I generally have a policy. I think I’ve written about it here, but I couldn’t find an old post to link back to, so I’ll just repeat myself. It’s a policy about books and movies that represents my viewpoint well.
First, the viewpoint: I am not a purist. I believe that books and movies are totally different forms of media, and thus details might change, plot points might be altered some, and other things will be left out entirely. I don’t hold a filmmaker to exacting standards of sameness, but I do want the same feeling to come across.
So my policy that I generally keep to honor the difference between a book and a movie is not to read (or re-read) a book right before a movie comes out. I like to give myself several months, at least 6 usually, for the details to become fuzzy. That way when I’m watching a movie, I’m not plagued with the “injustices” of the changes. I don’t find myself thinking, “They met in the winter. It was at a Christmas party! That was so important to their relationship. Why are they on a beach???”
In fact, if a movie comes out, and it’s based on a book that I haven’t read but the whole thing sounds interesting, I don’t usually rush to read the book first. And if a movie comes out based on one of my favorite books, I don’t generally feel the need to reread the “real” story before seeing the movie.
After interviewing Markus Zusak, author of The Book Thief, in anticipation of the movie’s release, and being sent on a expenses-paid trip to interview some of the cast and production crew of the movie, I’ve been talking about it a lot. I had only finally read the Book Thief a couple of months ago, right before my interview with the author, and my friend who had read it ages ago kept saying “I probably need to reread it.” I sort of disagreed with her and was thinking “No, don’t ruin it! Just let it happen as a movie!”
But then I saw the movie, with the lovely background of the book still fairly fresh in my mind, and I found myself thinking “Were those exact words in the book?” in a good way, not a critical way (like if they weren’t, they certainly could’ve been!). But I also appreciated knowing more than what they could fit into a two hour movie.
When I was looking back for my post about my “strict policy,” I did find my post about rereading Hunger Games before I watched the movie. Aside from The Book Thief movie, this was probably the movie that was tied in with a book that I was most anticipating. Rereading my post I see that, I appreciated the 2nd look at the book I remembered before seeing the movie.
So maybe my policy has changed? Or maybe these two movies and books were both strong enough to uphold the scrutiny?
I want to hear from you. Leave me a comment and tell me if you like to reread favorite books before seeing the movie. What are some of the good book to film adaptations that you’ve seen?
You should also check out my post about finally reading the Book Thief to get your chance to win a copy of that book.