Which should be experienced first: the book or the movie?

Which should come first?

  • the book
  • the movie

0 voters

I was just thinking about this question about which is the best to do: read the book and then watch the movie or watch the movie and then read the book?

I usually opt to read first and then see the movie because I like taking my time predicting and discovering what will happen next in a story rather than it just happening and also I like creating my own image of the characters in my mind rather than seeing someone else’s interpretation of what they look like. Plus I am addicted to books while I have very little interest in collecting movies.

Seeing the movie first, however, made things that might have been harder to imagine (such as Lord of the Rings) easier because I have an image that can accompany my reading. It also inspires me to read the book. I can think of three cases where this led me to discover an author: High Fidelity by Nick Hornby, The World According to Garp by John Irving, and of course, Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien.

So what are your thoughts on the better one to do first?

I thought The Power of One movie was better than the book and that was definitely a first for me. I tend to read the books first so I have no clue as to which is better.

The book first, because then you can have fun paying attention to/bitching about all the changes and inevitable Hollywood watering-downs. Movies are shorter and less information-rich than books that so much gets left out, which is one reason why the book is almost always superior to the movie (The Godfather one of the few exceptions). If they filmed, say, L.A. Confidential exactly as the novel laid out, the movie would have to stretch out 25 hours to include all the subplots and characters and background that got left out of the 2-hour…uh, what’s the word they call it, “movie-script-i-zation”. Likewise, the Lord of the Rings trilogy could easily be 5 times its current running length, if they stuck closely to Tolkien.

I prefer the other way around, for the same reasons Mucha Man posted - see the movie first and the “OMG that wasn’t in the book” or “they left that bit out!” thoughts don’t ruin it. Then when you read the book, you get a nice surprise at the extra detail and story.

I am mixed on both ways, but while I do enjoy the movies usually, I enjoy reading the story much more. I find the movies a little bit of a letdown after reading the book and thinking “Hey, they left out a part” or “That’s not what he should look like.” Or really getting into a book and in analyzing it and all the details and their significance, only for them to be excluded in the movie. Don’t even get me started on the discrepancies between Holes the book (deservedly given the 1999 Newbery Award for outstanding children’s literature for more reasons than I can name) and Holes the movie (at best a piece of mediocre eyecandy for kids that lost every thing that made me think about its themes, say “Oh my God!” as I made the connections, and feel any kind of emotion and connection with the characters). That very easily could be a book onto itself.

I am of two minds on this. I’m not a fan of the disappointment that comes when I watch my favorite books get mutilated for people who couldn’t be bothered with reading them nor of having some Hollywood casting agent destroying any chance for me to fully imagine what a character could look like as I unfold the story myself without it being the person I saw playing them. Yet, after watching a good movie, it’s nice to read the book and get a better understanding of something that I might have missed when I watched the movie. But if I had to choose an option, I would much prefer to read than to see first.

I quite agree.
But sometimes you could miss out on a great book. American Psycho was a great book and a crappy movie. If I had seen the movie first, I never would have read the book.

I prefer the book first then movie. Reading the book first help to crank the old engine – I have a vivid imagination to begin with. Then comparing my vision to the movie is always entertaining. One can always read the book AGAIN for another mindblowing analysis…WOW.
I read LOTR as a child so the movie was a nice reminder for me to dust off the old books. Most movies are a big disappointment in comparasion to the books. I’m thinking of Queen of the Damned, The English Patient, any Stephen King or Clive Barker books made into movies. Even stories from the Bible are more delicious read than viewed. Haven’t read Harry Potter yet so cannot comment on that one. I can only think of one that I liked both movie and book and that was Like Water for Chocolate.

The feeling I had gotten from watching the first Harry Potter movie when it finally came out was of deja vu for each scene, because that it was exactly how I had envisioned it as I had read the book.

Again, the biggest disappointment by far was seeing Holes the movie after having read the book and falling in love with the original story.

ImaniOU, which did you prefer, High Fidelity the book or the film? Just interested because I loved the book (very useful to give to your girlfriend in order to explain why you are so irrational sometimes), but I REALLY disliked the film. I think it was the fact that the book was very “British” but the movie was so “Americanised” I just couldn’t bear to watch it.

BTW Fever Pitch by Hornby is the best book about football ever written.

There’s no real answer for this one - the two media are so entirely different in what makes them enjoyable experiences, IMO. I just see or read whichever one catches my attention first, and then if it’s a good movie, I might read the book, and if it’s a good book I might then be interested in a movie.

But surprisingly, not always. I loved Big Fish the movie, eyed the book in the shops a couple of times, didn’t really feel the need to read it. And I’ve read a lot of great books which have been made into movies, but haven’t been interested in seeing them, often due to casting choice, previews, etc.

I’ve had this discussion with ImaniOU before, but I read Harry Potter first, and thought the first movie was incredibly dull apart from the ‘oooh’ factor of seeing all the detail lovingly rendered on screen. However, I know all the people wanting a ‘filmed book’ loved it. I wanted a MOVIE, with all its cinematic shorthand in place. And that’s why I think the two can’t really be compared. I love some books and I love some movies… but not for the same reasons.

Heh - I read the book first, and thought exactly the opposite. Loved the movie, hated the book. Low tolerance for brand names, which is all I remember from the book :slight_smile:

One last thing though. For the most part, I refuse to read ‘movie novelizations’, because they’re usually truly plastic.

A quick search came up with



The book is always the better of the two.
Yi wrote:


Wolf wrote [quote]The book is always the better of the two.[/quote]

Always?? C’mon, Wolf! If you really thought that, you’d have fewer porno movies and a lot more porno mags in your library.

I liked * Clint’s Bridges of Madison County but not the book it was based on.

I feel exactly like daasgrrl, you can’t narrow it down to “one way is right, the other is wrong”. And I wouldn’t fully agree with “The book is always the better of the two”. There are a couple of movies I enjoyed enough to make me read the book after seeing them. Some of the books I liked (e.g. A Beautiful Mind, The Lover) and others I hated (Solaris - the movie was absolutely mind-blowing - the book was booooring). Those movies usually didn’t lose anything for me by my reading the book.

On the other hand, I often hesitate to watch a movie that has been made after a book I liked, and then finally go because I’m sort of curious how my favorites that while reading I thought could never be turned into movies are done. Though the movies themselves aren’t usually bad, for me, they generally don’t compare with the books. Some examples would be two of my all-time favorite books, Possession and Smilla’s Sense of Snow as well as two other great books that I liked and during reading considered completely useless for turning them into movies, The House of Spirits and Brother of Sleep. I suppose after watching the movie, you can never fully chase the images from your mind when you read the book again. But they always seem to mingle with the original images I had in my mind before watching the movie, so the original ones are still there (Some movies where I read the book first, then watched the movie and considered the movie about as good as the book were Homo Faber (and not only because of the DS :wink:) and Requiem for a Dream, oh and Shipping News - great book, beautiful movie).

(on a side note: I hate watching “Making ofs”. They tend to ruin the movies for me)

John, John, John…if you jiggle the porno mag you can get a very realistic image…in your head. Just like a film.
Whatever happened to John Holmes?

I loved Contact the movie (Jodie Foster thing), and I liked the book as well. In that case, however, I think I would have been greatly disappointed if I had read the book first and then watched the movie.