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Sunday, January 7, 2007

Movies & Books

Charlotte's Web is in theatres and Camille wants to go see it. We haven't read the book yet so I've been contemplating whether to see it in the theatre before we read the book or read the book and catch it on video. Who am I kidding? We'll probably own this movie.

My indecision comes from wanting to enhance her imagination as much as possible. TV/Movies doesn't utilize the imagination, the work is all done- here it is on the screen. Of course we all know that when we read a book before seeing the movie adaptation we can formulate in our minds (imagination) how the character looks based on the author's description. Movies/TV take that away, an actor's face is in our minds as we read. Can you read Gone With The Wind without picturing Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable?

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is another example, when we read this will there be doubt that the book is wrong? Since the movie was seen first, will the book be deemed as boring? This is something I have struggled with as a reader, I prefer to read the book before the movie because I cannot get the actors out of my head! : ) In fact there are very few movies that I've watched that when I read the book first I was satisfied with. For example, An Unfinished Life by Mark Spragg was a good book and the tone was important to the story. The movie satisfied my reading experience with the exception of Jennifer Lopez. Although she acted the part wonderfully, I didn't picture HER as Jean. However, movies like Message in the Bottle have me talking to the screen, "You left this and this out!"

I'm currently reading The Iliad and while I have seen the movie Troy before, I didn't fully understand what was happening the whys behind it. I'm within the last chapters of The Iliad and I decided to watch Troy. I haven't pictured Brad Pitt or Orlando Bloom as Achilles or Paris, my imaginary versions are much more grander. I found myself again saying to the screen, "Not only did you leave this and this out, but you changed the plot! This war was 10 years! Helen loved her countrymen! Where is Zeus? Hera? Athena?" The book is so much BETTER! Of course, how could a movie compete with Homer?

The main reason I wanted to watch Troy was to understand a little better the fighting techniques that I'm reading about. I wanted to have a clearer understanding of the armor and the chariots. Now I do have to say that Eric Bana as Hector fits very well how I envision Hector but his character in the movie is a lot different than the book. I can say that this is one movie and book that the characters I envision are stronger than those of the movie, therefore the movie doesn't ruin my reading experience. Movies have politics, the screenwriters and directors manipulate the scenes to evoke feelings, attitudes and prejudices. Books are you and the author- you get to be the screenwriter, the author the director.

Read then screen. Talk about the differences. In fact, there is a book called Talking Pictures- A Parents' Guide to Using Movies to Discuss Ethics, Values, and Everyday Problems with Children. by Ronald Madison, Ed.D. and Corey Schmidt. Read the book, watch the movie adaptation and discuss!



Becky LaMere said...

I always have my kids read the book before they can see a movie too. I'm reading Charlotte's Web right now to my youngest two because they've never heard it.
I'm also reading Prince Caspian aloud to them all because I know they're making that movie right now.

Mrs. "M" said...

I usually read the book first. We did do see Charlotte's Web and it was worh it to me. We read the book last spring. The one exception for me is some types of fantasy. I would probably never read The Lord of the Rings until after the movie because that kind of fantasy is not my thing. Now that I have an overview and do have faces to picture I can probably get through it. And more enjoy it because I have a frame work for my brain to work from. I am not good at imagining the non concrete. Like talking trees LOL!Sounds lame....I know. My husband says the books are way better and I am sure he's right :o)

Judy Aron said...

95% of the time we read the book first before seeing the movie, and my kids much prefer it that way. They say they want to read the book first and then see what the movie has left out. Sometimes with the hype of a new movie it spurs them on to read the book.
My husband just recently read Eragon because he wanted to read the book before seeing the movie as well.
I think it's a good practice.
It's good to get your imagination in gear instead of having it hijacked by someone else's interpretations.

Anonymous said...

I personally enjoy reading first. I am a highly visual person so it is hard to see the movie first because I cannot erase the images and form my own. When I was teaching public school, we would first read classics (Charlie & the Choc Factory, Matilda, Madaline...)then after watching the films we would do Venn Diagrams and writing projects with the comparisons.

BTW, my ds4 and I just finished the audio version of Charlotte's Web... wonderful! It was read by EB White himself! Bonus


Anonymous said...

We always read the book first then see the movie. Case in point, my oldest daughter and I read Eragon together (earlier - we are reading Eldest now) and we went to see the movie together today : )

In my opinion, a movie is like reading a translation - most of the time it's okay but it is much better to read it in the original b/c many times the translator(movie producer/screenwriter) completely misses the point!


Anonymous said...

We *used* to have a Book-Before-Movie rule. We don't anymore, because there's no point. My Bigs (12, 10, 8) practically refuse to watch a movie before reading the book, and in the case of some beloved books, refuse to watch the movie lest it "ruin the pictures in my head" as now 10yo dd said.