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Books vs. Films

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  • Berni Phillips
    As a child, I saw the movie The Wizard of Oz before I found the book. I loved that movie. Back in those days, it was played once a year on TV, and that was
    Message 1 of 12 , Feb 21, 2002
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      As a child, I saw the movie "The Wizard of Oz" before I found the book. I
      loved that movie. Back in those days, it was played once a year on TV, and
      that was always a special occasion. I always got to stay up and watch it.

      Then one day, I found the book at the library and I checked it out and took
      it home and tried to read it. I was so disappointed. It was so flat
      compared to the movie. I could accept that it was different -- no frame
      story with the dream -- but it never spoke to me as the movie did.

      I tried later in childhood to read the Oz books and still couldn't. I tried
      as a young adult and still couldn't enjoy them very much. The movie had
      utterly ruined the books for me, and I consider myself a pretty good reader.

      I've had the experience with a few other books/movies (like Heidi) as well.
      Fortunately, this is the exception rather than the rule, but it does happen,
      and no amount of saying "the book is still there" can erase what the movie
      has done. Sometimes, the movie makes such a strong impression that the book
      doesn't have a chance. (And I'm not saying this just because I'm married to
      David.)

      Berni
    • SusanPal@aol.com
      In a message dated 2/21/2002 6:22:55 PM Pacific Daylight Time, ... But how do you know you d have liked the Oz book if you *hadn t* seen the movie first?
      Message 2 of 12 , Feb 21, 2002
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        In a message dated 2/21/2002 6:22:55 PM Pacific Daylight Time,
        bernip@... writes:


        > Sometimes, the movie makes such a strong impression that the book
        > doesn't have a chance.

        But how do you know you'd have liked the Oz book if you *hadn't* seen the
        movie first? Maybe you wouldn't have. Maybe, for YOU, the film is better
        than the book. Isn't it possible, just hypothetically, that if you'd read
        the book and disliked it, you've have avoided the film -- on the grounds that
        "I don't like Oz" -- and thus would have missed something that turned out to
        speak to you deeply?

        I loved the film The English Patient. I read the book afterwards and didn't
        enjoy it at all -- and I don't think I'd have enjoyed it beforehand, either,
        because I don't find Ondaatje very accessible, and never have.

        Susan


        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • David S. Bratman
        ... Perhaps one doesn t, not for sure. But when the disappointment with the book takes the form of I wish it were more like the movie, why isn t it like the
        Message 3 of 12 , Feb 21, 2002
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          At 05:30 PM 2/21/2002 , Susan Palwick wrote:

          >bernip@... writes:
          >
          >> Sometimes, the movie makes such a strong impression that the book
          >> doesn't have a chance.
          >
          >But how do you know you'd have liked the Oz book if you *hadn't* seen the
          >movie first?

          Perhaps one doesn't, not for sure. But when the disappointment with the
          book takes the form of "I wish it were more like the movie, why isn't it
          like the movie, I _know_ that I shouldn't be asking that question but I
          can't help it," there can indeed be an undercurrent of "I can tell that I'd
          like this book better if that movie weren't floating around in my head and
          getting in the way."

          I've been able to run something approaching a control experiment. This is
          very rough, and there are exceptions, but as a rule I prefer 19C authors
          whose work I read _before_ I saw films or tv series based on it. I can
          establish a patience with their long-windedness that's harder to do when
          I'm used to the snappier pacing of late 20C film.


          David Bratman
        • Sweet & Tender Hooligan
          ... What s wrong with that? If the book seemed flat compared to the movie, I think a case might be made for the movie being better, no? I ve never read any
          Message 4 of 12 , Feb 21, 2002
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            > Sometimes, the movie makes such a strong
            > impression that the book doesn't have a chance.

            What's wrong with that? If the book seemed "flat" compared to the movie, I
            think a case might be made for the movie being better, no?

            I've never read any of the Oz books, btw, but I'm not a fan of the movie.
            Boring. :P

            -

            s&th
            cirhsein@...

