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Reading a book is better than watching a film

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/11/2014 Category: Movies
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,226 times Debate No: 45646
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (1)
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I agree with this statement very strongly. Films are a great thing to watch however they are no way as good as reading the book.
My first point that I am going to make is the fact that books are able to have more detail and sections in them. The book is longer therefore does not have to be so restricted unlike the film which will have a certain time slot to try and fit everything into the film. Films miss out main points and sometimes miss out key information about the characters. This key information could be very important because it could help you understand the way that the character acts and how they cope and deal with certain things. The book will give extra information and detail which may help you understand it better.
My second point is that books are a great way for people to become more educational without having to do loads of hard-work. It helps people widen their vocabulary range and think of better ways to write things. Books are probably more educational for young children that are starting to learn basic vocabulary and as time goes along the books will get harder for them unlike a film which will not have as much of an educational side because of the fact that everything is being said and thought for you.
Lastly, the book allows you to have a wild imagination and build your own images up rather than having them chose for you straight away. The film makes you have a fixed mind set because all the views and images are created by the director and not by what you've made. The film just makes you think one thing rather then being able to have an expanding mind set. The book makes you have your own imagery and ables you to be able to be an independent thinker and create images for yourself.


I will accept the debate and argue that books and films are equally "good".

Pro forgot to give definitions so I'll assume them for him.

Book = literature: writings in which expression and form, in connection with ideas of permanent and universal interest, are characteristic or essential features, as poetry, novels, history, biography, and essays.

Film = motion picture

Better = superior in quality or excellence.

In his first point pro claimed that books are longer and more detailed and movies are restricted to a time slot. He also claims that movies cannot succeed in developing characters as well as books. This is however a huge generalization. Movies have never been restricted to any time slot. A quick google teaches me there are numerous movies of which the length ranges from 5 to 14 hours [1]. Of course, those movies form a minority, but that does not mean they're to be discarded as movies. Movies take as much time as needed. The claim that books are able to have more detail in them is also false. Because facial expressions, surroundings and cinematography are something that books miss. Sure a book can explain the environment, explain the emotions of the character but that only goes so far. For many people it takes a great deal to so vividly imagine the character going through whatever the author throws at them. In movies this is more easibly detectable.
Not to mention the cinematography that adds a great deal of fascination to a movie. I'm talking about aerial shots, backlighting, cross-cutting, jump cuts, deep focuses, dollies, eye-line matching, fill light and many more. I have yet to see a book that is able to perform that.
Pro claimed that movie characters are less capable of developing. This is also false. I will quickly take There Will Be Blood [2] as an example. An excellent movie from 2007 about an oil entrepeneur and his rise and downfall. This is an example of a movie that greatly focuses on character and not so much on plot. There's not a single scene where Daniel Plainview is not present in. Due to the excellent acting of Daniel-Day Lewis we can read every thought and emotion of Plainview's face. We empathize with him; we laugh and cry with him. And this is but one example of many excellent movies.

In his second point pro claimed that books are a good way for people to become more educational without having to do hard work and assumes books are not. This, as well, is a huge generalization. There have been many movies dealing with philosophical problems like Pi, a Clockwork Orange, the Truman Show, Groundhog Day and many more. And for the younglings among us, Disney has contributed a lot of movies educating little kids. Aladdin taught us that love is not restricted to social ranks. Toy Story taught us that jealousy and envy can cloud your judgement. Mulan taught us that any gender can do great things. And these are all kids movies. Besides, I have yet to meet a kid that would rather read a book than watch a movie.

In his third point pro claimed that movies have a fixed mindset and prevent building on imagination. While this might be true on a visual level, such as that the images will always be the same for everyone, content-wise this is not necessarily the case. David Lynch [3] is a great director known for having very ambivalent movies. He will show you a 3-hour combination of sceneries and people and it's up to you to figure out what the heck is going on. There's not a right or a wrong answer, every interpretation is valid. So yes, these movies do contribute to your independant thinking.

My conclusion is as follows:
Books and movies are two completely different things. Books do some things better, movies do other things better. Hollywood isn't the only place where movies are made. Genious directors and writers from all over the world make magnificent movies that are full of philosophical subjects and can teach you as much as books can. You just have to know where to look.

