I've always known that books tend to be more detailed than their movie counterparts but I never realized just how different they can be until I started reading the Harry Potter books after watching the movies.
My mom owned all of the Harry Potter books when I was growing up and I meant to read them earlier but they were so intimidating. There are seven books with hundreds of pages each and I figured the movie would be enough. I was wrong.
Over the years, I grew to love the Harry Potter movies; always excited for the next one to come to theaters. I own all of the movies and I love when the marathons come on TV because I get to sit and watch 16 hours of straight HP. It's glorious.
I am currently on the fourth book and I have a feeling that if I had read the books first, I wouldn't have liked the movies as much as I do. I'm not saying they're bad but some scenes are extremely different in the books compared to the movies. It's kind of confusing since I'm remembering it one way and reading it another so I've noted some of the alterations made between the two versions.
So far, the fourth book differs the most with little details being moved around and occurring in various fashions. Even the beginning nightmare varies due to a lack of a third person and Voldemort actually being seen in his state of weakness, both of which do not coincide with the movie. Along with little details, there are also much bigger details that are completely missing from the movie like the fact that house-elves do not appear at all.
I understand the impossibility of fitting hundreds of pages into a two-hour film but I do feel that directors and producers owe it to the authors to follow the structure of the book as much as possible. The omission of the house-elves changes a lot of details in the movie even though it was a good decision to leave it out. It just seems a bit odd because of how much it appears in the book.
I guess the more important quality of movies is not fitting in all the details but in providing entertainment. The more entertaining, the more people will watch. The tasks are written very differently compared to how they are portrayed in the movie. The danger of the dragon is emphasized in the movie as it breaks loose from its chains and follows Harry around Hogwarts; whereas, in the book, the dragon never leaves the ring created for the champions. The thrill of the second task is more prominent in the movie than in the book, causing Harry to fight harder to succeed.
With all the little details changing, the story doesn't necessarily change but the portrayal of the characters does in small ways. You learn more about the characters when you read the book because there is more to decipher among the words written. But you see how one transforms words into action when you watch the movie. So, it's good to do both and interpret the differences for oneself.