Five reasons to read the book before watching the movie
Today is the 64th anniversary of the mass publication in America of George Orwell’s Animal Farm, a book considered one of the most influential of all time.
What a pity I’ve actually never read it.
And this is despite the fact that I’ve owned a copy since I was 17, when everyone else I knew read it. Or did they?
That aside, the fact that I haven’t read the book also means I haven’t watched either of the two film adaptations of the book - because when it comes to the book before film argument, I am 100 per cent guaranteed to read the book first.
Now depending on which side of the fence you sit, you’ll either experience shock and disbelief or a comforting sense of being understood and appreciated.
Sound a little dramatic? Try typing “book before movie” into Google or Twitter and see what pops up for you.
This is a passionate topic for a lot of people and rightly so with an average of 30 novels being churned into film every year.
Moira McDonald is a film reviewer/blogger for the Seattle Times and says she loves not reading the book before the movie because it allows the movie to “surprise her”.
She also admits to the utterly unthinkable: reading the book “after” seeing the movie.
“I read Revolutionary Road after watching the movie, and was thrilled by both experiences, all the more so because I had no idea what Kate Winslet’s character was going to do,” she says.
I’m definitely with The Tome Traveller who at the time of writing was devouring the book Julie and Julia, a story depicting some of the events in the life of American gourmet Julia Child and Julia Powell who aspires to cook all 524 recipes from Child’s cookbook, before hitting the cinema.
She writes: “For some reason, once the book is in my imagination I have no trouble watching someone else’s imagining of it. But if I see the movie first, then my imagination never gets to do the work and it ruins things for me.”
Here’s five reasons why I’ll always be book first, movie second. What about you? Have you any add to this - or can you list reasons that movie-first is the way to go?
1. Read the book first and your imagination rules the roost. You design the set, the character and sometimes even the time and place.
2. You set the budget! There is nothing more reassuring when movie makers capture a place or character just the way you imagined but how horrible is it when they don’t?
3. You get an ‘even’ sense of every character, their purpose and their potential impact on their story. Movie adaptations often only explore one aspect of a character.
4. You can really drag out the ending. Or should you choose to, you never have to read the ending at all. Arguably this could also be achieved with a pause button. Difficult in the cinema though.
5. It’s much easier to indulge in a love of book-honed detail. You can also really annoy everyone else by constantly braying “that’s not the way it was in the book” when you do watch the film.
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