More sources available on request.
Debate Round No. 1


Firstly I would like to the fact that who would want to watch a 5-14 hour movie? Surely people would get bored of sitting there watching something for so long, no-one would like to do that. Yes, you can come back to watching the film however people just haven't got the time, with a book it is able to read anywhere and everywhere and people would find it much easier to carry a book around and read it whenever possible.
Most movies do their thing in 1.5"3 hours. A book is edited and crafted, but the writer is still working within an unlimited time canvas. This condensing of books into movies leads to deleted parts from the book or abbreviation of developments within the book(1). This shows that the majority of films are short and do miss details and sometimes it is major details.
Books also do not miss surroundings, facial expressions or cinematography. You are able to know the surroundings because the book will go into detail about that a lot of the time and the reader will also set the scene a lot better then the film-maker. The facial expressions in a book are shown by the way the character is acting at that time therefore people are able to imagine it. The things shown in the film like facial expressions, surrounding etc, are just a group of people's opinions unlike a book which allows people to get their own opinions and judgements rather than them being made for them.
Cinematography is unable to be performed in a book, obviously however the book doesn't need to ability to use cinematography because all the words in the book give you everything you need without the unnecessary things to put you off the message of the story.

The con claimed that there is many philosophical films and yes there is however some uneducated people may find it hard to understand these films however if they was able to read the book and get guidance with that they will be able to have widened their vocabulary range whilst also being able to have learnt how to understand books. I would just like to say that kids may not understand the message of them films because them films are animations and are usually aimed at younger kids however by watching the film they will not be able to become more educated by sat in front of the television just watching something that they may find interesting but do not understand. Also, kids may not like reading books however parents should introduce reading books more often to their kids because it will help them in the future.

Movies do build up on the imagery people receive however people should be able to make them judgements for themselves without having a director doing that for them, even though the director may have ambivalent movies.

My Conclusion:
Books will still be better than films even though people do prefer to watch the films as it is more entertaining however books are just better in the long run. (1)


I will spend this round refuting pro's claims.

My opponent asks who would want to watch a 5-14 hour movie? Who would dedicate such long time watching one story play out? This is not a hard question for the 114 million subscribers of HBO [1]. Tv series have started to gain massive popularity since the 2000s. Why? Because you dedicate a long time following characters and getting to know them. And the best thing about it, an episode usually only takes an hour, making you able to cut a show into nice little pieces to watch. And yes, while a book is very mobile and easy to carry around, so is a smartphone with a Netflix app. I agree that condensing books into movies rarely works out, which is why it's a stupid idea. Not because movies are somehow inferior storytellers, but because books are much lenghtier than movies and many details would get deleted. Just like it's a bad idea to put a grown man in a baby's crib, or stuffing an elephant in a freezer. Then again, why would you?

Pro states that the things shown in a film are just a group of people's opinions unlike a book which allows people to get their own opinions and judgements rather than them being made for them. Ironically, I see it as quite the opposite. When a book wants to inform the reader that a character is envious about something we see "the man was envious about...". When a movie wants to do the same we see the character looking, we might see him angry a bit, his face might turn red, these are things we OBSERVE and not READ as it is a fact. The first leaves the emotion of the character open and lets us figure things out. I understand there are many books that do this more subtly than how I described it, but we have to remember this debate is not about movies being better than books, it's about movies being equally good.

I would also like to comment on pro's claim that words in the book give you everything you need without the unnecessary things to put you off the message of the story. The story and message of Moby Dick can be summarized in one or two pages tops. But this is not why you read a book. You read a book because you enjoy the author's techniques of easing us into this. Just like with movies, cinematography makes a movie enjoyable to watch. Isn't that what any writer strives for?

Pro claims that philosophical films are inferior because uneducated people may not understand it. But I think we should not be making books or films for the lowest common denominator, we should make them for every audience, smart ones and less smart ones. The ones that enjoy mindless action and explosions can go to Michael Bay movies, the ones that enjoy a more sophisticated subject can go to other movies. Pro claims that if the same uneducated people would read books they would understand them. That seems to me like a contradiction, because pro has always preached that books play more with the imagination and interpretation than movies. Pro also claims that younger people will not be educated by sitting on the couch staring at something they don't understand. This applies to both books and movies.

In his last point pro seems to acknowledge what I said but then completely ignore it. If a director has made an ambivalent movie, this means that that he does not judge about the story and lets the viewer decide. I have not seen a rebuttal to this claim.

I rest my case and which my opponent good luck in the last round.

Debate Round No. 2


I've left my final round to be the best, and I have got many points to talk about which Con has helped me to bring up. So, thank you however I do not need Con's 'Good Luck'.

Right let me start by building on the first point you made, you have started to mention TV series which is very different from a movie. TV series are much easier to follow and watch rather than a 5-14 long hour movie. I would just like to say that people can watch an episode for one hour and then wait to watch the next one. No-one would want to stop-start a film every hour into it. I would also like to say that a TV series is way easier to watch than a 5-14 hour film, also a TV series is nothing like a film because how do you know a 5-14 hour film goes into characters background and shows you minor details about that character which could actually turn out into a major detail about that character. Also I would like to ask, have you ever watched a 5-14 hour film? And the answer is probably a 'no' like the majority of people in this world. Many more books have been read then 5-14 hour film has been watched.

