Gregg Nunney: Films or books – which are best?

Gregg says you can't compare the book and film versions of The Shining
Gregg says you can't compare the book and film versions of The Shining
Share this article

It really annoys me when people say “the film isn’t as good as the book”.

I don’t know how you can even go about comparing the two things.

Surely the book is what you decide it is.

When you pick up a novel for the first time and carefully turn the pages (or press the forward button on your e-reader, of course) you create the characters and landscapes inside your head.

No amount of descriptive language from an author can hamper your imagination.

When I read a book the way a character looks, the way they speak and their mannerisms are all invented by me.

When you watch a film you’re watching somebody else’s interpretation of that book – they, just like you, have imagined the elements of the story in a particular way, it just happens that Hollywood have paid them millions of dollars to realise their ideas on the screen.

Books and films should be treated as two separate entities.

I love The Shining by Stephen King. I also love The Shining by Stanley Kubrick.

I think, however, that they are completely different stories.

They both have characters with the same names and the same setting but the personalities and motivations are different.

King and Kubrick famously fell out over the adaptation, but I rate Jack Nicholson’s performance as one of his best.

Very rarely does a film adaptation ever look exactly as you imagine when you are reading the book.

I think the Hunger Games films have, but that’s arguably down to the writer of the novels, Suzanne Collins, being heavily involved from the start.

I’m just back from seeing the second Hobbit movie.

Three long movies from one short novel – but, as always, I was totally captivated and happily lived in Peter Jackson’s Middle Earth world for two and a half hours.

The whole point of fiction is escapism – and I’m always up for that, whether it’s on the page or on the screen.