Why Read The Book When I Can Watch The Movie?

Entertainment

We live in a visual world and we love to be entertained. Our everyday lives are so stressful and busy that at the end of the day, we need a break. It’s great to escape for an hour or two and not have to worry about cooking, cleaning, laundry, and kids. Or, if we are kids it’s great to escape from the demands of parents giving chores, homework from school, friends and their problems, and the school-day itself. There’s so much going on in our lives that sitting down to read a book that will take weeks to finish doesn’t sound fun. It sounds boring. It sounds like school work. It sounds awful.

And sometimes, it is school work. Sometimes there’s an assignment to read a book for an  assignment. Sometimes there’s a test at the end of each chapter. So why read the book if there’s a movie version. It will be so much easier and save so much time if we just watch the movie version.

What’s the Problem With the Film Version of a novel?

Really, there’s nothing wrong with the film version. There are many great books that have been successfully converted to the Silver Screen. If it’s for entertainment, it’s usually great. However, teachers will often show the different film versions of a play or novel to show the artistic choices a director makes. Students can see how one version might be more effective than another, and how the characters vary from one version to the next. For classroom conversation though, it’s difficult to have a conversation about The Hobbit as it’s read in class while some students are making references to the film version. They are very similar, but there are some things that happen in the book that don’t happen in the film, and things that happen in the film that don’t take place in the book.

Recommendation

Films made from books are great. Watching movies for homework instead of reading is a bad idea. However, watching a movie to become familiar with the story can make the reading easier, more enjoyable, or possibly more frustrating. If your intent is to escape; watch the movie, or read. The story will be great either way. If you’re going to have a conversation about the book, you should probably be reading it. If you bring up details from the movie it will be obvious to the teacher or professor that you haven’t really read the book.

It’s almost guaranteed that if you read the book, the movie will be disappointing. There’s no substitute for the images your imagination can produce. There are things that we deduce when we decipher character intent and decode meaning from action or dialogue. Our minds are powerful and can make meaning from words on the page, even if the author didn’t write it all down. In a movie, we have to see what the director captured on film.

Let’s not argue any more about which is better. Book or movie, they’re both fun. Books are more challenging, and also more rewarding. Movies are great for a moment of escape. Both are valuable in a variety of ways.

What do you think? Are there movies that were better than the book? Are there movies that ruined a book for you? Let me know in the comments section, and if you’ve had this conversation before, share this article.

Read on, and watch on!

-Dave

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