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Freshmen staff reporters Claire Doyle and Oona Seppala face off about which is better: the book “Wonder” or its film adaptation.

Movie vs. Book

April 28, 2023

Watch the movie

I would much rather watch the action in a movie than scale the mountains of my mind trying to image what the characters in a story looks like.

When I’m compelled to sit down, relax and get a taste of my favorite character’s life, I don’t want to be plagued with what I have been doing all day at school: reading.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand the value of a good book, the intellectual benefits and the aesthetics of pulling out a hard copy, but a book just can’t reach the dramatic twists and tear-jerking moments that a movie can.

Without the crisp audio that fills a theater, do we actually know the voices of our favorite characters? Without the hyper-detailed pixels that AMC has perfected, do we actually know the shade of the antagonist’s hair color?

Books and movies can be as deep or as shallow as the consumer wants them to be. Books give long monologues of the character’s past, while movies fill the screen with Easter eggs and symbolic items that the viewer needs to find to get the full picture.

Books give detailed descriptions, but a movie can use sound and visuals to portray this. No adjective or description of the world can truly beat the movie-watching experience.

The movie “Wonder”  is a perfect example. On the first day of real school, Auggie Pullman is nervous, and his dad talks to him about the two rules he should follow: don’t raise your hand more than once in class, and you’re not alone even if you feel you are. If I read through this exchange instead of watching it, I wouldn’t have noticed the melancholy tone of the scene or the noisiness of the children around them.

This is not to say that books hold no weight in our modern world. In fact, books are archives of our past — but so are movies. Movies are a history of the development of technology, sound equipment and culture. If you don’t know a language you can’t read that book, but if you can sit down and watch the mannerisms and facial expressions of actors not in your native language, you still have something to gain from it.

So, if you choose the book, all power to you. But by picking a movie, the life that was once a fantasy in a novel is a reality on a screen.

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Read the book

When I was growing up, there was a rule in my house: you had to read the book before you watched the movie. Doing this, I became engulfed in the descriptions of the settings, and I found myself giggling at the slightest comment made by my favorite character. I almost always prefer the imagery and descriptions in a book to a movie. Reading the book gives one the freedom to envision the universe of the text. You can create an escape, cracking open the unread, yellow pages and find a new world.

I loved imagining the castles in “Harry Potter” when I was 11, and I still love it today. I love painting mental pictures with the metaphors and imagery in the text. I feel more connected to the story and the characters while reading than I do while watching a movie. As I’ve gotten older, I have become more appreciative of the beauty in writing through paying attention to each intentional word choice, and when it comes to my preference of the book or the movie, I consistently choose the book.

A book-movie duo I particularly enjoyed was  “Wonder” by R. J. Palacio. Both the book and the movie did an incredible job communicating the highs and lows of Auggie Pullman’s middle school experience. What set the book a part from the movie was the multiple perspectives in the novel. Each character has their own section of “Wonder,” where readers use their eyes as a lens to navigate the story.

This stylistic choice brought the story to life, and it wasn’t available in the movie. I felt a deeper connection to each character. I had more empathy for Auggie and his friends, and the overall themes and messages were conveyed in a way that touched me on a deeper level.

I completely understand the appeal of choosing the movie of a book-movie duo. The drama is more dramatic, the emotions can seem more intense and plot lines can definitely seem clearer. I also understand that after a long day of reading at school, one might be more inclined to choose a move over a book. All of these are fair points. I believe that there are differences and similarities between reading for school and for pleasure, but for me, there is nothing that compares to settling down with a good book at the end of the day. Nothing can compare to looking at the world through the perspective of the characters. In movies, I feel like I am on the sidelines. In books, I feel like I am a part of that world.

I’ve always felt more connected to the text as apposed to the visuals so if you’re asking me, I say, read the book!

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