Book or movie: Is one always better?

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Story by Ellie Youngs, News Editor

It is a constant argument amongst fandoms about whether a particular movie adaptation is better than its hardcover inspiration, or the other way around. What constitutes if the book is better? What are the criteria that the book or the show must meet in order to be considered the “elite” of the two? Or, better yet, does there have to be an “elite”? What if one were to read the book or watch the show for different purposes and not for the sole purpose of determining one to be better than the other?

There is one example in particular in which this question holds significant weight: “The Haunting of Hill House.” Shirley Jackson wrote this novel in 1959, and in 2018, a mini drama series came out with the same title. Although the mini drama series and the book share the same title, and one is loosely based on the other, they still have great differences; therefore, a direct comparison is not very productive. 

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Timing is essential when considering the message behind the book and the television series. With the book being written in 1959, the implications of Eleanor Vance’s mental state are extremely important. One thing that makes this book such an interesting read is the way Jackson is able to dive into the psychology of each character and how each character serves a different purpose in Hill House. While the book is definitely eerie, it is not nearly as unsettling and jarring as the T.V. series portrayal. 

Once again tapping into the timing aspect of this argument, it is more clear why the show is as terrifying as it is. The show definitely puts more emphasis on the horrors that lie within Hill House than anything else. Although there are definitely great aspects of character development in the show, it is not the main purpose of the show. The special effects and the differing plotline better serve the audience of viewers watching the show in 2018, as opposed to the readers of 1959. The development of special effects have desensitized people over the years, so it makes sense that the show is significantly more horrifying than the book. It is not necessary to deem one form of this story to be “better” than the other. Perhaps, they just serve different purposes for different audiences.

Categories: Opinion, The Saint