A lot of you have probably declared me a "fool of a took" after reading the title, and to be honest I was quite surprised myself that I felt this way.
"The books are always better"
If I had a dime for every time I've heard that phrase, I'd be able to fund the second attempt at adapting Eragon for the big screen and hopefully make a lot of people very happy, but that's a discussion for another day. I've read all the Harry Potter and Hunger Games books - and while I enjoyed the movies for what they were, the books were undoubtedly better. I haven't read A Song of Ice and Fire yet, but my friends that have claim that it is superior to its television counterpart (the phenomenal Game of Thrones). I think its come to be a universally accepted notion that the books are always simply better.
After watching all three Lord of the Ring's movies multiple times, I decided it was time to add one of the most acclaimed and appreciated trilogies of all time to my reading list. Once again, I'd heard the common "the movies are great, but the books are even better" argument from a lot of people and was quite excited.
However, after having read through all of them and having a few weeks to reflect on them, I can confidently say that in my opinion - the books are great, but the movies are better. Please keep in mind that in no way do I intend to degrade the books or deny the fact that they're among the best in existence, I'm just attempting to justify why I enjoyed the movies more.
The extended editions of the Lord of the Rings movies cumulatively run around twelve hours. Yet, every hour is engaging and satisfying and constantly moves the story forward, never seeming stretched or testing the viewers' patience. However, in written format, I found that this was not always the case. Yes, there were exciting chapters but they were matched by portions that literally seemed like a chore to get through. I do appreciate that the slow portions serve towards character development and world building, but at times they simply ran too long for my liking and too often I wanted the book to just move on. Whenever I re-watch the movies, I watch them whole start to finish. However, if I ever reread the books there'll be certain chapters/portions that I'll likely just skim through or skip all together.
The plot structure and flow of The Fellowship of the Ring are almost identical in the book and movie. However, for The Two Towers and The Return of the King - the plot structure and flow were altered for the better in the movies. In the books, the first half is dedicated to moving forward the story of Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, Gandalf, Merry and Pippin. The book goes through their complete arcs, and then the second half is in entirety the story of Gollum, Sam, Frodo and their quest to Mount Doom. However, in the movies - instead of adapting this approach, the plot for all these characters progresses simultaneously. This, in my opinion, works much better since its ideal to build up tension and suspense and keeps you invested in everyone's arc throughout. It also gives better perspective to which events occur in the different plot lines at similar times.
The Visual Aspect
A lot of the appeal of the Lord of the Ring's lies in middle earth and the incredibly detailed world that has been created. As a tale, I think its one that just works better in the visual medium because there's so much for your eyes to feast on. The books do a commendable job of establishing the setting with incredibly detailed descriptions, but at times these get tedious. Its a lot easier to appreciate the majesty of Rivendell when its right there in front of you, as opposed to trying your best to imagine it through a page long description. Also, a lot of the story is battle scenes, and these simply work better in the movies. I felt the movies managed to build up more tension and excitement in these sequences than the books did.
The books are marvellous pieces of literature that have greatly contributed to and influence all we know and love today of magic and fantasy, that is a fact. There were definitely things that the books did better than the movies too. But as someone who read them for the first time after watching and loving the movies, I must be honest and say I enjoyed Peter Jackson's version of this epic more.
If you haven't already seen this - please do. Any fan absolutely must enjoy it.
What do you think? I'd love to know which medium you better appreciated this magnificent tale in and whether you agree/disagree with the points I mentioned. Let me know in the poll and comments below!