Moving on, you said the fact that you can get Netflix on smartphone. What if people don't have a smartphone? What if they don't have a Netflix account? The easiest option for them would be to buy a book. Also people may not want to watch a film on their phones because it would drain people's phone batteries.

The book doesn't have images unlike a film which is full of images and scenes which are made up by what other people think rather than the reader themselves, therefore their judgements have been made already for them. Con claims that you have to observe the way people are acting in a film however if you read a book and it told you about that character in extra detail you would be able to understand that fact that the character is acting that way. for an example of the films missing out details, as a studier of the book 'Of Mice and Men' in the book it shows a lot of racism and ageism however the film misses quite of a lot of this out and it misses out details about characters for example 'Curley's wife'. And I would just like to say this debate is not about films and books being as equally as good because the title of the debate clearly states 'Reading a book is better than watching a film'.

I would like to build on the point I made about the message of the book and how there isn't unnecessary things. I was trying to say that films get put of track by adding things in which may distract people from the message, who writes a book/makes a film to have no point being made? No-one, the points and messages portrayed by the author/director is the main thing which makes a book or film good.

Con also claimed that films and books should be made for every audience however many books are like that because you have books for all ages and educated people however these days films are not for the less educated audience and are a lot more complex to what they used to be and in my opinion more educated films should be made which are going to help people progress and help them in the future. And books are made for all ages and the messages for all books are easily made in a prologue or a blurb. Unfortunately, parents do stick their children in front of a telly rather than reading them a book and helping them understand a book, this would not also help that child, it would help the bonding of that child and their parents.

In Cons last point he claimed that I ignored his point about ambivalent movies however I didn't therefore I am going to ignore Con's last point in round 2.


I'm glad pro has such confidence in his case, let's hope it's well placed.

I could not make much sense of most of pro's first argument, for the sentence was long and confusing. But I understood that he claims that tv series are easier to follow than a long movie and asks me if I have ever watched such a film. My answer is no of course, but my personal experience is no determinant for the validity of the argument and is therefore completely irrelevant.

Moving on, pro attempted to put down my argument by questioning whether enough people own smartphones and have a netflix account. Needless to say, most people these days have smartphones. I even dare to estimate there are more people who own a smartphone than there are people who frequently read books. Pro claims buying a book would be a better expenditure than buying a netflix account. However the cost of a Netflix account is 7 dollars a month while the cost of a book ranges from 5 to 30 dollars. So yes, if you would only choose of the two, netflix would be cheaper. But you could just as well enjoy both media and not limit yourself to one. After all books and movies are equally fun.

Pro likes to get back on his argument of interpretation and imagination. He again uses Of Mice and Men and the movie equivalent of it. I thought I had made clear that translating books into movies rarely works, but pro overlooked that. He uses a terrible example to reinforce his argument. Instead, I will again fall back on There Will Be Blood; a movie that has not been translated from a book. In this movie we see every detail we need to say and don't miss anything. Pro complains about the subject of this debate, and somehow waited until the last round to do so. Nevertheless, the premise of this debate is "Reading a book is better than watching a film". I, as con, am supposed to argue that "Reading a book is NOT better than watching a film", which is exactly what I am doing right now.

Pro made the point that films get put off track by addition of things that distract people from the message. Currently, I cannot find an example of a movie that does this. In every well-made movie every scene contributes something to the story, so I wouldn't call it useless. Pro proceeds to use a strawman argument by asking why a director would make a movie with no point being made. Never once have I suggested this.

Pros following argument I could also not make much sense of because, I apologize. I understand that he was trying to say that movies these days are more complex than what they used to be. I highly doubt that since the audience for cinema has grown tremendously over the last decades, but that's not what this debate is about.

Pro has again not made a comment about ambivalent movies, so that argument still stands.

Time for the conclusion. Pro has failed to comment on multiple arguments I have made. I have presented multiple examples of movies with equal complexity and enjoyability as books. I thank my opponent for this debate and may the best man win.
Debate Round No. 3
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by marinaspins 2 years ago
I think that books are way better than movies. If you think about how long you spend reading a book, its definitely not the same amount of time as watching a movie. When I read, I have an image in my head and sometimes the movies can ruin that image for me, almost like it doesn't seem as real or as good as I remember. Although sometimes, they make books after the movie is released, but they are not as popular. Overall, books are better. For me at least.
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