Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Movie or Book First?

I'm sure everyone deals with this dilemma once in a while. A good book (a GREAT book) comes out, shortly followed by the movie. Or maybe a good movie comes out, and you learn the story was originally a book.

Because I'm still reading The First Wives Club after watching the movie...again...I started thinking about all the movies I've seen and have also read the book. I admit that it used to bother me, as if it was a RULE that I had to choose which was better. And to tell the truth, most of the time the book wins out. But sometimes I can't choose, and so there's a tie.

An example of a tie would be Gone With the Wind. I saw the movie for the first time in high school (196?) and loved it. I read the book much later and loved it. I can't pick between the two, because both are excellent and offer different things. For instance, I can't imagine anyone playing any of those roles except the actors/actresses who did them. But if I'd read the book first, without knowing anything about the movie, I wonder how I would have imagined the characters. I doubt Rhett would have resembled Clark Gable in my mind. :)

And that's really the question. Is it better to see the movie first or read the book first? In most cases of book-turned-movie, I've read the book first. GWTW and To Kill a Mockingbird are two exceptions, and with both, I can't choose which is better. I assume most readers are like me and have a picture in their mind of what the characters look like. When a movie is made, there's no way to match the mental pictures of the millions of readers. Tom Hanks would never have been my choice for Robert Langdon in the Da Vinci Code, even when I tried to envision him while I read the book a second time before I saw the movie. But he did a good job and I was able to forget my prejudice during the movie.

Then there are all the things that are left out or changed when the movie is made, usually because of time restrictions. My youngest daughter is a Harry Potter fan and has her own opinions on the more recent movies. Because I've only read the first of the HP books, I don't have the problems she has when seeing the movie. She's noticing all the things that are "wrong" or not there. I'm just watching the movie and trying to make heads or tails of a few things. But she's never turned down the opportunity to see the movie. :)

So which is it? Movie first or book first? You choose.

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