Movie to book? Worth a look?

As always,  over the summer break in Australia, there is a flurry of movies released to the cinemas. At the same time, there is often a hive of activity to publish (or re-publish with a movie-jacket), the associated books. This summer was no exception – though this activity included at least 2 books which were written from the movie – Paper Planes and the Water Diviner.

paper-planesThe magic of what happens in Paper Planes is well suited to a movie format. The struggles of Dylan with his father’s depressed state, alongside bullying issues at school and further afield, are clearly recognisable in the early stages of the movie.

Scenes shot in slow motion capture the drama of what is happening and of course background music enhances the flights taken. Particularly engaging is the scene where Dylan’s grandfather fires up his imagination with a flight in a vintage plane in an Aviation museum. It certainly captured the imagination of the 6 year-old I took to see it.

The book itself lacks a bit of depth – I didn’t feel the same anticipation of what was to happen, nor imagine as vividly the action taking place. The addition of photos from the movie, within the book, and instructions for making paper planes at the end, were a bonus – and certainly inspired my 6 year old companion before we saw the movie. From the photos and the movie trailer we had seen previously, he could already identify some of the themes and characters – “He’s the bully… She does lots of backflips and somersaults… He gets pushed down the stairs.”

Certainly the story has value with great themes of resilience, friendship and the value of imagination- whether consumed as a book or a movie.* (Further review to come.)

the-water-divinerOn the other hand, having just finished the Water Diviner, I am really keen to now see the movie. Andrew and Meaghan Anastasios have developed rich characters and locations in the Water Diviner, and help you see both sides of the story of our historical Anzac tragedy.

You can truly imagine the rough-tough-but-sensitive Connor in his quest to find out the fate of his three sons. Details about the battle fields, life after war in the invaded country and reflections on family life from differing cultural perspectives develop throughout the story.

Thus, the Water Diviner provides the perspective of loss from point of view of the Turkish people. Contrasts and similarities abound in this tale, there is much to ponder about the impact of war.  (Further review to come.)


Anyone who has read this blog before would know that I am an advocate for read-the-book-then see-the-movie. And my bias is often towards the richness of what the book has to offer over the movie. However, I have also agreed in the past with comments from authors who point to the fact that we can appreciate both mediums equally – that it is often unfair to judge them on their differences:

I can only respect what a screenwriter has to do when trimming a sizeable novel to a 120-page script.

I feel like when you give someone a creative job, you can’t say, “Right, be creative, but do it how I want you to do it.”

Source: Marcus Zusak – How I Let Go of the Book Thief,


A film is a film is a film.

[On the other hand] Readers [bring a] box of effects and nuances to colour in the spaces left by the writer [of a book].

In film, the magic tends to be woven on the surface. The viewer is treated to another’s dream. In literature, the reader does the dreaming. And that, for me, remains the greatest magic of all.

Source: The Weight of Expectations for Lloyd Jones,


So now it is over to you to judge – which way are you going to find a story? Will you always “read the book, then see the movie”? or does a movie sometimes inspire you to go back to discover the delicacies and intricacies of the book? 

* I do have one alteration that I would make to Paper Planes, and that is that I would at least infer that he had adult company to and within Japan – perhaps with Maureen?


Less or More? Flying books?

Some time last year, I downloaded from iTunes the movie, The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore – a short movie which soon after won an academy award for Best Animated Short Film. It left me entranced as I viewed it on my iPad, with echoes of the Wizard of Oz as it began to play.

Since then, the tale has captured the hearts of many booklovers. It tells the story of a young man, Morris Lessmore, who gives his life to building up the promotion of books and reading.

The movie uses different creative techniques, such as including scenes reminiscent of old black and white movies and then colouring people’s lives when they delve into books, either reading or writing them. Passing on the love of reading to future generations is also alluded to when, at the end of the movie, Morris’s book passes on to a young girl who appears on the scene after he leaves.

In a funny twist, the book form of the The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore has only just been released. However, the tale behind its creation is as interesting as the tale itself.

Joyce has been working on it since 1999, with several major interruptions (including Hurricane Katrina and personal health issues). This is a book that really needs to read from cover to cover, including the back fly-leaf, which gives more detail about his writing journey. It is interesting to note:

    1. William Morris, Joyce’s mentor, was a pioneer of library promotion. The book is a tribute to him.
    2. Silent film actors – such as Buster Keaton, are reflected in the character of Morris Lessmore.
    3. The tornado scene from the film, Wizard of Oz, and Hurricane Katrina also make an impact in the story.

The idea for the book preceded the film, but The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore has only just been released in book form this year. But it was well worth the wait! The book and film make great companions!

Here’s a link to the movie trailer: