View Full Version : Read the book or watch the movie first?
03-26-2011, 12:04 AM
Contrary to what most people usually recommended I have aways preferred to watch a movie first and then read the book. I find reading the book first always takes away for the movie. I'm constantly analyzing what details they choose to leave out or change and it ultimately takes away from my enjoyment and impact of the film as it often seems rushed. On the other hand when I read the book after I watch the film, it's like an extended cut where I can gather much more follow up information, getting all the extra detail that the film had to cut out to fit a reasonable running time. The only draw back I find reading he book second is that I often have the actors in my head when i'm envisioning the characters. So what do you prefer?
03-26-2011, 01:01 AM
I'm rarely hip enough to have read the book first, so it is hard to say in my case, but I agree with you that reading the book afterwards is similar to an extended cut. I've read the book after many times, and never regretted it.
After Fellowship of the Rings (film), I read the trilogy and was ahead of the game for the next two. I couldn't wait to see how they dealt with the days of walking/running at the beginning of Two Towers, but I also enjoyed the entended bits of Fellowship in the book, and was glad certain parts didn't make it, such as the Tom Bombadill experience.
There are merits to each experience to be sure.
That said, I'd love to see a film of Stephen King's Cell.
03-26-2011, 01:26 AM
As a general rule I prefer to read the book before seeing the movie but everything you've said is absolutely true. I find myself criticizing everything from the casting choices to the sets and almost never enjoy the film as much as the book which is why I think "the book is better than the movie" is such a common, overused, and probably unfair statement.
I read Jaws and Carrie after seeing the movies and in both cases I felt the movies were better than the books despite the fact that both books had details and subplots that I would have loved to see included. I read Cujo before seeing the movie but still loved the movie even though King's original ending was much more powerful and appropriate for the story.
I generally don't do books based on screenplays, but as a kid I did a lot of them and I still think Hank Searls' Jaws 2 is a damned good book. I'm assuming it was based on an early draft of the screenplay becuase while it's got a lot of the same basic elements of the film, it's more like an entirely original story in and of itself. I HIGHLY recommend it to any Jaws fans who've never read it.
And then there's Maude! Moll, I mean. In college, I fell in love with Defoe's Moll Flanders and couldn't wait to see the films. I rented one with Morgan Freeman that I couldn't even get through because it bore absolutely NO resemblance to the novel, but followed this pathetic attempt with a BBC miniseries starring Alex Kingston that I felt was absolutely brilliant, even after reading the book. I tracked down my professor after seeing this version to tell her how great it was but it turned out she had already seen it and thought it was awful.
So, I guess it really depends on each person's own opinions and expectations when comparing one to the other.
03-26-2011, 02:13 AM
Seeing a movie based on a book that I've read is much like seeing a remake for me. I can't help but compare the two. And I'm generally very disappointed in the changes.
Most screenwriters and filmmakers seem to think that the mediums are so different that straight book adaptations almost always result in ineffective films. I agree that books that rely heavily on the personality of the narrator are difficult to adapt--and often better left untouched. Vonnegut's Breakfast of Champions is a good example--a great book with a flippant narrative tone that made a horrible film. And I flat-out cringe to think of a movie adaptation of "Catcher In The Rye." It's possible that those books could be adapted faithfully in terms of plot. But due to their distinct narrative styles I don't think it's possible to tell their stories the same way on film.
What's more troubling to me is Hollywood's tendency to substantially alter the storylines of plot-driven literary works. The screen treatment of Sherlock Holmes is probably the biggest head scratcher for me. The original Doyle stories retain immense popularity, now over 100 years since their initial publication. Yet screenwriters always seem to think that the books are unfilmable without radical revisions. Granada proved that assertion incorrect in the '80s. But it's the same old, same old in America--where we get a big-budget film series featuring a miscast American Holmes who relies on his fists more than his wits. I think it would bother me a lot less if I didn't get the impression that Warner Bros. thinks the average American is too dumb to enjoy a more faithful interpretation.
