Monday, January 16, 2012

Watching the movie before reading the book

It's always a hard call for me: do I read the book first or watch the movie? If I read the book first, I'm the better writer. You know, the one who cares more about literature than the quick fix a movie will give me.

But if I watch the movie first, I potentially save myself from spending two hours muttering under my breath:

"The author captured that way better."
"Why did they cut that scene?!"
"What was the screenwriter smoking?"

There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to deciding book vs. movie, or TV series as the case may be. For instance, I've read several books in The Walking Dead series. However, I started them so long ago that I don't remember them with the clarity I once did. So the TV series makes me re-read the books and I get to enjoy them again.

This question comes up because I received the first four books in the Game of Thrones collection for Christmas. The temptation is to read them all. Why not? But a friend who has read the first one warned me that I may be disappointed if I read them all before season two starts.

So for now, I'll try to stick with the first one, and read the next three books as their respective seasons end. What do you think? Do you have rules on this sort of thing?


  1. Generally I'd say movie first, assuming they're both good. I'm definitely one to complain when the movie doesn't measure up to the book, which is frequently the case.

    The Watchmen adaption certainly doesn't even come close to the source material. There's no metatext at all; just a slavish recreation of the basic building blocks of the comic. It doesn't add anything to the original work, which to me is the key.

  2. That's a great point about adding to the original work, Bret. I've heard some fans of The Walking Dead complain about how the TV show strays from the graphic novels. I think a lot of the changes have added to the original story. But I digress.