It has been a common practice for Hollywood to turn to books for their next great movie project in the last few years. For every Harry Potter or Hunger Games that gets chosen to go from page to screen, you have to wonder if studios really can’t come up with their own ideas without falling back on authors, who are creating and publishing books daily, as their main source for an original story. Sometimes, the books’ movie counterparts wind up being a critical success at the box office, or they flop spectacularly. There’s really no magic formula to predict which adaptation will get a favorable response from audiences. It’s really the luck of the draw. Whether you’re for or against books being turned into films, one good thing to come out of Hollywood’s interest in the written word come to life is getting those same audience members to pick up and read the book the movie is based on, if they haven’t already.
Some book lovers or original source purists may scoff at the notion of watching a movie first before reading the book. Oftentimes, the book will almost always be much better than the film and it’s not difficult to understand why. Inner thoughts and dialogue flows better in a book than in a movie. There’s no restriction on how much we get to know the characters in a story through their development and backstory. Films usually have to condense or eliminate some aspect of the details for pacing and timing purposes. Or in some cases, endings of books get tweaked slightly for the film version for a variety of reasons. This is why book to movie adaptations can be tricky because not everyone will be pleased with the changes that need to be made, or it doesn’t live up to the vision readers have in their head of how a character or place should look like. But as much as some of us want to make an effort to read the book first before seeing the movie, it isn’t always possible.
Director Ava DuVernay’s A Wrinkle in Time, coming out later this week, is adapted from Madeleine L’Engle’s beloved children’s novel. While many may have fond memories of reading the book as a kid, I do not. I didn’t really appreciate the joy of reading books until I was in junior high, which means I missed out on a lot of classic books growing up. Not to mention some of these classics never made it into my mandatory reading list for school.
I have always known about L’Engle’s book, but the desire to read it didn’t become so great until I saw trailers for DuVernay’s movie and the star-studded cast attached to the film. I recently purchased A Wrinkle in Time on Amazon with the intention of reading the book before the movie releases. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to read the book before the movie’s March 9th opening. Between busy schedules and not finishing my current book fast enough, I’ll be watching the movie first and then reading the book. This isn’t the first time this happened to me.
I watched A Walk to Remember, The Notebook, Howl’s Moving Castle, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, The Fault in Our Stars, Warm Bodies, and many others like these before I ever picked up the original books. But what all these movies have in common is that I read every single one of these books after having seen the movie. Aside from being an avid reader, I’m a big movie watcher. Usually when I see a movie I really adore and I know it’s based on a book, I always want to read the book to see how the original story unfolds. Naturally when you watch the movie first before reading the book, it can kind of taint your reading experience. Rather than come into a book with your own imagination of what you think the characters or place look like, you’ll reconstruct parts of the movie as you’re reading it. There’s a reason why there might be a benefit to coming into a book with fresh eyes and a clear imagination.
There are times I wish I was able to create the characters in my own mind without the influence of a film already being linked to the book in some way. Yet, even though I may be reading a book for the first time with the movie adaptation already eliminating any reason to use my imagination to a certain extent, at least it’s motivating a moviegoer like me to read a book I may not have thought to read myself. Films can also be a surprising source to create your next batch of must-reads to buy or borrow from your local library.
I can’t begin to count how many times I’ve discovered a book because of a movie I watched. There are way too many great books out there some of us haven’t heard of or learned about yet. When a movie is made because of the book it only makes my interest in reading it that much higher. I also like being able to compare the book with a movie, even after I’ve seen the film first. I always expect a movie to be vastly different from the book and manage to separate the two from each other and appreciate them individually. No book to movie adaptation will be 100% perfect, but it’s pretty close. And when you’re fortunate enough to read a book before it becomes a film, it’s hard not to want to see those same characters and world you fell in love with come alive right before your very eyes.
Did a book to movie adaptation make you interested in reading the book? Which ones have you read because of the film?