A good film adaptation of a favorite book is a true joy for me. Too bad they're few and far between. In general, I'm probably better off seeing the movie first. I can't recall many instances where I found a book vastly inferior to its movie counterpart. Of course, I'd venture to guess that lousy books rarely make the leap to the silver screen.
03-26-2011, 02:43 AM
I agree with absolutely everything you said here, Ash.
03-27-2011, 12:16 AM
i agree, the idea that the book is always better than the movie is a bit of a cliche, and a generalization that kind of disregards the abilities of film as an art form. My general rule of thumb, is to read/watch whichever is more respected within it's own medium first. For example, with criterion's release of The Furies (which I have not yet seen), the original novel is included. The film is well-regarded, but the book is generally forgotten. So I'll be watching the movie before reading the book. But then in the case of a film like east of eden, the book is also very highly regarded. I saw the movie a long time ago, but after purchasing it a few years ago, I've been waiting to read the book before watching the film again.
of course, this rule gets thrown out all the time. i read let the right one in after seeing the movie. i've read lots of stephen king's books after seeing the movies. i can't honestly think of a time when i regretted reading or watching one before the other. a good book is still a good book, even if you already know how the story goes.
03-27-2011, 02:51 AM
I don't like re-reading books, so for me it'd be difficult to read a book after I'd seen the movie because it's like re-reading the book. I'm pretty good about separating the movie from the material and I'm more often willing to say the movie is better than the book (The Shining for example).
03-27-2011, 04:51 AM
I think seen the movie first is the better option because
2 - you don't know the story (so you know the end of the story)
1 - you don't have any expectation so, no deception.
If i know who is Stephen King is because i saw Carrie, Christine, Children of the Corn, Cujo and Silver Bullet on tv. The first SK book i've buy was Silver Bullet (the screenplay+ the original short story on the same book) because i love the movie. A few months later Cujo, Carrie, Shining, The Stand was on my library.
Yes, most of the time the book is much better than the movie.
(most of the time. I saw Silence of the Lamb and i have read the original novel after. For me, the movie is much.)
The best "novel based on a screenplay" i have read (i really have read a lot of those books when i was young, from Aliens to Terminator, Predator, Gremlins, Rambo III, Ghostbusters, Alien, V, The Omen II ...) is Natural Born Killers. The novelisation is an great supplement to the movie.
(I still have a lot of book to read, i have buy all of the because i love the movie: Shutter Island, Gone Baby Gone, Casino, Carlito's Way, Mystic River, many Philip K. Dick, many Stephen king, Battle Royale..... the list is long)
03-27-2011, 09:38 AM
For the most part, I prefer to read the book first. I like to think that I am pretty good at keeping the two separate in terms of judgment. And in most cases, I find that knowing the source material can actually help improve my opinion of a film. Take Watchmen for example. That's one of my favorite books, and I think knowing how difficult it would be to adapt that to screen makes me appreciate the film even more. Had I been unfamiliar with the original and it's place in history, I probably would have been less impressed with the film. I think the same can be said for Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, The Lord of the Rings films, Wuthering Heights, Naked Lunch, and Lolita.
And in the cases where I would say that they truly messed up the adaptation of the source material, those tend to just be bad films. From Hell, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and War of the Worlds pop in to mind right away.
And, in the few cases where I have read the books after, unless it is a stellar adaptation, I find that having the film characters in my head gets in the way. Even with a great film like The Big Sleep, it took me a while to get Bogart out of my head when reading Chandler. And, as much as I love the film, Bogart really looks nothing like the way Chandler describes Marlowe.
However, I would say that it does help to have seen the films of Shakespeare first. At least it helps keep the characters distinct in my head.
03-27-2011, 02:45 PM
yeah, that's a book I made a point of reading before seeing the movie. in that case, i think knowledge of the book is really necessary for complete enjoyment of the film.
03-27-2011, 05:20 PM
You'll almost always hate a movie adaptation after you've read and loved a book. If you love a movie and then read the book, you usually enjoy the movie more and/or get more out of it.
03-27-2011, 06:07 PM
Sometimes I read the book before seeing a movie & other times I've read the book because of the movie.
vBulletin® v3.8.2, Copyright ©2000-2013, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.