothing but beloved novels. However, unlike King,  J.R.R. Tolkien’s son, Christopher Tolkien, hated the movies that Peter Jackson directed. Many think he is unreasonable and faking it since he had a conflict with Peter Jackson before he even recorded one scene for the movie. Lord of the Rings is a perfect example of how action can be better shown through movies than books. There’s a popular belief that the movies “fill in the gaps” for the fighting scenes in the books. Tolkien is well known for his greatly detailed contributions to the story; such as the entire language that he came up with, depiction of his characters, and expressive details regarding “Middle-Earth.” 

Some adaptations can also revive some books or interest more people in the story. For example, the Harry Potter films were done well in relevance to the books. J.K. Rowling owns the intellectual property rights of the entire Harry Potter series; She was very involved in the films, and she made sure that the movies looked exactly like she pictured in her head as she was writing the books. This leads to a problem many people reported having with books; visualization of the story. From the survey conducted by The Mountaineer, 36% of Stroudsburg Junior High students revealed that they had trouble with this. One anonymous 8th grader said, “I prefer movies over books because you can really see how everything happens and how everything comes to life.” 

When shown these results and answers, Mr. Willock, an 8th-grade reading teacher at Stroudsburg, responded with, “I expect results like this. Movies are right there and it’s easy for kids, or really anybody, to just watch it and not put much effort into the thinking process. I feel because of technology, so much is geared toward visual stimulation – you’re always looking at something; a screen. I mean even at school now we are often on screens, where when I first started teaching all the way up to about 2019, we really didn’t do that. Then COVID hit and now even schools are geared toward everything being online; everything’s on a screen.”

 Some people love the story because of the movies or love the movies because of the stories. Harry Potter, in my personal experience, is a long series of gigantic books that I would not have the time to read. When I watched the movies, I couldn’t say I loved them, but I couldn’t say that I wasn’t interested in them, either. Watching the movies changed my opinions on all of the novels. A reason for liking movies more in the surveys was that they were more “entertaining.” About 19% of students explained that they liked movies more for this reason. I would have to agree with this reason when it comes to the Harry Potter series. Mr. Willock spoke about Harry Potter specifically when he told The Mountaineer, “The first and second movies stayed pretty tight to the books, but the third movie strayed off course since they were starting to change directors and actors. The last book got split into two movies, so the last two movies brought more justice to the books, since they had more time to go through more scenes and details. Books three, four, and five were poorly done. Book five is my favorite Harry Potter book but movie five is my least favorite Harry Potter movie. I thought it was a letdown because most of it was just a bunch of kids running around breathing heavily and acting scared. There was so much more to the books than that and it went from scene to scene too quickly; that book could have been made into two movies.”

All this said and taken into consideration, I’m not saying that all movies have to be based on books to be great and interesting. Avatar (2009) was a spectacular movie that used ahead of its time illustrations, and the director of the movie got ideas from several science fiction novels. Still, the movie wasn’t fully based on any particular book. The director of Avatar, James Cameron, stated that some parts of the movie came to him as dreams when he was younger. How imaginative does a person have to be to think of this kind of grandiose story? A novelized version of this movie would not have been as impressive without its visual effects and rich colors. Avatar is a story best told through the visual medium that is film.  

Another well-known movie that was a book before the movie came out is the 1999 cult classic,  Fight Club. As we all know – what would Fight Club be without Brad Pitt? Even the author of the book, Chuck Palahniuk, admits the film does a lot of things better than hs novel. Many things were different between the novel and the movie – for instance, the biggest change of all is the ending. Now, all opinions are different, so there are people out there who prefer the book, but the ending in the movie is more “dramatic” while the resolution in the book is more “explainable.” I haven’t read the book myself, but I’m sure it would be worth it to check it out and find out if I’m on the book or movie side.

Adrian, a 9th-grader at Stroudsburg Junior High School, stated that movies are “more socially appropriate.” There’s definitely an argument either way. What’s most important is how you, as either the reader or the viewer, connect to the story.  Your opinions are what make you unique, and it ultimately shapes your personality. So, the big question is: Which do you prefer?


Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Mountaineer Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *