I’m an avid reader. I always have a book to read. I think the longest time I’ve spent between finishing one book and starting another is 2 or 3 days.
I like watching movies, too. After a day of working and an evening with the kids, there’s nothing better than spending a couple of hours “decompressing” in front of a TV screen.
Sometimes, these two things become intertwined, for there are plenty of movies out there in the world that are based on a book.
For years and years, I’ve been of the opinion that, if a movie is a based on a book, I should read the book first. It’s taken me 38 years to realize that this, in my humble, vacuous opinion, has been a mistake.
The beginnings of this conclusion began with Harry Potter. I had no interest in reading Sorcerer’s Stone when it first came out. I had glanced at it in the bookstore and immediately put it down when I saw the word “wizard.” I’ve never been able to really get into books with wizards, trolls, elves, orcs, etc. (However, I WILL read The Lord of the Rings before I die. I’ve been trying to read those books since I was 16, but that’s a completely different story.)
In 2003, my family saw the movie Sorcerer’s Stone. And we loved it. We bought that movie and Chamber of Secrets and we loved that one too. I was sold. We bought the books and I began reading them to my daughter. When the movie version of Prisoner of Azkaban came out, we had already read that book. When we saw the movie, we were disappointed. We didn’t enjoy it as much as the previous 2 movies. So much had been left out of the story. At the time, it was easy to blame it on the change of directors. Chris Columbus directed the first 2 movies. Alfonso Cuaron directed the third. Every Potter film as initially been disappointing, but after subsequent viewings they have become more enjoyable.
More recently, there were the movies Hostage and Gone Baby Gone. I really enjoyed the books, but as for the movies……not so much.
Which brings me to The Ruins. The Ruins is a 2008 horror film. The DVD looked promising, but I didn’t have high hopes because a) I had never heard of it before and b) it’s a horror film. Typically, those two in conjunction with another is a recipe for bad. But I borrowed it from the library and was surprised at how good it actually was. To be clear, this will never be a classic and it won’t win any type of award or anything, but it was pretty good (and graphic) for what it was.
A few weeks later, I was at the library again and I saw a book called The Ruins. It jumped out at me because I recently saw the movie. As I read the description, I thought it sounded WAY too much like the movie to be a coincidence. A quick check of the DVD box confirmed that the movie was based on the book. Screenplay for the movie was done by the book’s author. So I checked out the book and read it. It was a pretty darn, good book.
Now, the thing is, this is a book I would never have read. In fact, if I knew the movie was based on the book, I don’t think I would have ended up seeing the movie knowing what the book was about. And if, by some chance, I did read the book before seeing the movie, I would not have liked the movie (for there were many, many changes).
So…the movie (which I enjoyed) helped me enjoy the book as well. Had I read the book first, the best scenario would have been that I liked the book but hated the movie.
So, my long standing rule is changing. When it comes to movies based on books, I will see the movie before reading the book. Maybe that will help me get through The Lord of the Rings. Although…I have attempted to watch Fellowship of the Ring about 8 times and still can’t make it through without getting completely confused.