Wednesday, 5 November 2008

RANT: Movies are great, but...

Books are better. This seems to be the prevalent thought, that movies are but mere dolly mixtures compared to the rich meal of a book. They are a one-night stand compared to a novel's intimate relationship. I have more of these but it seems I should get to the point, which in fairness I won't get to until the end of the post, but I should get to discussing the point rather then continue padding my introduction with witty but irrelevant one-liners. Ok. I'm going to argue the above statement as if it were in the form of a question, and hopefully put aside my bias ( This is a movie site where nothing but shit about movies is ever posted) and come to a somewhat systematic logical conclusion. A petty question, for sure, but it needs to be answered regardless.

Books are better:
Someone with a unique ability to get to the crux of matters once said that with a film you see someone else's imagination but with a book you utilise your own. And nothing is quite as vivid as one's own imagination. Thus books benefit from reader interaction, it'll tell you all about it but what you see is as much your creation as it was the author's. A film, no matter how good, can't be this involving. Sure you can use the power of the unseen etc, but a world is created in film that you are simply a witness whereas a novelised world is your's to create. Thus books benefit from their inferior technology. Lovers of language will almost inevitably side on that of literature also; Can the visual medium of film compete with the thrill that reading good writing can bring? Well how can it? Similarly, the length of a book and the detail which it can delve into and the characterisation it can pursue can't be equalled by most films purely because of the practical issue of time. Unless your watching Spiderman, which will by 2011 have spent over 10 hours of film exploring the character of Peter Parker. Ultimately, books draw you in and give you a more complete ride. For the most part they don't have commercial expectations to meet or the limitations of what can practically be done on their back. They're free to tell any story anytime with their only concern being good, or at the least entertaining. Is Film such a free flowing medium?

Films are better:

Your own imagination is over-rated. Someone else can make it better in every way and the thought that nothing is as good as it is silly. How many times have you read something and think you've understood, only for someone else to express their interpretation in a way that makes you realise how lame you actually are. Film is that persons's views contained in a majestic cascade of amazingness that combines what all other mediums do best and mesh it into one. Ok that may have been a smidge enthusiastic, but the point still comes across I think. The Argument that film can't do character as well as books essentially means film can't do character for as long as books, but as for the quality, well that's a different matter. For a book is limited to words and phrases, can it really be better then seeing that character come to life in voice and visage. And visual expression and tone of voice, so crucial to communication in real life, can say in a second what a 2 page rant on a person's thoughts and feelings can say in.. well 2 pages. To clarify, in a film characters are given new dimensions of what they can be. For lovers of the visual image its no contest, but for the word freaks out there the competition is less simple then I made it above for the sake of that argument. Look how successfully Chuck Palanhiuk's prose came to life in Fight Club, and also how intensely it accompanied the images. Film, through voice-over and dialogue can be easily as well written as a novel, just a lot less rambling. Which is surely a gift sent from above.

Answering this question is about as pointless as trying to telekinetically type this essay, because its so subjective to individual opinion. There are things that each medium can do better then the other, but the assumption that books are better just coz, is a little simple. They do stop alzheimer's though, so there's that. Books may be healthier, but movies are more enjoyable. The Dolly mixture to the nutritious meal. You know which one you enjoyed more.


Antonionioni said...

I wouldn't say one was better than the other, either. It's like saying France is better than Italy. Some people just prefer Italy, yeah? (Street talk there at the end, sorry.)

pearlmarilyn said...

France IS better than Italy, just to clear that up right now. "Your own imagination is over-rated". This is just an out and out lie. Books are not dependent on imaginative readers: this tends to be the sign of bad writing... But Id say that with both books and films, its more of a collaboration between what the writer puts in and what the reader extracts. (Except books are a little bit more sneaky, as they manipulate you into thinking you had a lot more control than is actually the case.) I think I can also safely say that some of the most 'interesting' films of our generation our ones that play upon this collaboration, a few David Lynch titles spring to mind...