Thursday, September 4, 2014

Read the Book ... Watch the Movie ... or Both?

Movies that are based on books—either popular fiction or classic literature—have been made almost since the beginning of the movie industry itself. Over the decades, the approach of directors and screenwriters has changed in response, I imagine, to the perceived tastes of society at large and the movie-going public in particular. 

For example, it was pointed out to me recently that the screenplay for the movie The Maltese Falcon differs from Dashiell Hammett’s book in only one minor scene and character. The cinematic visions of modern movie makers, however, seem to include dialog, plot devices, and even characters not found in their source material.

So all of this lays the foundation for the debate about reading the book before seeing the movie. Is it necessary? Can one fully appreciate the movie without reading the book? Will reading the book first actually detract from one’s appreciation of the movie because of all the changes and/or additions the director and screenwriter have included?

Because we make our reading and viewing decisions based on our own feelings about these things, I encourage everyone to read the book OR watch the movie OR do both and then have a lively discussion with your friends about the differences!

First, a sampling of some classics; how many of you have read the book and seen the movie (in many cases, a number of movies re-made in different decades)?
Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations or A Christmas Carol
Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice
Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre
Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter

Then there are some genre classics:
Daphne DuMaurier’s Rebecca
Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon or The Thin Man
Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express
Arthur C Clarke’s 2001: a Space Odyssey
Joseph Heller’s Catch-22

And finally, newer movies based on contemporary fiction:
Possession by A S Byatt, movie 2002
The Woman in Black by Susan Hill, movie 2012
Labor Day by Joyce Maynard, movie 2014
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel by Deborah Moggach, movie 2011
Life of Pi by Yann Martel, movie 2013

Or even based on works of non-fiction:
The King’s Speech by Mark Logue, movie 2011
The Monuments Men by Robert M Edsel, movie 2014
What you see on the screen will almost never be exactly what you read on the page. If you’re like me, however, you are sure to find enjoyment in both. I’ve been bouncing back and forth between J R R Tolkien’s The Hobbit and Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit all year in anticipation of the final cinematic installment later this year.

Some of the books-to-movies available at your local library
Of course, the titles mentioned above only scratch the surface of what is available. Check out the display at the Warrenton library for inspiration. You will find many more to choose from in the library’s catalog. So, stick with your favorite format or enjoy them both!

Happy reading and/or viewing.
Maryellen @ Warrenton

To learn more about the Fauquier County Public Library's collection, events or programs, visit us on Facebook, Twitter (Kiddosphere twitter is hereor online.

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