Had a short discussion about this with a friend the other day, figured I’d share the point here.
I recently watched a movie after reading the corresponding book. It was a strange experience, to say the least. A lot of important points were left out, probably for the sake of brevity. They very swiftly cut to the chase and stuffed it all full of the action scenes that are so important to a movie. Probably for brevity too, since they had to shove and entire book’s worth of content into an hour and a half of video footage. The end result was a plot that felt rushed through and characters with way less depth.
But isn’t that inherent to moving a work from paper to the screen? I’ve talked a couple times before about how different media (like the written word, film, games or the internet) have distinct advantages and disadvantages in the way they allow you to represent things. This leads to books (generally) being more focussed on the characters, their thoughts and development, whereas films will frequently prefer impressive action scenes and a higher pacing.
When translating a work to another medium, of course you’ll have to take all that into account. It’s really hard to have a very introspective (character-wise) feel to a film while still keeping it interesting to watch and not a thousand hours long. In practice, this means changing the work to fit the new medium is often the best choice. These changes may involve removing parts that were used with great significance on another medium, resulting in a rather large gap (in quality, feel, or something else) between the two “versions”.
There’s the whole point of some stories just not working well for certain media, too.