I went to see The Help last night. I found myself comparing the film to the book, which I finished a few weeks ago. Maybe I analysed the differences between the two because I write. The plot was more or less the same as in the book but the subplots weren't given much time.
Why is a film different from a book? A writer can tell you what a character is thinking. A director needs to show what a character is thinking through dialogue, actions and reactions (unless a narrator is used. This was done in The Help with the character, Aibileen).
Why do I feel disappointed after seeing the film? Here is my theory. When we read a book that we enjoy, we picture the characters and the settings. If this picture is different in the film from the one we created in our minds, we're left feeling dissatisfied. Another reason is that we already know what is going to happen. I certainly felt less emotional than others in the cinema because I wasn't being surprised.
When I thought about other favourite books which have been made into films, I realised that I haven't seen Captain Corelli's Mandolin or Memoirs of a Geisha. I saw The Time Traveler's Wife before reading the book. This was worthwhile because I think it made the book easier to follow. I saw Chocolat several years after I read the book and liked it. I expect that this was partly because Johnny Depp was in it. Also I'd forgotten the details from the book so I wasn't making comparisons.
I've come to the conclusion that if we see the film before we read the book or a few years afterwards, we're more likely to enjoy it.
The film adaption of Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell will be released next year. It's a while since I read the book, which I thought was wonderful, so maybe I'll go and see it.
I'd be interested to know whether you've enjoyed a film as much as the book (when reading the book first) or do you agree with the above?