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Do You Prefer to Read the Book First and Then Watch the Movie? Or Vice Versa?


speedracer5
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I've found that when books are made into films, there are people who refuse to see the film before reading the book.  I imagine that this is to get the "real story" before seeing the Hollywood version.  These people can then complain what liberties Hollywood took with the story or commend the filmmakers for staying true to the source material.  While I do agree with this opinion, I've also found that having seen the movie first can help clarify plot points in the book.

 

I read The Great Gatsby first and then saw the most recent incarnation of the film (with Leonardo DiCaprio.  I really liked it, but that's another discussion).  Having read the book, I was able to be one of "those people" who picked out plot points that differed from F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel.  I liked the book better than the movie, but I liked the movie too.  

 

However, I saw The Picture of Dorian Gray (with George Sanders) and really enjoyed it.  I especially found the sole color scene of his painting after years had passed to be very effective.  Then I decided to read Oscar Wilde's novel.  I'll admit that 19th century British Literature is not one of my strong points.  Not that I can't read it (obviously) but I find that the way the words are written to sometimes be confusing (I have this issue with Dickens as well).  Anyway, I found that having seen the movie first helped me get the gist of what Wilde was trying to say.  For the record, I preferred the movie over the book.

 

What do you think? Book first, then movie? Or movie first, then book? Or does it matter?

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In most instances, I prefer to read the book before seeing the movie version. But one thing I've always appreciated about the television miniseries concept is how it whets one's appetite for reading the book later. I'm sure that's what happened in the 1970s when ABC aired TV versions of "QB VIII," "Rich Man, Poor Man" and "Roots." It all goes hand in hand.

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Excellent question speedracer. For me in the instance of A Patch of Blue I saw the movie first and then really looked forward to reading the novel by Elizabeth Kata. It was somewhat of a disappointment. In the novel Selena was a bit prejudiced herself and the ending was different. To me the movie was very good. Many times it's the opposite. The movie does not always do the book justice.

 

 

 

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In most instances, I prefer to read the book before seeing the movie version. But one thing I've always appreciated about the television miniseries concept is how it whets one's appetite for reading the book later. I'm sure that's what happened in the 1970s when ABC aired TV versions of "QB VIII," "Rich Man, Poor Man" and "Roots." It all goes hand in hand.

I agree with the movie (or miniseries) whetting one's appetite to read the book.  While I'm sure a miniseries can stay fairly truthful to the original source, they probably have to offer a more condensed version of the story since they only have a certain amount of time to tell the story.  I imagine the same is true for the movie version as well.  With a book made into a television series (i.e. Game of Thrones) they have more time to tell the story and can probably be more thorough.  Except, with a television show, I imagine that situations might be created solely for the show that didn't happen in the book?

 

Do you suppose that Hollywood's tendency to split books into two films is a money grab or an attempt to tell a more complete story? Or both? I'm suspecting the former. 

 

With Lord of the Rings, each book (long books at that) was one film.  However, for some reason, The Hobbit (a small book by comparison) is three films?

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Excellent question speedracer. For me in the instance of A Patch of Blue I saw the movie first and then really looked forward to reading the novel by Elizabeth Kata. It was somewhat of a disappointment. In the novel Selena was a bit prejudiced herself and the ending was different. To me the movie was very good. Many times it's the opposite. The movie does not always do the book justice..

 

While I haven't read the book or seen the film you're talking about, I agree that sometimes the original ending can be disappointing.  In the finale of the movie version of Breakfast at Tiffany's, Holly tosses Cat out of the cab.  Paul (or Fred-Baby as I like to call him) then puts Holly in her place by basically telling her that she's her own problem and tosses the ring he had engraved for her in her lap.  Holly has an epiphany and asks to have the cab stopped and gets out into the pouring rain to look for Cat.  She finds Cat and Paul steps out and they embrace and kiss in the rain.  Add in Moon River and you have a very romantic Hollywood ending.

 

In the novel however, Paul doesn't exist and instead, there is a narrator that Holly calls "Fred." At the end, Holly loses Cat and ends up in Argentina.  She does send a postcard to "Fred" but that's the last we here from her.  The ending is more open and there is no real conclusion. 

 

Personally, I like the Hollywood ending, but I'm mushy like that.  Lol.  The Capote novel seems to have a more cynical slant.

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I can't count all the movies that have been made less enjoyable for me if I've read the book first. I'm talking pretty much every single time.

 

After decades of this phenomenon I've concluded that: Reading the book first is ALWAYS detrimental to the enjoyment of the movie; seeing the movie first does NOT necessarily ruin the reading of the book.

