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Filmspotting Message Boards => No Movie Talk Allowed => Idle Chatter => Topic started by: JakeIsntFake on May 12, 2016, 09:58:23 PM

Title: Which first: Book or film?
Post by: JakeIsntFake on May 12, 2016, 09:58:23 PM
For you readers or otherwise, where do you stand? When you prepare to watch a film adaptation of a literary work, or, before you read a book that has an adaptation to film, what goes through your mind? Which comes first?

For me, this isn't any sort of question of "which medium do I have a special proclivity towards at the time," but merely which process allows me to be the most unaffected in my analysis of both works. I've chosen "movie first" because the combination of the time and imagination dedicated to reading a novel doesn't compare to the brief running time and offered images of a film.

Title: Re: Which first: Book or film?
Post by: DarkeningHumour on May 12, 2016, 10:36:21 PM
I do make a qualitative distinction. I like books better. I also think the original material should be given priority generally, at least in those instances where I intend to get to both. There are many books that have been adapted that I have no intention of reading though. It's a good thing because otherwise I would find myself with very little to peruse from.
Title: Re: Which first: Book or film?
Post by: Paul Phoenix on May 12, 2016, 10:41:12 PM
Neither. Be it a movie adaptation of a book, or a book adaptation of a movie, what goes through my mind is usually how good the story is told in the medium - book or movie. The original material is usually a hindsight that I try to separate from the adaptation.
Title: Re: Which first: Book or film?
Post by: Teproc on May 13, 2016, 02:28:57 AM
Theoretically, the book should always come first, assuming the film is an adaptation : 2001 comes to mind as an example where the film and the book are related but neither is an adaptation of the other.

Of course that's theoretical because reading books is a lot longer than seeing a film, so in reality I don't let it stop me.
Title: Re: Which first: Book or film?
Post by: verbALs on May 13, 2016, 03:02:03 AM
Given the horrific experience I had with the film of Jane Eyre; which had no noticeable effect on the ecstatic experience I had with the book of Jane Eyre, then I'd press the "no difference" button. Should one appear.  :D
Title: Re: Which first: Book or film?
Post by: Teproc on May 13, 2016, 03:18:57 AM
The question isn't "which one is better" though. That wouldn't make much sense. It's "which do you generally want to experience first ?".
Title: Re: Which first: Book or film?
Post by: Paul Phoenix on May 13, 2016, 03:21:50 AM
The question isn't "which one is better" though. That wouldn't make much sense. It's "which do you generally want to experience first ?".

The one that would be most entertaining for me. Hence by extension, the 'better' story. So yes, it makes much sense.
Title: Re: Which first: Book or film?
Post by: verbALs on May 13, 2016, 05:38:06 AM
If a film is coming out, I wouldn't then try to read the book first. I can't think of a reason for doing that.

I think one conclusion from intensive film watching is to try to seperate the versions as much as is reasonable. Another conclusion I share with Miss Sandy is that any new version builds on the intrinsic tale. So even a bad version should give a new perspective.  Though the film of Jane Eyre really tests that corollary.
Title: Re: Which first: Book or film?
Post by: Jacek on May 13, 2016, 07:06:28 AM
I had the same approach as DarkeningHumour in that I thought that if a film is adapted from a book, the book should have a higher priority. This way you can see what choices the director/screenwriter made. But after some time, I've noticed that this is exactly the problem. Books are usually more expansive, because films are limited to more or less 2 hours. So when you watch a film, you can mostly analyze what was subtracted from the story and why so you are often getting a less rich version of the story. But when you watch the movie first, you can have the reverse effect of the film's world opening up to something much richer. Which is why I changed my approach ;)
Title: Re: Which first: Book or film?
Post by: DarkeningHumour on May 13, 2016, 07:20:34 AM
I've heard this before but I don't buy it. There is an inherent charm to the first time you discover a story and I would rather preserve it for the book. Things like the death of a main character or a consequential revelation, for instance, only deliver their full power when you are not expecting them. These are the most glaring examples but I think it is true for the small things too.

There is also another point that is related to that. If you watch the adaptation first, you end up sort of list-checking the events as you turn the pages and you might even become a bit oblivious to the writing style. Because it takes hours to read a full book as opposed to the couple of hours the adaptation traditionally takes, this effect is greater  when you are transitioning from the visual medium to the written word.
Title: Re: Which first: Book or film?
Post by: verbALs on May 13, 2016, 07:59:43 AM
The phrase "become oblivious to the writing style" isn't something I can equate with reading. The process of reading that is. Also any surprise if its intrinsic to the enjoyment of the book means it aint much of a book.
Title: Re: Which first: Book or film?
Post by: oldkid on May 13, 2016, 09:29:38 AM
I usually choose one medium or another.  Because a book often has the details that I prefer, if I experience both versions, I will watch the movie first, because if the book it different (and it will be) then I won't be disappointed in the movie.  The movie gives visuals the book only hints at; the book gives thoughts and plots the movie doesn't express.
Title: Re: Which first: Book or film?
Post by: MartinTeller on May 13, 2016, 09:39:40 AM
If a film is coming out, I wouldn't then try to read the book first.

This. I have never done that. In fact... now that I think of it, there are very few times when I've seen a movie and it made me want to go read the book. The Trial is a notable exception. It's one of my favorite movies and the book (and all of Kafka) is now one of my favorite books.

But that's a rare case. So to answer the poll question, I guess in cases where I've experienced both, the book usually comes first. And a book is more likely to make me want to see the movie than vice versa.

Also any surprise if its intrinsic to the enjoyment of the book means it aint much of a book.

This too. Surprise can be a key element to a reading experience, but if the book is written well, then surprise won't be the ONLY element that makes it worth reading. I feel that "spoilers" are much more likely to sour a viewing experience than a reading one.
Title: Re: Which first: Book or film?
Post by: verbALs on May 13, 2016, 09:47:24 AM
The Trial is so fine so admirable so well written. I have his anthology sitting there staring me out. Can't wait to get to Mrtamorphisis and The Castle. I'm kinda saving them as a treat.
Title: Re: Which first: Book or film?
Post by: DarkeningHumour on May 13, 2016, 09:49:58 AM
The Trial is a mess. Literally.