Why I Read the Book Before Seeing the Movie

I’m a visual reader. For me, this means I truly see the action unfold in my mind as my eyes read the words on the page. I’m a slow reader, I read only a little faster than I do aloud. For me, though, that time is truly captivating. I am the characters, I paint the scenery, I see the people — usually in great detail. Perhaps it was a misspent youth reading too much Longfellow, Wordsworth, and ancient Mediterranean mythology. Maybe it’s just the way I’m wired. Whatever it is, it is. It’s who I am, how I read, and how I choose to escape.

When I see a movie, I apply the same instinct to see myself in the characters, in that universe. When that movie is based on a book I’ve read, there is a 90% chance the visuals of the movie will supplant the one’s I’ve created in my mind. As clear a vision as I had for Gandalf in my mind for years of reading Tolkien before Peter Jackson’s movies, Ian McKellen is now the face I see when re-reading the books.
Reading with Tea
Is this a bad thing? Not always. I’m really good at suspending disbelief to enjoy a movie, however, there are exceptions that break my brain. For example:

  • When the script is vastly different from the book.
  • When three plot-point intensive characters are melded into one actor.
  • When the ending is changed to fill the departing crowd with happy summer feelings rather than the intended perspective-shifting, soul-wrenching ending of the book.

These instances are liable to induce nano-hemorrhages in my brain — a medical condition that either leaves me stunned and speechless or brings forth a veritable cascade of spluttering rant. While the former may be a welcome break, the latter is usually painful to all those within earshot. It’s far better for me to respect my marriage and friendships by just reading the book first.

Am I the only one who needs to read the book before seeing the movie? What’s your take?

Breathe deeply,
Laugh with abandon,
Love wholly,
Eat well.

MiLady Carol

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