Sunday, June 28, 2015

7 Books to Read Before Seeing Their Movie Adaptations

At the risk of sounding like one of those self-righteous “experts” who broadcast to the world that books are always better than movies, I am here to tell you exactly that. Well, not all books are better than the movies, but at the very least, here are just some that will help you appreciate the story more if you hold off on the big screen first.

1. Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

Obviously (and admittedly with bias), the first in this list would be the seven Harry Potter novels by J.K. Rowling. While witnessing the magic come to life on the silver screen is something that no amount of words can do, some do argue that the real magic is best experienced when read. This is because when you read, your wild imagination is hard at work trying to create these magical elements and worlds for you, so you get to enjoy the story better. Another thing is that it’s virtually impossible to cram all the minute details of the book into a single film, and the thing about Rowling’s books is that the devil is in the details. Even a single mention of a piece of locket plays a monumental role later on in the series, and this kind of brilliant foreshadowing is something that a movie cannot accomplish. Still, it’s pretty cool to see magic spells flying here and there on film, so feel free to watch the movies after reading the books. I guarantee that your enjoyment of the movies will be ten times better.

2. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien

Just like the Harry Potter novels, the stories written by J.R.R. Tolkien are better understood and appreciated when read. The old-fashioned way of storytelling might make it a bit of a challenge for new and young readers to swallow, but the plots, albeit lengthy, are totally worth it. The same is also true for The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, which is best read knowing full well the context under which the novels were written.

3. The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

While the movies are pretty straightforward, there are a lot more elements in the books that were completely left out in the big screen adaptation. Suzanne Collins did a tremendous job of including satirical undertones reflecting current issues of society in her novels, most of which were overlooked in the movies. This is a classic example of words getting lost in translation from novel to film, so it’s best to view this dystopian blockbuster after you’ve fully read the books.

4. Angels and Demons by Dan Brown

It’s hard not to love the way Ewan McGregor does an outstanding portrayal of the camerlengo in the film, but when you read the book, you’ll see that there’s so much more to the character than the movie shows. The brilliant dichotomy between religion and science is something that the movie was not able to fully flesh out, not to mention the classic way Robert Langdon uncovers the Illuminati mysteries one by one in the book. Dan Brown is truly a master at his craft—it’s a shame to miss out on that. And while you’re at it, go ahead and read The Da Vinci Code first, too.

5. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

The movie is a smashing success—there’s no doubt about that. But the beauty of the book and what makes the mysteries so intense is that the story is told in varying perspectives. Without giving any spoilers away, let’s just say that internal monologues by characters in books are extremely important, and are often left out in movies. But then again, who am I kidding? Gone Girl was a superb movie adaptation, with an excellent casting choice for both Nick and Amy. So if you’ve read and watched the film, it’s a win-win situation for you.

6.  Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton

Nothing is more breathtaking than seeing dinosaurs thrash around on the big screen, especially if Steven Spielberg is at the helm. But a big difference between the movie and the book is the ending, wherein [SPOILER ALERT] the military bombs Isla Nublar in the book but does not do so in the movie. In the film adaptation, the story ends with the T. Rex rampaging through the museum to save the protagonists (which is really not bad, because the T. Rex is always awesome). "I think the star of this movie is the T. Rex," says Spielberg. "The audience will hate me if the T. Rex doesn't come back for one more heroic appearance." Also, in the book, John Hammond dies while Donald Gennaro (that lawyer who was gobbled up by the Rex while he was on the most iconic toilet in movie history) survives.

7. Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk

Anything penned by the great Chuck Palahniuk deserves to be thoroughly read. His unique style and voice coupled with his excellent choice of words all paint a picture in your head that you just cannot shake, and films can’t do that imagery justice. Still, the film adaptation was pretty faithful to the novel, and with fantastic portrayals by Edward Norton and Brad Pitt. Norton even does an accurate voiceover in the film to showcase the main protagonist’s internal monologues in the novel. But again, the ending was quite different—you will have to read the book to find out what really happens to Tyler Durden and Project Mayhem.

Some people do argue that watching the movie first gives you a better picture for when you read the book, but in my opinion, there’s nothing quite like the first experience of reading the story on paper before you catch it in the cinema. Then again, I am a self-confessed bibliophile, so books will always weigh heavier for me (no surprise there!).

What’s your opinion? Do you agree with the list above? Let us know what’s on your mind in the comments below! 

*This article was first seen on The Philippine Online Chronicles HERE.

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