No, that’s not a typo. I know there is some debate about whether it is better to read the book or see the film adaptation first. Frankly, I don’t care. I love movies just about as much as I love books. I discover a lot of my reading material through movies. Just check out my book lists on Goodreads.com; it is packed with books adapted into movies and plays. On rare occasions, a book’s adaption will put me off reading a book I was on the fence about. Not because the movie is necessarily bad but because it just didn’t interest me enough to read the book.
Like many readers, I enjoy the opportunity to use my imagination in picturing the characters and the settings based on the author’s descriptions and representations. And like most, I am usually (but not always) disappointed in the movie if I’ve read the book first. I often feel like I could have done a better job and kept all of the good bits in. My worst experience with a film adaptation was that of Corelli’s Mandolin. The novel is so wonderful and beautiful that I often skipped classes during college because I could not put it down. So when I heard that it was being adapted, I absolutely had to go see it. They cut out all of the best scenes and characters and changed the most moving moments completely. So, you know, your typical film hack job.
On the other hand, when I see the film first and like it (inspiring me to read the book), I typically enjoy both. That certainly proved true of two of my most recent reads.
Would I be disappointed?
Would it ruin the movie for me?
Could the book possibly be as funny as the hilarious and classic movie?
NOT A CHANCE!
For anyone out there who loves the film version of The Princess Bride – and I know there are a lot of you – I definitely recommend reading the novel.
The characters you love (and love to hate!), that fabulously wicked sense of humor, and the edge-of-your-seat adventure. It’s all there. Only more so. I think that’s what I love about finding out a movie I enjoyed is based on a book. The book gives me more of the things I loved about the movie. And it’s at its best when the movie manages to capture the overall tone of the book like The Princess Bride does.
Before reading The Princess Bride, I finally – after looking at it sitting on my shelf for years – read Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand. I just loved the film version. I mean, who doesn’t love a good underdog (or horse) story? I think I thought the non-fiction book would be dry and dull like a textbook. It was neither. Though there were many more differences between the book and the movie than with The Princess Bride, they shared the most important qualities. There is the connection of the Seabiscuit’s story to his historical era, the heart-stopping excitement of the race scenes, and the emotional connection to the characters, human and equine.
The book, though, also has a lot of information (I learned so much about the sport of horse racing, a subject I didn’t even know I wanted to learn about) and several major changes and omissions were made in adapting it for the film. Does that mean that I like the movie any less? No, not really. What it means is that whenever I watch it from now on, I will be saying, “That’s not how it happened in the book!”