Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Book to Film Adaptations - An Argument for Seeing the Movie First


Perhaps I’m a lazy YA paranormal fantasy fan. Actually, for many years I was in graduate school and was so busy working that when I finally had time to read for fun, I had to make it count. First of all, I couldn’t deal with anything too heady or emotional – that’s what I was trying to get away from. I was looking for a sure thing.

I remember going to see Twilight, not even knowing what it was about, but knowing it was popular. The movie was okay, but I thought – I bet the book will be good. I was right. It filled my needs at the time – I wanted a light, paranormal fantasy story with some fun romance in it. The bonus for me was, because I’d seen the movie, I had a good idea what I was getting. It also meant there would be more detail, extra plot lines and more complexity – another bonus!

Besides, my intense life begged for no big surprises. Has it ever happened to you that you get so into a book that the story and characters affect your mood and emotions? Definitely happens to me. I remember staying up until almost four in the morning, desperate to finish the last Harry Potter book, because I couldn’t stand not knowing if Harry was going to die. Maybe I’m a little obsessive.

The Deathly Hallows was one I read before the movie came out. I was glad I didn’t have to wait for the movie, but when it finally did come out, it was a little spoiled for me. Besides the fact that it was split into two movies, I found myself having an inner commentary about certain actors’ ability to portray the character as it was written, waiting for certain things to happen, and yes, enjoying the details they got right in sets and see what I mean. Watching the movie at that point is more of an intellectual experience.

The same goes for the rest of the Twilight Saga. I read all the books right away after I watched the first movie, and then as each subsequent movie came out, I not only knew what was coming in the film, I also had all the distracting back story about the actors rising fame and celebrity antics. All of this pulls me out of the fantasy, and ultimately that’s why I’m there. Was I still excited – of course! But it wasn’t the same.

On the other hand, it doesn’t seem to be as much of a problem for me knowing what is coming in the book. Perhaps it’s because there is enough newness in the narrative that it keeps that busy mind occupied. When I watch the movie first I tend to picture the actors when I read rather than creating my own images, like Clary and Jace in Mortal Instruments are always Lily Collins and Jamie Campbell Bower in my head, though I feel sure if I’d read the books first, I would’ve thought one or both were bad fits for the characters.

On occasion, however, there are times that in spite of the movie’s best effort, my own imagination and the author’s descriptions will begin to turn me away from the Hollywood image. I would add Edward from Twilight, Hermione from Harry Potter to that list.

I didn’t mention two of the biggest adaptations that are out more currently: 

  • Hunger Games (read whole series first) 
  • Divergent (saw movie – haven’t read!). 
  • Looking forward to: Fallen (in production) (read whole series)

Coming soon: Movie adaptations that totally missed the mark. (feel free to get the ball rolling on that one now in the comments!)

Your turn:
  • How do you deal with adaptations? Book first? Movie first?
  • Any favorite adaptations in the paranormal fantasy genre you want to mention?

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