Jurassic Park, Twilight, Harry Potter, The Help, The Hunger Games, Pride and Prejudice, Romeo and Juliet, Water for Elephants, The Da Vinci Code, Chronicles of Narnia, The Great Gatsby, The Notebook, The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo, Eat Pray Love, Lord of the Flies, and hundreds upon hundreds more…. these are just a handful of books that were turned into movies. I’ve only read about half of the books that were turned into movies listed above but I’ve seen more than half of the movies. Sometimes, I don’t realize that a movie was actually based on a book until long after they’ve both been released. Sometimes, I hear about a new movie that’s coming out that’s based on a book. Sometimes I hear about this great book that I should read long before there’s any public mention of it being turned into a movie. Sometimes I wonder if book authors are the only people left with any original ideas and that’s why so many movies are made out of their books.
So a friend of mine and I were having a debate the other day about a movie that was coming out and whether or not we wanted to read the book that it’s based on before we saw the movie. My argument was this:
I read Twilight long before it became the insane sensation that it is these days. I stumbled upon it in a Barnes & Nobles one day and decided to buy it. Right after the second book, New Moon, came out is when the series became a worldwide sensation. I was already on that gravy train before it even left the station. Anyway, you know how when you read a book you imagine in your minds eye how things are playing out? You see the way that you think the characters look, the facial expressions they make, the scenery around them, etc? Well to me, that’s the fun of reading a book… you get to use your imagination. So here’s the problem… when the movie Twilight finally came out, it didn’t reflect what I saw in my minds eye. The people they chose for certain characters weren’t the people I would have chosen. The movie was made to appeal to more of a tween audience (in keeping true to the books young adult genre) but I’m not a tween so of course, I wanted it to be portrayed as something a bit more mature. There are scenes in the book that don’t appear in the movie and scenes in the movie that don’t appear in the book. Basically, the film wasn’t directed or produced by me and therefore, it seemed inferior. Not because I’m a great director, but because what I had seen in my imagination when reading the book was awesome and the movie just didn’t live up to it. Also, after watching the movie I decided to go back and try to read the book and I couldn’t. I kept hearing the conversations the way that they were spoken on the movie screen, not the way that they were written in the book. I kept seeing Kristen Stewart in my mind instead of the imaginary Bella Swan I’d seen before. Basically, the book wasn’t the same. I couldn’t take away the sights and sounds that the movie had put in the forefront of my mind and go back to the wonderful imaginings that Stephanie Meyer had managed to conjure out of thin air.
My conclusion, then, which I shared with my friend is this: I get so much more enjoyment out of the book then I ever do out of the movie. Therefore, I will always choose to read the book first.
What about you? Are you a book first or movie first sort of person?