 

Of course, if one finds the movie to be not that enjoyable - as in boring - one MAY be discouraged from reading the book at all. Still, I have learned the hard way that many, many movies that people have raved about have left me disappointed because of the spoilers I've carried into the viewing. I missed out on a lot of the excitement that way.

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I've found that when books are made into films, there are people who refuse to see the film before reading the book.  I imagine that this is to get the "real story" before seeing the Hollywood version.  These people can then complain what liberties Hollywood took with the story or commend the filmmakers for staying true to the source material.  While I do agree with this opinion, I've also found that having seen the movie first can help clarify plot points in the book.

 

I read The Great Gatsby first and then saw the most recent incarnation of the film (with Leonardo DiCaprio.  I really liked it, but that's another discussion).  Having read the book, I was able to be one of "those people" who picked out plot points that differed from F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel.  I liked the book better than the movie, but I liked the movie too.  

 

However, I saw The Picture of Dorian Gray (with George Sanders) and really enjoyed it.  I especially found the sole color scene of his painting after years had passed to be very effective.  Then I decided to read Oscar Wilde's novel.  I'll admit that 19th century British Literature is not one of my strong points.  Not that I can't read it (obviously) but I find that the way the words are written to sometimes be confusing (I have this issue with Dickens as well).  Anyway, I found that having seen the movie first helped me get the gist of what Wilde was trying to say.  For the record, I preferred the movie over the book.

 

What do you think? Book first, then movie? Or movie first, then book? Or does it matter?

As usual, excellent topic. I like to see the teleplay or movie first. I'm usually disappointed at the unfaithfulness of the adaption if I read the book first - Wizard of Oz! - and if the show is good, I can then see the actor when I'm reading.

 

Best example - Dalziel and Pascoe, a British detective series.

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I find greatest disappointment when I have read science fiction or fantasy novel first and then watch movie. Differences between description of human character in book and appearance of actor cast for role can be minimal if actor is able to own the role. This is not true for beasties of various ilk. I would love dearly to be able to embrace movies made from: Lord of the Rings trilogy but I know that I could never enjoy them because Orcs shown in trailers for those movies are cute and cuddly compared to mental image which I have of them from reading books.

 

I was able to do unique experiment with last book and two movies of: Harry Potter series. I waited until movies were available on DVD and then I would trade off between reading a chapter or two and then watching some scenes and etc.. I wrote lengthy description of effect and how it enhanced my perceptions and the failings of such a method.

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I almost never read a book after seeing the movie.  The images from the screen are too ingrained in my memory and often conflict with what the author actually wrote and intended.  Also, if the actors are very different from the person the author describes I end up thinking about that and losing track of the story.  Example is Tom Cruise in Jack Reacher movie.  Cruise is so far removed from the actual Jack Reacher as to be a joke.  Will never see the movie.

I remember in college, I saw Where the Boys Are and then found the book in the library.  The book was far more serious than the movie and the movie confused the characters.

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It depends on a lot of factors.

 

For one, there have been times when I'll SEE the movie first, not realizing beforehand it was adapted from a book. 

 

Case in point is one I've mentioned before, THE SILENT PARTNER with Eliot Gould and Christopher Plummer.  It was adapted from a book, "Think Of A Number" (Which winds up as a line IN the movie).  Took me 20 years to finally track down the book, and I WAS disappointed.  Not that the movie "ruined" any visual thing for me, but the book never wrapped up the story as satisfactorily as the movie.

 

Another one was BEING THERE.  It was YEARS after seeing the movie that I spotted the paperback version of the book in a thrift shop.  The movie DID add stuff to the story, and it WAS an improvement, so....

 

THE NATURAL---The movie was better insomuch as IT made the HOBBS character more likeable.  In the book, he was a real JERK!

 

In some cases, the book is better, in others it's the other way around.  But reading the book AFTER isn't ever ALWAYS a disappointment to me, but sometimes it is.

 

 

Sepiatone

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I read mostly non-fiction, so where a novel is adapted into a screenplay, the film is often my first introduction to the work -- I likely haven't happened to have read the book, and I don't have any personal rule about reading the source material before seeing the film adaptation.  If I really like the film, I'll sometimes pick up the book, which I often wind up thinking is superior to the film.  In such cases (where I've seen the film first, and like it, then read the book and think it's even better than the film), liking the book better doesn't ruin my enjoyment of the film; I can easily take them as two separate works.  But where I have read - and enjoyed - the book first, a film I might otherwise have enjoyed can be disappointing to me for failing to "live up to" the book.  Thus there are a few books I like so much, I refuse to see the film (e.g. Friday Night Lights, my childhood favorite Harriet the Spy).

