Books Vs Films: Terry Pratchett (Part 1)

By Luke Farnish

Three of Pratchett’s works have now been adapted for straight to TV films by production company ‘The Mob’ for Sky. These are Hogfather (2006), The Colour of Magic (2008) and Going Postal (2010).

The Colour of Magic (and the Light Fantastic)

The first two of Sir Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books were combined into a single film, unsurprisingly for fans, as they cover a single plot. The story covers the misadventures of Rincewind, a wizard who can’t perform magic due to an ancient spell stuck in his head, and Twoflower, the Discworld’s first tourist. This story was my first view of the Discworld, but it was not in either the book form or the film version. I first read this story in its graphic novel form, illustrated by Steven Ross, adapted by Scott Rockwell. I can, therefore, compare all three formats.

The first important point to make is that none of the versions change anything  particularly drastic from each other. A few more difficult to illustrate sections, and some minor details, had to be lost for the adaptation from novel to graphic novel, and the film version misses out some of the scenes altogether, but the main story remains the same throughout.  Again, this makes a comparison between formats easier

Each version has something going for it. The film version (like all of The Mob’s work) has a number of stars including David Jason as Rincewind, Sean Astin as Twoflower, Tim Curry, Christopher Lee and Jeremy Irons, to name some and some impressive visuals for a low budget film. The book though has far more detail and can take you right to the limit of what can be imagined, to places that simply would not work on a screen. The graphic novel is a wonderful mixture of the two, having both the fantastical quality of the book, but giving visual prompts as well.

To rank formats is no easy task and I would refer to the above for what you would want from a story. I would, however, say this. If you are new to Pratchett, start here. The Discworld books are designed so they can be read in almost any order, but this really is a good place to start. Equally, if you are interested in graphic novels, I highly recommend this one as it is an excellent example of the genre.

But, as for ranking the three formats, I would place the book first, followed by the film version and then the Graphic novel. This is not to say any are particularly inferior, all of these versions of the story are wonderful in their own right and I highly recommend them. Nonetheless, in this case, books are (marginally) better.

Image “Some Terry Pratchett Books” by Bargainmoose licensed under CC BY 2.0

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