The other day, I was rereading one of my favorite novels (Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones) in an attempt to get out of a reading slump. I still love the story, and while I was reading it, it got me thinking about the perks of watching the movie or tv show and reading the book. All versions have something to offer, because it could mean seeing the story from slightly or drastically different ways (and I admit that it’s always nice to see a group of favorite characters come to life). It’s the differences that make the effort of finding all the adaptations worth it.
We used to occasionally do something like that as a feature on the blog called Movie-Book-Or-Both; although, the focus was on whether or not we liked the book as much as the movie or vice-versa, and less to do with the details that got lost in the adaptation process. In April of 2015, I first talked about Howl’s Moving Castle for that feature. And upon my reread of the book 4 years later, I found that I appreciated the story a whole lot more than I originally did.
I don’t need to explain Ghibli films. They’re well-known for their storytelling, gorgeous animation (in particular the scenery, character design, and the food). The films are memorable, and the characters are endearing. Howl’s Moving Castle is one of the first Ghibli films I ever watched as a kid (the very first was Spirited Away), and the adaptation captures the feel of the story as well as much of the plot. But, there are some differences. For instance, in the movie version of Howl’s Moving Castle, some characters underwent changes. Such as Michael Fisher, Howl’s 15 year old apprentice in the book, being a child named Markl in the movie instead. Then there’s Sophie’s other younger sister, Martha, who wasn’t included at all. The sisters' story is one of my favorite aspects of the book, and if I hadn’t gone beyond the movie, I would have never known I was missing anything to begin with. The changes aren’t bad, because they worked for the movie.
Another instance I can think of, just off the top of my head, is Ready Player One. I enjoyed the book, but the changes made to the narrative made for a great movie. I talked about this when I reviewed the movie HERE. Some of the things I said on that post can also be applied to my thoughts about Howl’s Moving Castle. Actually, it could likely be applied to most instances concerning this subject. However, I also have to look at the other side of this too, because I do acknowledge that some adaptations just aren’t as good as they could have been. In those cases, the changes—if there were any—and other factors, unfortunately worked against the story in whatever way.
Of course, what makes a good adaptation and a bad one is all subjective. What I like, someone else might absolutely hate. And you know what? That’s perfectly fine.
So, I haven’t always been good about reading the book to go along with those adaptations. However, the ones I have gotten around to have mostly turned out to be great reads. Have you read Howl’s Moving Castle or seen the movie? If so, what did you like about it?