Read the book, or watch the movie? Which should come first? Does it really matter? One can passionately argue both sides of this heated debate, and I’m not here to tell you either position is wrong. I’m a proponent of always starting with the book, but in the past, I’ve watched the movie first (to be fair, only when I didn’t know said movie was originally a book).
Why do I start with the book? I want to know the story as its creator meant it to be told. Even if the author is involved in the screen adaptation, movies will always have changes. While those changes aren’t necessarily bad, they do alter the experience. Regardless of your opinion on this topic, allow me to share a few dos and don’ts about how to approach the book/film relationship:
DON’T read the book too closely to watching the movie. You’ll be setting yourself up for disappointment. If you finish the book and immediately turn on the film, you’ll pick up every little change, and you’re bound to be annoyed by all of them. DO allow yourself some time between reading the book and watching the movie. You’ll remember the important things, but you won’t nitpick as much, and the overall experience will be more enjoyable.
DON’T panic over film casting. It’s so easy to read a book and cast the perfect actors in your mind as you eagerly await the film adaptation. I do this all the time, but my first choices don’t always end up on the silver screen. DO give the actors who are cast a chance. They might not be your first choices, but try to appreciate their interpretations of your beloved characters. You might be pleasantly surprised.
DON’T expect everything in the movie to be the same as the book. Changes are inevitable. Your favorite line is cut. The male lead has blue eyes instead of green. The story is set in Los Angeles rather than New York. Don’t get hung up on these changes. DO appreciate how the changes benefit the story and affect your interpretation of it. Film allows us to explore stories in ways books don’t, and vice versa. Both are unique and valuable. Focus on the enjoyment you can derive from the differences and what you can learn from each.
Should you read the book before you watch the movie? There’s no right or wrong answer. Regardless of which you choose, I hope you keep these dos and don’ts in mind so you can appreciate both the book and movie versions of your favorite tales.