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Movies have always inspired me to read the book version. Like Treasure Island, To Kill a Mockingbird, even Gone with the Wind. The Sherlock Holmes adventures, Charlie Chan, Perry Mason... If I hadn't seen the movie in the first place, I probably wouldn't have been interested.

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Do you suppose that Hollywood's tendency to split books into two films is a money grab or an attempt to tell a more complete story? Or both? I'm suspecting the former. 

 

 

Well, certainly that's one a reason, but I thiink it's often more a matter of keeping a film at a reasonable running time. Theaters often balk about films approaching 3-hours because, that means  fewer shows a day and fewer customers. I doubt outside the largest cities, there would be many exhibitors who would limit themselves with a film twice that length.

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Movies have always inspired me to read the book version. Like Treasure Island, To Kill a Mockingbird, even Gone with the Wind. The Sherlock Holmes adventures, Charlie Chan, Perry Mason... If I hadn't seen the movie in the first place, I probably wouldn't have been interested.

This is pretty true of me, too. I love reading books but my eyesight is such that reading is pretty tedious, though I love books, so the movie usually makes me want to read the book. In the case of the Series Book, it's nice to watch the first movie then read the rest of the series, then watch the movie versions. That helps my brain keep track of who all the characters are. Dickens is way more easy for me to follow after having seen a movie version (or miniseries, which is usually the case).

 

There are a couple times I already wanted to read the book but intentionally watched the movie first because I knew the movie would bug me if I read the book first. Because, for example, I watched the film THE HUNGER GAMES before reading the book I was able to refute people's complaints about relationships not being clear or characters not being developed enough. Then seeing the film again after having read the book, plot and character points become more clear (this happened with DIVERGENT--I somehow missed a whole character!)

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Movies have always inspired me to read the book version. Like Treasure Island, To Kill a Mockingbird, even Gone with the Wind. The Sherlock Holmes adventures, Charlie Chan, Perry Mason... If I hadn't seen the movie in the first place, I probably wouldn't have been interested.

 

Same here.   Other then the classis books I was 'required' to read as part of my education,  many of the books I have read for pleasure were because I had seen a movie and that movie made me seek out associated books.    Now in many cases the books were by the author of the story the movie was based on and NOT just the book that the movie was based on.    e.g.   After seeing a Rathbone Holmes movie or two I purchased the complete Holmes works of Arthur Conan Doyle or after seeing Bogie as Spade in the Maltese Falcon I purchased many Hammett books (in some cases I saw the movie before reading the book and in other cases I saw the movie after). 

 

As someone noted,   if one view the movie before reading the book it is hard to NOT see the actor as the book character while reading the book (even a different book for the same character,  like Holmes).       Over the years,  I saw so many different actors playing Holmes (my favorite being Jeremy Brett),  that I could read a Holmes story without viewing Holmes as Rathbone.

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For me it really depends on which one I discover first. I read Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter and Jurassic Park years before the movie versions. Other times, I see the movie and I like it enouogh to make me want to go find the book (To Kill a Mockingbird, The African Queen, Room With a View, The Thin Man, etc)

 

Question: For those who were around and interested when the Star Wars films came out in the late 70's--am I misremembering or did the book version of Star Wars:A New Hope come out months before the movie? Because I remember reading it and being SOOO excited to see the movie (hey, I was like 12--cut me some slack. LOL)

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For me it really depends on which one I discover first. I read Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter and Jurassic Park years before the movie versions. Other times, I see the movie and I like it enouogh to make me want to go find the book (To Kill a Mockingbird, The African Queen, Room With a View, The Thin Man, etc)

 

Question: For those who were around and interested when the Star Wars films came out in the late 70's--am I misremembering or did the book version of Star Wars:A New Hope come out months before the movie? Because I remember reading it and being SOOO excited to see the movie (hey, I was like 12--cut me some slack. LOL)

 

When you read a book like The Thin Man after seeing the movie in your 'mind's eye' isn't the character Nick, William Powell?  

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When you read a book like The Thin Man after seeing the movie in your 'mind's eye' isn't the character Nick, William Powell? 

 

That's one of my favorite films, and I had seen the entire film franchise before reading the book from which the original film is adapted.  I like movie Nick and Nora a lot better than book Nick and Nora.  But, yes, I did see Powell and Loy in my head while reading it, because after multiple watches of six Thin Man films, my mind couldn't possibly conjure up anything different, even where the characterization is different. 

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When you read a book like The Thin Man after seeing the movie in your 'mind's eye' isn't the character Nick, William Powell?  

I read The Thin Man after having seen the movie and I also kept imagining Powell and Loy's characters reciting the dialogue in the book.  It doesn't help that on the cover (at least on the cover of my copy) there's a man on the front (whom I'm assuming is Nick Charles) and he looks exactly like William Powell.

