How To Watch a Movie When You've Read the Book
Hey, hey friends. Is the book-to-movie trend getting you down? Do you feel sad when you’ve read the book and the movie just doesn’t compare? Are you still reeling from a certain character’s absence (e-hem, Madge Undersee)? Let Bookmans help. We developed a fool proof step-by-step program to avoid cinematic disappointment after watching a movie when you’ve read the book. You can like both. The practice of adapting novels to film makes it almost impossible for bookish movie goers to see a movie based on a book they haven’t already read. Sometimes the movie version of a beloved book thrills our inner fan and sometimes it overwhelmingly disappoints. Once you’ve imagined the characters, setting and the entire world of a book, opening up to the imaginings of others gets dicey. We get it; we understand this hardship. You can take steps to prevent feeling let down. Bookmans will help you move on because, let’s face it, the page-to-screen trend will never die because book writers tell the best stories. Follow these guidelines and you will once again enjoy the theatrical experience.
It is just a movie. If you find yourself upset with the movie version, simply remember that this isn’t the only version of that story. You still have the book. A disappointing movie does not diminish the experience you had when you first read the novel. Keira Knightley is not the only Lizzie Bennet just like Keanu Reeves is not the only John Constantine. You will always have the book, which we all know is perfect.
You don’t have to read the book first:
Sometimes this is unavoidable and, by all means, if you find the story interesting read it. But it’s okay to see the movie before reading the novel. Why? Because the book is ALWAYS better. So what if you saw the film first but then discovered it was a book, which then became a much loved favorite? For example, let’s say back in 2010 you saw a kids’ movie titled Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lighting Thief. You like the film because it features Greek mythology and you always wanted to go to summer camp when you were a kid. Later you discover the film is based off of a series of books, so you decide to read those books. In so doing, you become a full-fledged Percy Jackson fanatic. You own all the books of both series, sport a Camp Half-blood T-shirt on the register and offer “Demigod Discounts” to anyone buying a Percy Jackson or Heros of Olympus novel. Isn’t that a good thing? Discovering something you love? Don’t sweat it if you can’t find the time to read a novel before the film. Read the book after watching the movie and you will most likely love both.
Some things don’t translate on film:
First person narrative is incredibly hard to get away with onscreen. Think Bella Swan in the Twilight movies. We all got a little sick of Kristen Stewart’s voice. It’s understandable when a director changes the narrative from the protagonist talking to the audience to describing the summer of 1922 to their therapist. Telepathy also does not work on film. Two characters sharing a dialog through the power of their minds makes sense in a book. On film they stare at each other awkwardly with an echo-y voice over. Try to understand when Thomas and Teresa don’t use psychic powers brought on by experiments to “check in” in The Maze Runner. Sometimes movie success is based on different metrics and our protagonist has to be older in the theater than in the book. The movie reaches a larger audience and hey, if the Lois Lowry is behind Jonas being 16 rather then 12, we can get on board too.
Avoid re-reading a book right before you see the movie:
A break between finishing a novel and seeing it in theaters is a good thing. Re-reading will only cement your version of the story and lead to disappointment when it isn’t exactly your vision on screen. Give yourself a few months in between reading and viewing to let your book hangover settle.
Expect the cuts:
The average film is about an hour-and-a-half to two-and-a-half hours long. A book has to be more than 40,000 words to be considered a novel. That’s a big difference. Outside of speed readers we’d expect it to take more than four hours to read that many words from start to finish. That’s twice the amount of read time to film time for an easy read novel. Of course things have to be cut. There simply isn’t enough time to fit in every character, plot twist or bit of dialogue. Often the results feel rushed and there isn’t enough deliberation on the part of characters to justify their actions. But think of it this way, a movie by necessity is shorter than a book. That’s okay.
Know that the film will give the author a new audience:
Many times the audiences learn of an authors through movies based on their books. That’s a good thing! We want success for our favorite authors so that they will write more and we can geek out with more people. Be happy that others are being introduced to good writing.
Don’t hate on the non-bookish movie goers:
It is frustrating to hear “Hunger Games, 3” instead of “Mockingjay” or to explain, “That is not how it happened in the book.” People’s lack of understanding when it comes to source material can make you want to crawl inside your reading nook and just be with your books. Books get you. There is another way. Explain gently that the book gives more — more story, more character, more everything. Instead of a great movie ending too soon, people can live in that world for hours more by reading the book.
We hope you find these tips helpful. If you still have trouble coping, find comfort at Bookmans. We have comfy chairs and books. Together with the right beverage will vanquish any woe.
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