Book or Movie First?

Shutter Island is about to start at the movies soon.  I also happen to have the novel (by Dennis Lehane) on which it is based at home.

Except in very rare situations, I usually find the book to be superior to the film version.  A friend told me to watch the movie first, because then when you read the book, you can take your time to properly digest it.  And because the book will be more in-depth, it’s like adding to the movie experience.

On the other hand, watching the film first could lock up certain images in your mind (whether it be the way a character looks, talks or acts), which could be detrimental to the reading experience.  In other words, it limits the ability of your imagination to envisage the scenesor characters in your mind (eg, like seeing DiCaprio’s face all the time!  Argh!).

Just to take a few recent examples.  I read The Road first before seeing the film, whereas I saw Revolutionary Road first before reading the book.  Did it really affect either experience?  Not really.  Each had a different feel to it.

So what should I do?  Read the book first or watch the movie first?

6 thoughts on “Book or Movie First?”

  1. read the book first, you must.

    Base solely on the trailer, I can tell you that the movie will not, NOT left anything from the book out, in fact; it will add. I did have Leo’s face and voice seared into my eye’s mind as I read it, I don’t think you can escape that. But I think he’s perfect for the role. Now read the novel, it is very short and very quick; plenty of time before the movie.

  2. I think you should ask yourself this; who do you think will impress you more, Dennis Lehane or Martin Scorsese? Who are you a bigger fan of?

    When it comes down to books and movies, my philosophy is that if the book is highly successful on its own right, without riding the coattails of the upcoming movie, then I should probably read it first. This is why I haven’t seen The Road yet. But they make so many books that you’ve probably never heard of previously into movies that you can’t really keep up in the reading all of the time.

  3. Whenever I read the book first, I am almost always disappointed in the movie! But I hardly ever watch a good movie, then read the book and am disappointed in it. So, my humble suggestion- first watch the movie so you can enjoy it without the constant disturbance of comparison and then read the book 🙂

    1. Thanks for the advice everyone! As it turns out, I watched the movie first, simple because I it was out and I hadn’t started the book yet! That said, I get the feeling that the book is going to be better and will add to the movie experience.

  4. I prefer to read the book first, b/c even though I agree with you that the book is usually better (unless the movie is directed by Clint Eastwood. Clint’s film versions of Bridges of Madison County, Mystic River, and even Million Dollar Baby were all better than the books on which they were based, and I really liked the books Mystic and Million,) if you see a weak film, you’ll be less likely to read the book, whereas if you read a good book, it won’t deter you from seeing the movie.

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