The book is always better than the movie – and there’s a reason for that. Books are not constrained by CGI and studio budgets, filming location, or logistics. In YA there’s often an additional constraint: protagonist point of view. Most YA these days is told in first person, or at the very least with the protagonist’s point of view as its mainstay – and that means if it happens outside that point of view, we don’t see it in the book.
All of these things influence the movie, and the way the movie is written, cast and shot. Sometimes every effort is made to be true to the original work, and sometimes, it’s just not possible without major alteration. A key example of this is the Twilight series and its final culminating battle. Since it takes place almost entirely inside Bella’s mind (with almost no action other than her mind battling other minds), it would be dead boring on screen to watch. I think they handled this brilliantly in the movie (I won’t spoil it if you’ve never seen it) but of course, it drastically changed the movie from the book.
Today, I want to talk about things that were “lost in translation” that in my opinion, should have been kept in.
My top pick would be Neville visiting his parents at St. Mungo’s hospital in the Harry Potter series. And don’t even get me started about Peeves!
Another prime offender for me was The Hunger Games: Mockingjay. The scenes with Johanna and Katniss were pared down to nothing for the movie, and the loss of the scene after Johanna’s breakdown, where Katniss brings her the pine needles…oh that was such a wonderful scene. And the character of Johanna was so compelling, so broken – she and Katniss were kindred souls in so many ways. All of that should have been in the movie.
What about you? What scenes should have made it from your favorite books into the movies?