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   It depends on the situation.  Sometimes, I'll already be reading a book or series and then find out that it's going to be turned into a film.  But for the most part, especially with classic films, I'll see the movie version first and then look for the book version afterwards.  It's gotten to the point that whenever I see the credits, I'm always scanning for the original source material.  And 90% of the time, I like the book version much better than the film.  

  Rapid bibliophile that I am, I have three whole lists on Goodreads devoted to films that were adapted from books, especially those that are underrated or have been pushed to the side because of adaptation displacement.  Some of my favorite source books, which I highly recommend, include:

 

"Mildred Pierce" by James M. Cain

"The Story of Esther Costello" by Nicholas Monsarrat

"Come and Get It" by Edna Ferber (one of the best popular authors who is largely unknown to modern audiences)

"The Sign of the Cross" by Wilson Barrett

"Not As a Stranger" by Morton Thompson (okay, I haven't actually read this one yet, but I know that I'm going to like it)

 

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When you read a book like The Thin Man after seeing the movie in your 'mind's eye' isn't the character Nick, William Powell?  

Yes!  I have to be honest, though, I liked the movie better, which is unusual for me.  Nick and Nora seem a little more equal partners in the marriage than in the book. Hammet was a bit of a chauvanist pig (though he was probably just a reflection of his time and his readership).

 

That sort of thing happens a lot, even if I read the book first. For example, in Harry Potter,  I will forever hear McGonigle's lines in Maggie Smith's voice and will always picture Hagrid as Robbie Coltraine. 

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Yes!  I have to be honest, though, I liked the movie better, which is unusual for me.  Nick and Nora seem a little more equal partners in the marriage than in the book. Hammet was a bit of a chauvanist pig (though he was probably just a reflection of his time and his readership).

 

I remarked below that I like movie Nick and Nora better than book Nick and Nora, too -- Nick's eye is the only part of him that wanders in the film, Nora has more to do (although she does get a nice moment of telling Nick off for ignoring her suggestions in the book), and the marriage is a lot more fun.  I do wish they'd left the jigsaw puzzle scene from the book in, though.

 

I often feel like a film adaptation doesn't do as good a job with characterization as the source material, but this is one of the exceptions where I find the characters better developed in the film.  Thank Woody Van Dyke for telling Goodrich and Hackett "less of the mystery, more of the marriage," and thank Goodrich and Hackett for breathing such wonderful life into Nick and Nora.  And then, of course, Myrna Loy and Bill Powell took it from there, and a classic was born.

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I remarked below that I like movie Nick and Nora better than book Nick and Nora, too -- Nick's eye is the only part of him that wanders in the film, Nora has more to do (although she does get a nice moment of telling Nick off for ignoring her suggestions in the book), and the marriage is a lot more fun.  I do wish they'd left the jigsaw puzzle scene from the book in, though.

 

I often feel like a film adaptation doesn't do as good a job with characterization as the source material, but this is one of the exceptions where I find the characters better developed in the film.  Thank Woody Van Dyke for telling Goodrich and Hackett "less of the mystery, more of the marriage," and thank Goodrich and Hackett for breathing such wonderful life into Nick and Nora.  And then, of course, Myrna Loy and Bill Powell took it from there, and a classic was born.

I agree with you and Traceyk.  I read The Thin Man book too and I agree that the movie version is better. Nora is fleshed out more in the film.  In the book, she's more of a background character, whereas in the film, she's a main character along with Nick.  I also liked the Charles' relationship better in the film.  I think the book was more about the detective angle, whereas the film, while including the detective aspects, focused more on the relationship between Powell and Loy.  I really wish Powell and Loy had been married in real life, they seem like such a perfect couple.  I have to say that I've truly enjoyed all 13/14 of their collaborations that I've seen.  One of the all time great movie couples.

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I agree with you and Traceyk.  I read The Thin Man book too and I agree that the movie version is better. Nora is fleshed out more in the film.  In the book, she's more of a background character, whereas in the film, she's a main character along with Nick.  I also liked the Charles' relationship better in the film.  I think the book was more about the detective angle, whereas the film, while including the detective aspects, focused more on the relationship between Powell and Loy.  I really wish Powell and Loy had been married in real life, they seem like such a perfect couple.  I have to say that I've truly enjoyed all 13/14 of their collaborations that I've seen.  One of the all time great movie couples.

I remember reading somewhere that the two of them were so associated as a couple that when they went to San Fancisco to film one of the Thin Man movies (can;t remember which) they were booked into a hotel room as husband and wife--the hotel clerk who did the booking just assumed they were actually married. LOL

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