It’s a well-known scientific fact* that the book is always better than the film version of a story. Seriously, try to name me an example where a film surpasses a book – there just isn’t one.
It’s all to do with the power of your imagination.
I remember the first time I read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory as a child. The impossibly fantastic sugary creations that came out of Willy Wonka’s incredible mind where just that – impossible. In my head though, it was all infinitely plausible, my imagination had no boundaries. “Violet! You’re turning violet, Violet!” I could really taste that gum in my mind – the hot tomato soup, the succulent roast beef, the not quite perfected dessert…
When you translate a book to film though, the very act of putting the story onto a screen, of turning the imagined images into real pictures, imposes real-world limits on what you can create. Suddenly you can only produce images that have a grounding in reality, that are physically possible to capture on film. I know these days we can do amazing things with animation but really, it’s just not the same is it?
So what about theatre? Surely the same limitations apply, but how does a book or a script compare when it is performed live by real people? Things like Shakespeare of course come to life on stage, but that’s because they were written to be performed. But what about book adaptations?
We’re going this weekend to The Bristol Hippodrome, to see an adaptation of George’s Marvellous Medicine, so it’s hopefully a question I will be able to answer soon. There is a particular magic involved in theatre, the bringing to live of a story in front of your eyes, that isn’t the same as what you get from film, but will the stage be able to do justice to the wild imagination of Roald Dahl?
I will let you know…
*in the loosest, non-scientific terms