The Instigator
Pro (for)
4 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
2 Points

Film adaptations of books should be rated as individual works and not as adaptations.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/26/2010 Category: Arts
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 2,191 times Debate No: 13484
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (7)
Votes (1)





I hold that films adapted from literary works, such as the "Harry Potter" series and "The DaVinci Code", should be reviewed as individual works and not as how closely the adaptation followed the original work.

In layman's terms, a movie should not be solely judged as good or bad if it does not closely follow the work it is suppose to represent. Examples of a "bad" adaptation include, but are not limited to, changing the plot, adding or deleting characters, names, or terms used etc...

For this debate, only movies that hold an exclusive license to produce an adaptation to a literary work will be permitted. Literary works appearing or being mentioned in a film which is not an adaptation of said works will not be considered.

The terms "film(s)" and "movie(s)" are interchangeable.
For the sake of efficiency, all literary works (poems, novels, songs, etc...) can be summed up using the term "books".

To lay a framework for future arguments, I hold that:

1) Movies are an individual's (director) creative interpretation of a script. This script can be a literary work such as a novel or poem, or it can be an actual script, produced for a movie.

2) Film and written works are all subject to the interpretation of the imagination. To say a movie is not closely following a book could just be a difference in ones imagination to another's, all of which is highly subjective. So, it is to say that reviewers of adaptations are sometimes prone to subjectivity.

3) Even though a film may not capture the tone or feeling of a book, it does not mean it will not be a good movie. Some may contend otherwise.

I thank whoever accepts this debate and I await your opening arguments.


I thank my opponent for starting this debate and look forward to an interesting debate. I will use my first speech to define terms, set a framework, present my contentions, and provide refutations.


Adaptation: As defined by Princeton, an adaptation is "a written work (as a novel) that has been recast in a new form"[1]. Under the context of today's debate, the "new form" will be films.

Individual Works: A film that has been completely concocted in the mind of the director. This could also be called an original work. An example would be the movie Avatar, which was completely though of by George Lucas, and not adapted from a written work.


All movies that are adapted from a written work are registered as movies that are adapted. This is clear because lists of adapted films can be found anywhere on the internet (if my opponent disagrees with me on this point than I can site some websites). Because of this, the director of the adapted film is accepting that the film will be based off of the written work. By definition an adaptation is not the original work of an individual, and thus, they cannot be rated as if it were an individual work. The affirmative in today's debate has the burden of proof of proving that an adaptation is the original work of the director, and is not based off of a written work, because only then can adaptations be rated as individual works. My opponent also has to prove that there is a benefit by rating an adaptation as if it were an individual work. Unless he can prove this, there is no reason to vote affirmative, and thus, you must vote negative.


Contention 1: It is morally incorrect to rate an adaption as an individual work.

An adaption is in no way an original work and thus, by rating the film as if it were an individual work would be morally wrong to do. By doing this, critics do not give credit to the author that originally made the film. If people were to rate movies as individual works, they would be detracting from the original author, and this is simply immoral.

Contention 2: It is impossible to rate an adaptation as an individual work.

People will never truly be able to rate a movie as if the book it was based off had never existed. This is simply impossible because it is human nature for people to compare things, especially when the two things are similar. A person that reads the book "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" will be humanely incapable of not comparing the events that occurred in the movie to the events that occurred in the novel. Because of this fact of life, the idea that my opponent is advocating can never exist, and thus you must vote negative.

Contention 3: There are no benefits of rating an adaptation as if it were an individual work.

Simply put, nothing is gained by doing what the affirmative wants. All that will happen is that conflicts will arouse. People that believe that the movie is actually not accurate to the original novel will be aggravated by the fact that critics are giving the movie a high rating.


1. My opponent makes the argument that because directors already make films off of scripts and claim these as original works, it is ok to do the same with written works. This could not be further from the truth for a reason that my opponent actually outlines in his case. He says that the scripts are "produced for a movie." This means that the scripts are not written works that were not made for a movie, but rather, these scripts are works made solely for the purpose of creating a movie. Because of this, my opponent's argument is invalid. Also, when a film is based off of a script, the scriptwriter receives credit for writing the script. If adaptations were to be looked at as individual works, the author of the original work would not be credited for coming up with the great movie, making it very immoral and unfair.