            "Organized Christianity has probably done more
            to retard the ideals that were its founders' than
            any other agency in the world."
            - Richard Le Gallienne
          • David S. Bratman
            ... Not in the minds of most people who read the book first. In fact, with Oz there appears to be almost a sharp division: with many people, at least, you
            Message 5 of 12 , Feb 21, 2002
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              At 06:37 PM 2/21/2002 , s&th wrote:
              >> Sometimes, the movie makes such a strong
              >> impression that the book doesn't have a chance.
              >
              >What's wrong with that? If the book seemed "flat" compared to the movie, I
              >think a case might be made for the movie being better, no?

              Not in the minds of most people who read the book first. In fact, with Oz
              there appears to be almost a sharp division: with many people, at least,
              you like better what you encountered first, book or film.

              That suggests very strongly that it's the order, not the work itself, which
              makes the difference.

              David Bratman
            • jamcconney@aol.com
              In a message dated 2/21/2002 7:23:13 PM Central Standard Time, ... Isn t it possible that this happens when the movie IS stronger than the book? (This is not a
              Message 6 of 12 , Feb 21, 2002
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                In a message dated 2/21/2002 7:23:13 PM Central Standard Time,
                bernip@... writes:


                > . Sometimes, the movie makes such a strong impression that the book
                > doesn't have a chance

                Isn't it possible that this happens when the movie IS stronger than the book?
                (This is not a comment on MGM's Wizard vs Baum's, as I have not read
                Baum--it's just a general observation that any number of films sumply ARE
                better than the books they're based on. As well as the other way around, of
                course.)

                Jamaq


                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • Stolzi@aol.com
                In a message dated 2/21/02 7:23:00 PM Central Standard Time, ... Well, I read Heidi first, and many many times. I loved it (still do) and NO movie version
                Message 7 of 12 , Feb 21, 2002
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                  In a message dated 2/21/02 7:23:00 PM Central Standard Time,
                  bernip@... writes:

                  > I've had the experience with a few other books/movies (like Heidi) as well.

                  Well, I read Heidi first, and many many times. I loved it (still do) and NO
                  movie version I've ever seen has made me anything but angry. Squirly Tinkle,
                  blech.

                  Never saw the WIZARD OF OZ until I was grown up and had already read and
                  re-read every Oz book in my local library (and loved 'em). Now there, it's
                  different - I can accept the movie on its own terms as an excellent movie,
                  and I like the picturing of most of the characters (as I do in FOTR, for that
                  matter), and I like the songs. But I swear that as far as I know, Baum's
                  Munchkins were =not= little people; and I do think the movie's Glinda is
                  rather icky.

                  Diamond Proudbrook
                • ERATRIANO@aol.com
                  I don t know. I didn t like the Oz movie, it always scared me. But I loved that flying couch in the books. Then the talking deer head or whatever it was,
                  Message 8 of 12 , Feb 21, 2002
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                    I don't know. I didn't like the Oz movie, it always scared me. But I loved
                    that flying couch in the books. Then the talking deer head or whatever it
                    was, after the couch got disassembled.

                    I am thinking more and more that the LOTR movie is just a separate entity
                    from the books. I'll never be able to think of them as much related. But I
                    can see the potential for a wider rift between the electronically-entertained
                    and reading worlds.

                    Oh, just got home from a D&D game to find that my thoughtful if misled
                    husband had picked us up a copy of Warner Brother's animated version of, of,
                    I think it was Return of hte King?! Sequel to their Hobbit??

                    Lizzie
                  • dianejoy@earthlink.net
                    ... From: jamcconney@aol.com Date: Thu, 21 Feb 2002 22:11:42 EST
                    Message 9 of 12 , Feb 21, 2002
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                      Original Message:
                      -----------------
                      From: jamcconney@...
                      Date: Thu, 21 Feb 2002 22:11:42 EST


                      << Isn't it possible that this happens when the movie IS stronger than the book?
                      (This is not a comment on MGM's Wizard vs Baum's, as I have not read
                      Baum--it's just a general observation that any number of films sumply ARE
                      better than the books they're based on. As well as the other way around, of
                      course.) >>

                      In general I have found that I can enjoy books and films independently of one another, and imagine my own versions. That was less so in the case of LOTR, because the book does mean a great deal to me, but I felt more positively about it than David B. does.

