Topic of the week: Have you ever read books because of the movies based on them? How did they measure up?
Preparing for this week’s post, I was really worried. As I’d mentioned, I don’t watch many movies, so I wasn’t sure I’d have anything to write about. But I was absolutely amazed that I was able to come up with TWO titles that fit the criteria! Here they are:
Romeo and Juliet – In 1968, Franco Zeffirelli directed a version of this classic that put Shakespeare into the world of the American teenager. His secret? He used teenagers in the lead roles. Good-looking teens, as opposed to middle-aged Shakespearean actors. As a junior high student, I was totally smitten by Leonard Whiting. Two years later, I read the play in high school, and with every line, I remembered the scenes as they played out in the movie. Of course, working with a classic like this, there wasn’t much of the plot he could have changed, so what I saw what pretty much what I’d read.
Love Story by Erich Seagal. The book came out shortly before the movie, but I saw the movie with a bunch of my young friends (most of the girls in my circle weren’t dating yet). Later on I borrowed the book from the library but for some reason I didn’t get through it. I’d lived through the angst with the movie, but I couldn’t drum up enough interest to do it again with the book.
I know that two examples makes for a skimpy post, so I asked for help from my family and friends. A few people actually responded. My son-in-law, who is quite well-read and watches far more movies than I ever will, expressed some of the same thoughts I had about reading a book after watching the movie, and he gave me permission to quote him.
“For me the best part of reading a book is the pay off towards the final third of a story. The storylines typically converge and it feels like reading the book was worth the time because all of the feelings and emotions that I have been reading about finally give me the picture of who the characters really are and where the story is going. When I watch a movie first and I know the ending (assuming the ending to the book and movie are the same) I feel like it is almost a waste of my time to read the book. I feel like since I know where the story takes the characters, all of the emotional build-up that is typically really satisfying seems rather flat.” ~ Aaron Thomas, Kent District Librarian
A former colleague of mine mentioned that she recently purchased Cider House Rules by John Irving after having seen the movie version several times. I asked her to get back to me after she’d read it, and was so glad when she obliged. Here are her thoughts:
“I’ve seen the movie many, many times. Again, recently. Something prompted me to look at other books by the author. I read the reviews of the book where at least one reviewer said the movie wasn’t enough. Wallah.
“Loved the book too. Lots of things were different, and I liked them better. A lot more made sense. I could really see the shortcuts in the movie, even though it was good too. It was a real character study, and I wished a friend had read it recently to chat about. (And no, I don’t agree with a lot of the things that happen, but I was intrigued at how well developed the characters were. And a lot of terrible things happened…)” ~ Terri Siebelink, Coopersville teacher.
I also checked with my grandkids, all of whom are readers (except for the two pre-shoolers!). Last month I took one of my granddaughters shopping for her birthday gift and she asked if we could go to the bookstore. Of course I was happy to take her there. She wanted the book Maze Runner by James Dashner. Wikipedia describes it as “the first book in a young-adult post-apocalyptic science fiction trilogy”. I asked how she’d heard about the book and she told me she’d seen the movie and wanted to read it because she liked the story so much. She says she likes it so far, but I’ll be interested to hear her thoughts when she finishes it. Her brother told me that he watched Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy before he read the book and liked the book better because “there was a lot more to it.” He’s also watched a show called Flash Forward on TV and then read the book, but found they weren’t similar at all. He said he liked the story from the show better, but preferred the ending of the book. I hope he continues to read and watch with such an editorial eye.
So what about you? Have you ever watched a movie and then felt led to read the book it came from? Was the experience good or bad?