I read an interesting post on Book Blob yesterday about books and their movie adaptations. The author of the post asked if it was better to read the book before watching its movie, or if it was okay to see the movie first.
My gut reaction was that of a purist–book first, allowing you to read and interpret the author’s story for yourself, rather than watching someone else’s interpretation. Then you can go to the theater and yell at the screen every time a change in the plot is made (while your fellow movie goers are giving you the stink eye because no, they did not read the book first and have no clue what you are yelling about).
But plot isn’t the only consideration. There are the characters themselves. You’ve formed an image in your mind of their appearance and mannerisms. And then these Hollywood faces appear, replacing those of your imagination. Sometimes the casting can be so off-putting that I spend half the movie wondering who in the heck was in charge of it and what they were thinking (and that they obviously did NOT read the book first). And sometimes for the movie’s entirety, if that movie is Cold Mountain. Nicole Kidman, seriously? Her character, Ada Monroe, is consistently described in the book as having beautiful thick dark hair, and is in her very early 20′s. Not 30 something with blonde hair and a terrible fake Southern accent.
However, after all that, I think something can be said for seeing the film first. Not only will you spare your companions the constant prattle of “Can you believe that? They just skipped over the most important part!”, but you might be able to enjoy the movie in its own right, separate from the book. After all, it is an adaptation. (But I’ll never be able to accept the way the Cold Mountain adaptation changed Inman’s final stand off with the blue-eyed boy of the Home Guard)
What do you think? Which should come first, the book or the movie?