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Good Question: Is The Book Better Than The Movie?

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — On the eve of the final Harry Potter movie, there are predictions that it will be the biggest money-maker in the history of Hollywood. However, when hard-core fans compare it to the original book, which comes out on top?

There’s a long history of books being turned into films. “Gone With The Wind,” “The Godfather” and “The Wizard of Oz” are among the popular movies that started as a book. But there are far more films that flopped in transition. So, why is it that the book is often better than the movie?

“It’s not always better than the movie,” notes Eric Henderson, a film critic at WCCO.COM and Slant Magazine.

“The movie has to not be trying to be the book to be successful,” he said, pointing to Stanley Kubrick films like “A Clockwork Orange” and “The Shining.”

“The Shining is great. It has the basic storyline, but takes off in a radically different direction,” he said. “The book is about ghosts. The movie is about the bitter resentment of an alcoholic father.”

That approach comes at a risk, however, especially to the devoted fan base of the original book, more interested in a faithful retelling of the novel.

“Things get left out of the movies that are in the book. They have to take a 1,000 page book and mash it down to a script which may only have 100 pages,” wrote Sandie Colby on Facebook.

That’s precisely what happened in this movie version of Harry Potter. Filmmakers even took a 700+ page book and split it into two movies, but it still is leaving out characters and plot points.

“I think this one is the best one, I’m not sure how the fans are going to react, and it’s the most exciting. But it doesn’t cover all the details in the book,” said Henderson.

“Books usually let the reader be omniscient. In a movie, you’re seeing something through a camera or director’s eyes or actor’s performance. With a book, you can own it,” he said.

Recently, a popular book called My Sister’s Keeper was released as a movie. The book ends with one sister dying, but the movie changed the ending and killed the other sister. That really irritated people.

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