Reading Across Mediums: Scott Pilgrim, Harry Potter, Twilight, and Katy Konservativ (who does not yet have her own book or film series…)

I love books and I love movies.  In fact, I’d say that I love movies more than books, because I have a very visual brain and I enjoy being able to analyse a story and characters in a visual format.  I also like that most films are relatively short compared to a book.  I would guess that for every hour of movie, I spend two or three hours of reading the same material.  Finally, television series and mini-series are chopped up into convenient time-lengths so as to present a longer story.  (Ideally, I think I prefer mini-series the best, especially one’s with feature-film-level production budgets.)  Being a visual person, I might have loved graphic novels, but I find that they take away my freedom to visualise the story without giving me the benefit of music, dialogue, movement, etc.  Overall, I like all three mediums, just differently.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is a fun movie, but I couldn’t get into the book series.  I did not like the story that much, and the only reason that I tried reading it was because I
wanted to gain a wider insight into the various mediums for this class.  I can see how this series appeals to people who enjoy stories about heroes, and I liked the movie’s
comic-book feel.  The story felt so unbelievable, however, that after two hours, I had had quite enough.  I despised all of the characters and could not relate to them.  Even the fact that it is set in Canada was incidental to me.  It could have been set elsewhere and been just as fun.

This brings me to what I really like about stories: characters and plot.  Regardless of whether or not I am watching a film, reading a book (of any type), watching television, or attending live theatre, I want intriguing characters who are sympathetic and somewhat relatable, and I want a plot that somewhat makes sense (even if only in hindsight).  I don’t know if it is an age thing, because I was similar as a teen.  I also think that from reading a lot of teen fanfiction and seeing what is marketed to teens in stores, I think that teenagers really want relatable characters too.  Even if they are in a fantastical setting, we as readers or an audience have to be able to somewhat understand their motivations.

J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series started out as a book for older children, fitting with protagonists being eleven, but soon spawned a film series and a vast merchandising

empire.  There are all kinds of reasons as to why they are popular (compared with the dozens of other children’s book-to-film projects that sprung up after Harry Potter’s
success): the story is a universal plotline that we can all somewhat identify with, the characters grow up realistically, the book series grows with readers and its protagonists,
and the film series does likewise.  Without these elements, I doubt that the Harry Potter franchise would have been so successful.  Great writing and great filmmaking can only
do so much.  I got into the books after watching the first two films, and have enjoyed both series immensely.  I don’t think being a fan of the books is necessary for enjoying
the films, as I know many people who have only seen the films and enjoyed them.  However, I do think that by being as true to the books as these films have, they have made a series that feels less commercialized.  I may be biased, but the Harry Potter films do not feel like spectacles, even when I think they are meant to be!  I think they convey the same story in a different medium.  The books have more humour and subtlety than the films, but books can have that.  Subtlety in film is very hard to convey!

I brought up Harry Potter because I had the opposite reaction to the Twilight series.  Stephanie Meyer’s vampire romance is a great saga and an enjoyable story, but it lacks a sense of fun.  I found it to be too melodramatic, and then the fourth book got downright icky.  Meanwhile, I have not yet watched the films and have little desire to do so.  I don’t think they are bad films, but I don’t think that I would enjoy them.  I think that Meyer handles interesting themes and I condone a lot of them — waiting to have sex after marriage being one — but I think that they were poorly executed in the series.  Do I think that I could have done it better?  No, not necessarily.  She painted herself into a corner with her characters, and her story stayed relatively consistent.  From what I have seen of the films, they are well done, but still melodramatic.  My main problem with the Twilight series is that it has spawned a whole slough of vampire books for teens, which is slightly nauseating.  Some of the themes in the other vampire novels are very mature.

Overall, I think that young adults should be encouraged to read books and watch films.  I like when libraries have programs that integrate the films with books and encouraging teens to compare the two.  Not only are we are promoting literacy, but we are also promoting critical thinking.  We are letting young people explore how films are created to tell a story, and how that is different than a book.  Comparing graphic novels can also be useful — what is different about a graphic novel as compared with a film, or with a novel?  How doew the graphic novel of Twilight compare with the film?  What about with the book?  It is important for young adults to be able to discern these for themselves.  How would they tell the story differently?  Would they have written a scene differently?  What did they like about changes made between the book and movie?  Did they think that the actors were well chosen?  Who would they have cast instead?

Through films of popular books, people who have trouble reading are able to appreciate popular culture stories.  Sitting through a three-hour-long movie is usually preferable to slogging through a 800-page book if you have to do one or the other.

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