                      The Oz movie (for me) was better than the book, for several reasons. I thought the "frame device" was very strong, with characters in real life appearing also as characters in Oz---and I usually *hate* the dream-frame device for fantasy writing, but there's always an exception to the rule. I also thought that making Oz a musical was brilliant; the type of characters seem to lend themselves to such interruptions (I also particularly like the musical *Fame* because it's a "natural" musical, taking place at a performing arts school), but I also love the musical form in general; my favorite is *Brigadoon.* Another element I liked was the switch from B&W to color when Dorothy reaches Oz. I still gasp when I see that

                      But in regular (non-fantasy) films, I can generally enjoy Alfred Hitchcock's *Rebecca* and then go read Daphne du Maurier with little problem; same is true for GWTW. I've not read *English Patient,* nor have I seen the movie; I'd like to see *Green Mile;* to my mind, one of King's best. ---djb


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                    • Christine Howlett
                      Glinda (in the movie) is icky without having read the book. Such a dim version of sugary goodness! Bleech. The only Baum I ve attempted to read I haven t
                      Message 10 of 12 , Feb 22, 2002
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                        Glinda (in the movie) is icky without having read the book. Such a dim
                        version of sugary goodness! Bleech. The only Baum I've attempted to read I
                        haven't succeeded in getting through.

                        On the other hand, it was an excellent 40s (?) film of Les Miserables that
                        compelled me to seek out the book and read it, and I loved both. I'd read
                        Cervantes before seeing Broadway's version and love both. Frequently I find
                        it's easier to see the movie and then enjoy the book. If I read the book
                        first then my only mental images are likely to conflict with the movie after
                        (though I must say, Harry Potter did not conflict with my preconceptions
                        surprisingly). But if I read the movie it seems to just sort of incorporate
                        itself into the book. The books have so much more space, plot, detail, for
                        the movie to move into that I don't feel like the book is subsumed. Even
                        Fried Green Tomatoes which was VERY different from the book seemed to inform
                        the book happily.
                        Christine
                      • Berni Phillips
                        From: ... book? ... of ... Yes, but I also felt like I had been cheated out of something. I m glad I read the Narnia books before I saw
                        Message 11 of 12 , Feb 22, 2002
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                          From: <jamcconney@...>
                          > bernip@... writes:

                          > > . Sometimes, the movie makes such a strong impression that the book
                          > > doesn't have a chance
                          >
                          > Isn't it possible that this happens when the movie IS stronger than the
                          book?
                          > (This is not a comment on MGM's Wizard vs Baum's, as I have not read
                          > Baum--it's just a general observation that any number of films sumply ARE
                          > better than the books they're based on. As well as the other way around,
                          of
                          > course.)

                          Yes, but I also felt like I had been cheated out of something. I'm glad I
                          read the Narnia books before I saw the abysmal production of THE LION, THE
                          WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE. I can't remember who did it. I just remember that
                          Aslan's roar sounded more like burping.

                          (An example of where I thought the movie was better than the book was THE
                          WITCHES OF EASTWICK (?). Updike's book fell apart in the second half. The
                          movie fixed it up pretty well.)

                          Berni
                        • Kati Hallenbeck
                          For me, watching all my friends watch FOTR and then go out and buy the books the next day to see what happens next was invigorating. I ve been able to
                          Message 12 of 12 , Feb 23, 2002
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                            For me, watching all my friends watch FOTR and then go out and buy the books
                            the next day to "see what happens next" was invigorating. I've been able to
                            discuss the differences between the text and the movie with them, and the
                            upcoming possibilities for the next two movies. It's been wonderful and I
                            think the movie was a real catalyst that introduced Middle Earth into their
                            lives.

                            Kati Hallenbeck-Tilley


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