The Book or the Movie?

The Bourne Ultimatum is finally out in movie theatres in Nairobi. I haven’t watched the movie yet although I intend to at the first opportunity I get. What has been interesting though is the inevitable debate on whether the movie is better than the book. This debate I guess has been going on since the first movie adaptations of popular books began. Many literature purists will always argue that books are always more superior to movies but this is often said with a hint of superiority complex cos it is often argued that reading is a more intellectual activity that just following an already packaged movie. I wont play down the importance of reading books (which I wholeheartedly support) but I also think that in many cases the movie can be better than the book and may also lead to more people appreciating and understanding the book.

The following is just a sample of some my thoughts on some of the movies that I have in my DVD collection that I have read also read the book from which they were adapted.


  • The Godfather – by Mario Puzo, This is one of the most facinating novels that I read while still in high school the story was so well written and I do believe that this is one of the greatest novels ever written. In this case I valued the book more than the movie, I had to watch the movie a couple of times before I really appreciated it but the movie also added value because whenever you think of Don Corleone Marlon Brando immediately comes to mind. 

    Book ♥♥♥♥♥ / Movie ♥♥♥♥


  • Jurrasic Park -by Michael Chrichton; For this one I first watched the movie before I read the book, I was so enthralled by the movie that I quickly went out looking for the book and quickly went through all the other Michael Crichton books as well, the book was definately more detailed and helped explain much more than the movie, the other Crichton movie adaptations apart from The Lost World and Disclosure such as Time Line, Congo, Sphere were much less interesting than the books. I guess the tech aspects are too detailed for a good cinema experience.

Book ♥♥♥♥♥ / Movie ♥♥♥♥


  • The Bourne Identity/Supremacy by Robert Ludlum; Ludlums books are extremely detailed and intricate and I doubt any movie producer can be able to accurately depict all the things that occur in the books but the Bourne movies are definately a very good attempt to dramatize the books and for that I will give them a goood score but the books are definately better.



  • The Shawshank Redemption by Stephen King; I am a loyal Stephen King Fan and I believe he is the greatest story writer and his characters are always believable unfortunately most of the screen adaptations of Stephen King novels almost always disappoint cos they don’t give enough time to the character development which is always key in the books (before they start being haunted or hacked) Of the older movies I can only reccomend Christine as a good attempt. As for The  Shawshank Redemption which is actually an adaptation of the short novella Rita Hayworth and The Shawshank Redemption from his Four Seasons compilation I can trully say that the Movie surpassed the book, I rated Shawshank as one of the greatest movies ever made but the book is also excellent so I give them all top marks. The other two stories in Four Seasons, The Body was also made into a pretty good movie – Stand by Me but Apt Pupil was not good at all.

Book ♥♥♥♥♥ / Movie ♥♥♥♥♥


  • The Constant Gardener by John Le Carre; I only bought the book because it was set in Kenya but after I started reading it I found it quite captivating. I watched the movie after reading the book and in my view the movie script stayed very true to the movie. It is difficult to decide which was better but I will have to back the book since it was much more detailed.

Book♥♥♥♥ / Movie ♥♥♥


  • The Lord of The Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien; I first heard of the Lord of the Rings when The Fellowship of the Ring movie came out I watched the movie first on Video and loved it this inspired me to get the book to read. In the case of the LOTR I will admit that the books at first are definately hard to read but after watching the movie I found it much easier to understand the book but overall I prefer the movie to the book and the 12 disc DVD boxset is the pride of my DVD collection

Book ♥♥♥♥ / Movie ♥♥♥♥♥


  • Queen of the the Damned by Anne Rice; I am a fan of Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles and Mayfair Witches series which I have read most of however with the movies only Interview with a Vampire starring Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt was really a good movie, Queen of the damned which was Aaliyahs last movie before her untimely death was not a great movie however the redeeming feature was the excellent visual effects on the scary stuff which I totally loved but overall the book was much much better

Book ♥♥♥♥ / Movie ♥♥

Onto other stuff, I lost my Motorolla SLVR phone fortunately I had just upgraded to another phone but I still needed the second phone for my Safaricom line which I just use for calling only I think murphys law must have come to play to deny me the bragging rights of having two high end phones. Talking of phones multichoice/KBC is launching Mobile TV in Kenya it figures just when I had upgraded my phone with all the features I thought I would ever need! See story here.

ps. Gollum kinda reminds me of this fella.



18 Responses

  1. Very few movies can shinda the books coz of the detail aspect. But Godfather and Bourne movies are well done. But although Godfather stuck to the script fully, Bourne has deviated a little bit when it comes to Jason Bourne’s love interest and also they miss the section he was David Webb. I wont spoil the movie for you, but it is a definite must see. Best movie of the year in my opinion.

    I agree that a 500 page novel can definately hold more detail than a 2 hour movie, I am eagerly waiting to watch the Bourne Ultimatum.

  2. that pic of George Bush is too funny.

    i think the reason movie never measure up with books is because when one reads they imagine scenes, colors, characters, sound, scents etc uniquely. it is difficult for a director to capture exactly how each person would envision a book translated into a movie.

    i read less and watch more so my opinion might not be based on too many comparisons

    Yeah its always disappointing when you find the actor in the movie does not potray the book character in the way you expected but I guess that is because we all have a different intepratation of the characters.

  3. The Bourne series of movies has been done as one long story, whereas the books are anything but. The first movie was closest in premise to the book it’s based on. The second two movies, however, are nothing like the books.

    I think for dramatic effect they had to make it look like a continous story so that the sequel can fit right in, I don’t find anything wrong with that.

