Book or Film?

My eldest boy recently had a school project to analyse the differences between a book and the film of that book. Often these are considerable. Sometimes only the title of the book remains, leaving fans unhappy but potentially attracting viewers unfamiliar with the original. This can grant a longevity to outdated works. The original James Bond novels would not now be accepted for publication with their views on race and gender being entirely unsuitable for a modern audience. Yet the Bond movie franchise continues.

As a child I read the novelizations of Doctor Who before I saw the episodes. Excitement changed to disappointment with well-drawn characters being static and uninspiring and imaginatively depicted landscapes created on a shoestring budget in a BBC cupboard. The writers of the books made a conscious effort to improve on the screen version. Screenwriters make the same effort, but can they accurately capture the voice of the author? In most cases I would suggest not.

I read each of the twelve James Bond novels by Ian Fleming every two or three years. Of the twenty-five James Bond films there are only two or three that merit repeated viewing.

Paul Williams is a writer of fiction and non-fiction best known for his Jack the Ripper Suspects: The Definitive Guide and Encyclopedia.

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