After I’ve read a book and become vested in the characters, I’m often curious to see how they are portrayed in the movie, and how the story plays out on the screen. Do the characters look how I imagined them to look? Is the setting how I saw it in my mind? I hate it when the movie fails to do the book justice, and this is often the case. It’s one of the reasons I rarely watch a movie first and then get the book. For me, some of the mystery and intrigue found in a book is lost on the big screen.
When I read The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, which took me 2 attempts (the first 100 pages are a brutal slog) I loved it and wanted to watch the movie. I watched the Swedish version with English subtitles, and the movie jumps about, especially at the beginning. Without knowing the story first, I’d have been lost. The parts about Millennium magazine and the libel case against Mikael Blomkvist, which the books labors over painfully for the first 100 pages, are skimped on in the movie, yet without it, the story is hard to follow. The story has a huge cast, which I found complicating in the movie, but less so because I’d read the book first and knew who they were.
Anne Frank’s diary is a gripping read and a heartbreaking film. Nothing is lost in either. However, often there are key elements in a book that are dropped in a movie, or adapted for the audience enjoyment, and it spoils the experience. I’m so focused on the missing bits, I lose interest.
Occasionally, the movie/book works in reverse. I’m not into fantasy, but I once bought a box set of Lord Of The Rings for a gift, and then borrowed it out of curiosity. What a fantastic story. I know I’ll never read the book, but I loved the movie. The visual effects were a large part of the enjoyment – they don’t exist in the book, and I couldn’t even begin to imagine them. The same with Jane Eyre. I enjoyed the film, and the romance (surprisingly), but I’ll never read the book. This is one of the films where the movie omits part of the story found in the book (I’m told). In this case, it was okay – I can only take so much romance.
Sometimes, neither the book or the movie works. I might be one of a few people who haven’t read Harry Potter. I can’t get into it at all. I tried to watch one of the movies – no idea which one, but it involved broomsticks. I gave up after ten minutes. Hated it.
Then there’s this nonsense of Tom Cruise playing Jack Reacher. I loved Jack Reacher. Tom Cruise will spoil my image and my enjoyment of the books, so I won’t bother with the movie.
We’d all love to see our own books on the big screen…wouldn’t we? Or are the pictures in our heads better? What are your thoughts?