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  • Janelis Medina

Should People Read the Book Before Watching the Movie?


My husband knows that I have a rule that if a movie that is coming out is a film adaptation of a book, we have to wait until I read the book before we watch the movie. Thank goodness I have Amazon Prime to get my book within two days so he really doesn’t have to wait long. There are some movies I made exceptions for, especially if I didn’t know if they had a book, but I definitely prefer to read the book before watching the movie. But do you really need to read the book before watching the movie?


A film adaptation is just that, an adaptation of the novel. To me, this means that the film is going to be heavily influenced by the interpretation of the person who is making this movie. Every book can garner different interpretations from the reader and that is my main reason why I prefer to read the book before watching the movie. I want to be able to establish my own interpretation before it gets clouded by someone else’s interpretation. The ideal situation is for the movie to match my interpretation and ideas I had when reading. An example of this I had was The Hunger Games. When reading, I could really see Katniss and her unconditional love and devotion to her sister and willingness to do anything for her. I was very pleased to see Jennifer Lawrence completely encompass what I expected Katniss to look like, her mannerisms, her emotions, and her character development. However, this isn’t always the case as I have seen with Maximum Ride. Nobody probably even knows that this is a movie and I promise you that you are not missing out.


I also love the information and background I get when reading the book first. Books can take from several hours to several day to read, usually due to the amount of content that is in the book. Movies are limited to only a couple hours, which means much of what occurs in the book will be cut in order to meet that time requirement. Most movies do an excellent job of still portraying the full story of the book, but small details that may provide more insight will get cut. An example of this is definitely The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. The movie starring Tom Hanks was still an exciting film to watch, especially seeing how he cracks all these complicated codes and overall it is a solid movie. However, we don’t really get to see the process of how he would use the history behind each art piece that he would see in order to get to the next clue that would eventually lead him to the Holy Grail. I actually watched the movie with my husband and he was confused with many scenes and explanations, so I would have to pause the movie every 10 minutes and provide that missing content so he could have the same “Ah ha” moment that I had. Maybe I should start charging him for this service…


So even though I don’t think you necessarily need to read the book before watching the movie, I think it really can enhance that experience. Books can help provide that background information on the characters, the locations, and even the reasoning behind certain actions. This allows you to spend less time trying to figure out what is happening in the book and more time just enjoying the film as a visual representation of your favorite books. I find it fun to finally be able to put a face to the character I spent hours investing in and to get to see the incredible places I have seen being described during the book. I think they marry together in a way that just provides such a unique experience. If you prefer to watch the movie before reading the book, that is fine too! But if you want to understand the experience I am talking about, definitely exercise your patience and read the book first.