    Ah, so we differ on LOTR. I prefer the books to the movies, though the movies do come close to what I’d expect of them. I find the detail in the books so much better, especially after having slogged through the Silmarillion. If you thought LOTR was a tough read, then Silmarillion is impossible!

    Yes watching the movie made it much easier to follow the book and there are very big differences is some sections between book and movie which definately had to be done to give the movie a wider appeal especially in the ending which they had to try and give it a happy ending.

    Another book that’s been made into a million and one adaptations in movies is Count of Monte Cristo. For that, the book any day over the movie. There’s no way you will compress 1000 pages into a 2 hour movie and make something out of it. And even with artistic license, there were too many discrepancies in the last version of the movie that it killed the story completely for me who had read the book.

    Funny that I haven’t read or watched the Count of Monte Cristo but I agree with you that movie directors should try be as faithful as possible to the story. If it was too long maybe they should have made it into 2 or 3 movies like LOTR

  4. I agree with with Udi and 3N. I like the detail that books provide. While reading, I tend to create my own movie in the head, complete with scenes and characters. When I watch the movie adapted from the book, it always ends up being a disappointment!

    You’ve got me wondering what happens in reverse and you watch the movie first in that case you would be picturing the character as you know him from the movie.!

    I read the Godfather years ago, several times. It was a very captivating book. To this day, when I hear anything about Mafiosos, I always think of Godfather.
    I am yet to read/watch the constant gardener.
    Nice post

    The Godfather is definately a great book the other Mario Puzo books like the Last Don were also good but could not match the appeal of the grandfather, For me also whenever I picture Mafioso I always picture the actors in the movie.

  5. I used to be ardent reaver huko in the late 90’s, went thru all Ludlum books, stephen king, sheldon, J Collins, Daniella Steel (yes)……. the movie dont quite capture everything in a book but all the same i dont mind doing both

    Kwani what happened you stopped being ardent? Ati you read Danielle Stelle LOL! (any way I read a couple too)

  6. the book of course, now off to actually read the post.

    It seems its taking you a long time to read this post so just wait for the movie then LOL!

  7. Wherever I see Gollum’s pix, I cant stop laughing…I have not read the book lakini..

    I’m sure the double dose up here will keep you happy for a long time

  8. I prefer the book..the movie script is always too skeletal as compared to the book…

    I watched Puzo’s The godfather, Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code, and Ludlum’s Bourne series with some scenes sadly enough the audience in the movie hall kept on grunting …seem they couldn’t make out what was going on in the big screen..luckly, i had read both books and i had to narrate the storyline to my girlfriend who kept saying ati i had wasted her time…

    Borne Ultimatum is a nice movie..i rate it five stars..its a must watch..

    I forgot Da Vinci Code the book is ten times better than the movie. I will have to squeeze in time for Bourne Ultimatum this weekend or next

  9. Hey – you have the Godfather? thought you told me the movie was boring! At least now you recgnize the greatest movie ever made. I’m not a novel person so I don’t think there’s any movie I can compare to a book, maybe a movie appeals better to my short attention span.
    On Shawshank Redemption, that’s a movie that was highly unappreciated, how did it lose best picture to … Forrest Gump!

    I watched the serialization on TV and it was good. Shawshanks redemption never fails to move me when I watch it.

  10. Im an ardent reader and only go to the theatres for the kids entertainment. I prefer to read a book first and this has led to me getting disappointed when I watch an adaptation.

    You are bang on point as far as The Godfather is concerned.

  11. I have yet to find a movie that I loved more than the book. It has to do with having my own image and expectations of the characters. That said, gone with the wind came very close, and I think that you won’t be disappointed with the Bourne Ultimatum.

  12. loooooooool at that pic of Geogre bush… lol

    now if you want a good movie watch american gangsta its been released on friday 2nd november its a denzel washington movie… however since wewe ni rafiki … i will show you where to watch a bootleg copy …. the whole movies kabla its release.d!!

    check it out hapa

    www. weka hiyo http

  13. Just logging in to tuma salamu

  14. The book is better. When a movie is based on a book, to me it is like being taught how to read and at the same time reading the book from someone else’s perspective. As for this Bourne thing, I haven’t read the book neither have I watched the movie, YET.

  15. A very good post indeed! i agree with you on the movies vs books you have up there, at least the ones i have watched….

  16. I usually vote for the books coz I like the details, but many movies are equally stimulating eg the Godfather and Harry Potter series. I’ve read a number of Ludlums and only watched 1 so I won’t comment on that. Action tends to translate well onscreen but certain emotions and thoughts don’t (or else the movie will last forever). I think with a great storyline, movies and books should complement each other.

  17. oh boy the tato has found his website

    1. I loved Last Don more that Godpapa…and why doesnt anyone mention the great AL Pacino????

    books always win.
    only in one instance was i satisfied by the movie and that was The Client.

    My God The Firm destroyed that Grisham novel and to think it was a big success

    Also of mention was Thorn Birds done justice by the TV series

    Barbara Taylor Bradford…he TV series were better than the Novel

    Da Vinci Code the movie sucked.

    None of the Sidney Sheldons were recreated to satisfaction…lol or Danielle Steele

    Micheal Crichton and Robin Cook medical mysteries…sae injustice

    stick to the book

    Absolute power? The juror? THE BOOK always wins

    You are right on the John Grisham movies especially the firm it sucked. Da vinci code movie was definately very poor compared to the book.
    I remember the Thorn Birds – very captivating series but never got round to reading the book or any Barbara Taylor Bradfords for that matter.

  18. It is all totally very open and intensely clear explanation of issues. was truly information. Your site is handy. Thank you for sharing.

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