For these reasons I strongly urge a negative vote on today's resolution.

Debate Round No. 1


Thanks for accepting my debate, Con.

==Pro Counters==

1) Con is wrong in saying a film adaptation is not an original work. May I present the notion that originality has more to do with the presentation of ideas rather than the actual ideas themselves. I hold that there are a set number of ideas that human beings can comprehend, and it is the presentation of said ideas that make it original. I may even go so far to say that since art is basically the impersonation of nature, originality has to solely lie with presentation.

a)Critics are not rating the original author's work, if they anted to to that they should of read his original book. What they are trying to rate is the creative vision the director had for the film.

2) You indeed can rate two works individually. Of course you will compare events found in the original to the adaptation, but my contention is that you should not since you are trying to compare two different mediums which require their own set of rules to critique. For instance, you can't rate the special effects in the novel "Moby Dick" because it has none.

3) Indeed there are benefits to rating an adaptation as an individual work. It encourages directors to stretch their creative vision to show how they viewed the events of the book. It may aggravate people, but they have to understand that a film is a product of the original writer's and the director's imaginations. And as we all know, imagination can wildly vary from person to person.
a) Could you also think of the public outcry if a movie was flat out horrible, but was given the highest ratings because it strictly followed its source material? The critics who reviewed the movie would lose their jobs


1) I accept Con's terms that scripts should be considered original works, just novels are, and that a film is actually an adaptation of said works. This does not change my argument at all.

2) Books and movies are two separate medium and for that reason should be subject to differing opinions, even if they are intimately related to one another.

3) Sometimes, in order to make a film more presentable, certain liberties have to be taken with the original work. This is not only required, but is expected of directors. To take something from a page on a book and transform it into a scene with imagery and sound on a screen requires originality and creativeness on the director's part. Because of this fact, you cannot relate the two in terms of quality. They have now become two separate mediums and require two separate reviews of each in what is considered appropriate for each medium.

4) If an adaptation is fantastic , 4-star quality, but you are giving it a lower score because it "loosely" follows the original work, you are biased. What is considered a good movie, and what is considered a good book re two different things. There is no law that says every adaptation must be strictly that.

5) I will go so far to say that there can be no perfect adaptation. There will always be ideas in a novel that just can't transfer to the screen and vice versa. Because of this fact, you are already expecting the worse from an adaptation film. My contention is that since it is physically impossible to have a perfect adaptation, people should stop worrying about how closely it portrays the book, and worry more about how well the movie presents its content.


TallIndianKid forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2


DrStrangeLuv forfeited this round.


TallIndianKid forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
7 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 7 records.
Posted by adealornodeal 5 years ago
I would vote, but I don't feel fair in giving points to either side; I am not convinced by the pro (I inherently agree with the con), but I can't see myself voting con because of forfeited rounds. It would have been an interesting debate if it had been finished though.
Posted by Mirza 5 years ago
E.g. if the book says with a fine rhetoric, "And Joan walked in the gardens; she found a rose, and she found deserted happiness..."

This can really not be part of a movie except if there is a first person narrator who says a lot of the text. Still, a movie and a book are always two separate things (unless it is a manuscript).
Posted by Mirza 5 years ago

The movie does not use the same rhetoric as the book, it usually skips many details, and from time to time it shows something that is not part of a book. That is why I agree with Pro; a filmatized book does not make the movie that is based on it something which reflects it perfectly.
Posted by DrStrangeLuv 5 years ago
hey cool idea, just click the "accept debate" button and we can talk about it.
Posted by BlackVoid 5 years ago
Is treating it as an individual work even legal? Seems like it would violate all kinds of plagiarism/copyright laws.
Posted by DrStrangeLuv 5 years ago
thanks for the info ;)
Posted by xxdarkxx 5 years ago
What you don't realize is that the Director is essentially not creating his own work. He(she) is adapting the "book" into a suitable format and style for their directing sense. So ultimately it should be judged in both a manner relating to the book and a manner of simply taking the technical, and creative aspects of the film into consideration.

I would just debate you on this... but I have way to much stuff on my hands right now.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by ethopia619 5 years ago
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Total points awarded:42