Thursday, July 24, 2008

Book your movie, now!

Finally, I'm done.

Surprisingly, it took me just about 3 weeks to finish reading the 'Lord of The Rings'. And incredibly, my biggest complaint, like the author himself mentions in the preceding notes, is that the book was too short. I conveniently finished it on a Friday, so that I could put the LOTR movie marathon over the weekend, which brings me to the question that I have been unable to answer for a while now. So, I'm asking you the same… Based on the many books that have been adapted into cinema, which do you prefer? The book or the movie?

I'm neither a compulsive reader nor an avid movie watcher, even though I'm working towards both and hence, my opinion would really not have any meat in it. There are very few stories that I've read and watched as well. My favourite movie of all time is 'The Shawshank Redemption' and inspired by it, I picked up its source 'Different Seasons' that includes the novella. Stephen King is a fantastic writer, but I still prefer the movie. The prison, the escape, the main protagonist.. Everything appealed to me a lot more in the movie. On the other hand, the movie versions of the Harry Potter series have been a terrible disappointment. The movies seemingly limited my imagination and made the books far less enjoyable. Voldemort was way scarier in my head, Hermione was much less hotter. I feel that books and stories about school are best read, because you tend to imagine them in your old campus and classrooms. As much as I love the books, the Harry Potter movies are at the least avoidable.

A very rare case, where I like both the book and the movie immensely was ‘To Kill a Mocking Bird’. Easily, one of the best books I have ever read, the book was inspiring and thoughtful. But the movie was brilliant too. Atticus Fitch seemed to have been created to be played by Gregory Peck. This is the only case, where I have been unable to choose one over the other. The movie and the book, brilliant! The Godfather has been a queer case for me. More than one friend has advised me against reading the book since I have already watched the movie. I have read other books by Mario Puzo, but I haven't got to The Godfather yet. The reason? Quite frankly, I didn't like the movie. I like the genre, but something about the movie turned me off. So on one hand, there are several brilliant movies that I don't want to read the book versions of - Jurassic Park, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Sorry, but chocolate has to be seen). And books that I don't want to watch movies of - 1984, Apt Pupil, et al. And horror stories? I try to keep away from both the books as well as the movies.

And I'm not yet done thinking up questions. Just in case a story is good enough to be experienced in both formats, what should one do? Read the book or watch the movie first? Or should one skip either? And is it ok for movie directors to skip some parts of the story or tweak with the plot for their convenience? Characters being left out, new ones introduced... What about all that?

Coming back to the Lord of the Rings - I loved the movies, they are simply brilliant. Yet, I was very apprehensive about reading the book. But enough and more free time at my office motivated me to attempt reading it and frankly I am glad I did so. For the past 3 weeks, Frodo, Sam and the others have been in my head constantly. Yes, I knew how the story went, but the book was a great pleasure to read. And one has to appreciate J.R.R Tolkien for the level of detailing that this epic tale encompasses. And more so, Peter Jackson deserves applause for staying (almost) true to the book.

(Whew! For all the hyperlinking!)


Unknown said...

Ey...why not the movie of The Apt Pupil? Seems good enough..

Anonymous said...

Hmm lot of people said the same thing about the Harry Potter movies. I find myself an exception, but not too happy about it. Cause I consider myself way too imaginative and am still able to like what the movie gave me instead of holding it against what I had in my head.

Yet to catch up with mocking bird movie and LOTR book. Agree with you on Shawshank Redemption though havent read the book.

To your question on books or movies, I'd choose books; esp if you are the kind who likes to run a motion picture of all the characters inside yout head when you read.

I just happened to read the Godfather recently and did a review here. And no, I didnt find the book appealing though I give it a lot of respect.

Anonymous said...

"Just in case a story is good enough to be experienced in both formats, what should one do? Read the book or watch the movie first? Or should one skip either?"

If in doubt, read the book first! all the time! :) ...even in your case with the Shawshank Redemption, me wondering if you would have felt a teeny-weeny bit different about the book if you had got to it before you got to the movie!

"Atticus Fitch seemed to have been created to be played by Gregory Peck."

Shouldn't it be the other way around? :P ....Atticus for long remained the closest I had to a superhero!..but on subsequent readings of the book, and watching the movie again just last week, there are these new shades to him which keep cropping up....too much to explain here, maybe in XL.. ;)

PS1: super post!

PS2: apologies for an unintentional anonymous comment to the last post! :P

- JoJo

Sands | കരിങ്കല്ല് said...

try "Silence of the lambs" -- book and movie.. both are good.


PS: Nothing more about Hermione -- I have a crush on her! :)

Anonymous said...

books anyday!

esp if you are the kind who likes to run a motion picture of all the characters inside yout head when you read.

i second this comment!

also, after reading the book, you can arm yourself with a lot of abuses and use them with relish against the director....afterall, critisizing million$/movie hollywood directors is our forte :) :)

Anonymous said...


i actually visited your blog hoping to read the 'dark knight' review.
when will that be??!!!

i plan on watching it 2 more times..
i am not working, back to shop lifting, 5 rupee chaat munching, pavement books shopping avataar...and YET, i dont mind watching this movie just to gaze adoringly at the guy who's got a bad hair day.

catching the eve shows. paying 130 bucks...
i am not joking!
(pun most certainly intended)

Pappul said...

You can give Memento, Silence of the Lambs and Inside Man a shot (of course if you have not seen them already). For a similar prison of an experience, you can try the TV series Prison Break ... Cheers ... !!

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