Movie Review

Adapting Books: Silence and A Monster Calls

A good way to tick off a reader: Find out their favorite book and tell them that the movie was better.

This is a subject that gets many readers heated up, as they feel the need to defend books against movies. If you go on Pinterest, there are hundreds of memes that all have the same central message: ‘The book was better’ or ‘never judge a book by its movie’. (Ok, maybe not hundreds, but it sure feels like it.)

But guess what? Sometimes one IS better than the other, or they are both perfectly fine. I just don’t think anyone can make a blanket statement that books are always going to be better or superior to their movies.

This weekend I saw two movies that I have recently read, and I was excited to see the on-screen interpretation for both. Personally, I don’t think books and movies are at war with each other because the purpose and focus of each is different. They are both equally valid mediums to explore art.

Books can expound on details, explore the depths of humanity, and generally cover more material than a movie can. Which is fine, films should be narrower in focus.

I never understood why people complain about little details/scenes not showing up in the movie. The joy of a book is you get those details that would make a movie drag on, and a movie shouldn’t be a carbon copy of a book anyway (although that’s a whole other topic).

Unless you are an 8-part BBC mini-series. 🙂

I wanted to talk about this because as I move forward with reviewing movies, I want my readers to know where I stand. I love both, and am not going into this with a strong preference either way.

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Silence

Speaking of close adaptations, Martin Scorsese’s Silence truly blew me away. A great balance of story and art, some scenes felt like living paintings.

In my book review for Silence, I advise that the book probably wasn’t going to be for everyone, and I think the same can be said for the movie. The basic premise centers around two priests going into 1640’s Japan, where Christianity was outlawed, to try and find their teacher, who was rumored to have denounced the faith.  

There are a few scenes that depict different ways the Japanese government tortured Christians at the time, and they are really hard to stomach. With that being said, I never felt like it was ‘too much’. Every step made sense for our protagonist’s journey.

Because Scorsese wanted to make a straight adaptation, I think the problems I had with the book were also present in the movie. I know I’m about to tick off some movie nerds, but I think 10-20 minutes could have been cut and nothing would have been lost.

For most of the two hours and forty minutes I was engaged, but there were a couple moments where I was starting to drift. Thankfully not for long! But that fact makes it hard to 100% recommend.

I will say that I was so happy to get a strong religious movie, since I haven’t seen one since Calvary. The last three years I’ve seen the rise of shitty Pure Flix movies, where they’re either hollow garbage at best or dangerous propaganda at worst, and I was happy to support a movie that is the complete opposite.

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A Monster Calls

As my readers know, A Monster Calls was one of my favorite reads of 2016, and I was crushed when the movie was pushed back from October.

I finally saw the movie, and I was super pleased with the results. Just like the book, I thought the build up of the story was great, and by end I was a puddle of tears.

In the book, the Monster tells Conor, a boy who he is helping through a difficult time, three different stories. For two of the stories the movie used animation, and it was beautiful. I was actually upset no animation was used for the third, but I understand that it wouldn’t fit.

The only part that was muddled for me was the second storyline at school. With Conor’s friend being dropped from the book, the movie probably could’ve dropped that whole storyline and focused more on his relationship with his family.

I think they had to keep the school bullying story because the Monster’s third story connects with that plot. I just wish the movie either developed that story better or dropped it completely.

Other than that, I really loved this movie and I plan on watching it again.

Scores:

Silence   B+

A Monster Calls   B+

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