I sometimes find that watching a film adaptation of a book helps me to understand the plot of a book. This is especially true for books from a different period or with a difficult dialect. My favourite examples of these include Pride and Prejudice, which is also my favourite book, and Trainspotting, which is written in Scottish dialect.
Film and TV adaptations of books also mean that books reach a wider audience, prompting people to read the book if they really liked the film. In terms of language learning, watching film or TV adaptations of books can help to provide an understanding of a story that may have otherwise been inaccessible. They also help to give a story a more modern twist, for example Oliver! as an adaptation of Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist. The language in the book can be enough to reduce a native speaker to tears, never mind someone who is learning English, but the adaptation means that everyone can enjoy the story of the orphan Oliver. Similarly, the 1996 film Romeo and Juliet, an adaptation of the Shakespeare play of the same name, enables those of us who haven’t studied Shakespeare to still enjoy his play in a more engaging and understandable way.
Of course, there are limitations and not every story that is translated onto the screen is liked by the many fans of the original book, or even the author. For example, the author of the book Mary Poppins, P. L. Travers, hated Disney’s adaptation, but it’s now a well-loved work. One of my least favourite adaptations is that of Still Alice by Lisa Genova. They changed the location from Boston to New York for no real reason, which for some readers changes the whole feel of the book.
In my opinion, adaptations are a great way to introduce yourself to the story and characters of a particular book before reading it. But they’re also a good way for people who may not feel confident enough to read a whole novel in a different language, but still want to get to grips with a specific story.
What are your favourite and least favourite film or TV adaptations? Have you heard of any of the adaptations that Mercedes mentions?