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Opinion: Is It Important to Read the Book Before You See The Movie?

A battle rages in the realm of Twitter. A simple Tweet led to an onslaught of messages surround the above question. Here’s the original tweet:

@KatyOneill: it ruffles my feathers when people don’t read the book before they see the movie.

Personally, I think that’s ridiculous. Books are books. Movies are movies. They are two completely different mediums and should be looked at as such. Just because a movie is based on a book, doesn’t mean that the book is the be all end all of that story. Every single work ever conceived is loosely based on another work. Writers are influenced by other published works, in addition to everyday life experiences. If the logic above holds, I would conclude that one must read ever single piece of published work before seeing any movies. Should we be forced to read comic books because certain directors draw from them? Should we read poetry because other directors draw inspiration there?

The answer is no. Movies can stand on their own. I am the #1 preacher for this because I’m not a huge reader. Yet, somehow, without the miracles of modern science, I was able to not only understand, but thoroughly enjoy all seven Harry Potter movies (often liking them more than people who have studied the books) and all three Lord of the Rings movies. Sure, reading the books might be fun for some. But it also ensures that you’ll hate the movie when it comes out. Pick your poison. I’ll take the movie.

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6 Legacy Comments

  • Comment by Nick Gallinelli posted December 16, 2010 at 14:30

    you can do things with written words that you can’t do with film, and vice versa. both do their own thing. the limiting factor is the length of anything. generally, you can do more of anything in a longer span, time, piece. etc. i.e. portray emotion, action, a story… usually, a book is “longer” than a movie

  • Comment by Nick Gallinelli posted December 16, 2010 at 14:37

    bottome-line is they’re different media. with this logic, music should enter the argument… but nobody ever does that.

  • Comment by jon posted December 16, 2010 at 14:42

    actually most movies and books are loosely based on “The Heroe’s Journey” by Joseph Campbell. its a really good book, but like i just said on twitter, @katyoneill made the unsolicited comment and prompted a massive argument on the assumption that none of us (me harris and nick) had read the Black Swan before going to see the movie. A. nice play on words (ruffles my feathers/black swan) and B. it was a silly assumption because i’ve read the black swan and have been looking forward to seeing this movie for months. so moral of the story = assuming makes an ass out of u, and leads to stupid arguments, because movies are movies and books are books. some movies or tv shows are based on books down to the letter via Fight Club, others not so much, via dexter (LaGuerta dies in book 1, and is still alive through season 5) and i agree movies can stand on their own thats why no country for old men won an oscar for BEST MOVIE, but the book didnt win much, in fact more people read the book after the movie then ever before. so u may have “a ha” moments when watching a movie after having read the book, or you may have a deeper knowledge of a story, but in the end, books are usually just spoilers. i personally like to read books after seeing the movie, in the case of the black swan, i read it not knowing/thinking anyone would ever make a movie about it.

  • Comment by Quinton Ganthers posted December 16, 2010 at 14:45

    great point Jon

  • Comment by katy posted December 16, 2010 at 15:37

    ahahahahaha. jon, nice assumption you made there. first of all, black swan (movie) isn’t directly based on black swan (book). second, i wasn’t tweeting in reference to you. sorry. good try on trying to tie it in with the feathers comment, but if you knew my family, you would know that that expression is something we hold near and dear to our hearts, and not a play on words. so, before YOU assume something about my comment, make sure you have your facts straight.

    i typed my opinions out on twitter, but the last thought in your article, about hating the movie if you’ve read the book, is a really, REALLY sweeping assumption, and twists my argument. i think it’s a positive thing to read the book in addition to seeing the movie, as it gives you a more well-rounded way to critique/talk about both. noting the differences between the two, and considering why those differences are there, makes for a more informed/interesting opinion on the subject.

  • Comment by Jon posted December 20, 2010 at 15:50

    Sorry I don’t know what silly expressions you and your family hold near and dear to your hearts, but wouldn’t you say it was awfully convenient that just as Harris, Nick and I were discussing a movie we’d all like to see on twitter, that you, according to your earlier tweets, “NEEDED” to see, presumably because you’ve read the book and wanted to enhance your understanding of the content (your description of what happens upon seeing a movie based on a book), you tweeted about how it bothers you that people see movies without having read the book? I think its obvious that although you didn’t directly address any of us in the tweet, this is the assumption you were making, and were making it known that it bothers you when people do what Harris, Nick and I were planning on doing (even though i’ve read the book, but I cant speak for Nick and Harris). Denial is one of the 12 steps, you should get over it. #FACTSSTRAIGHTENED