Movies vs. Books

Masterpiece Classics on PBS had a Dickens theme for most of this year, but just as with Cranford last year I can never seem to get my act together in time. I almost always prefer to read something before watching, for several reasons. First, it allows me to visualize the action without actors’ faces superimposed. Oddly enough, even though I feel as if I am right in the middle of what I read in terms of plot and atmosphere, there never seem to be physical details other than vague impressions.

Second, often a movie will reinforce my reception of a book, especially in terms of emotional impact. At lot of times the smallest gesture, the hint unspoken, can take on significance in the hands of a skilled director; other times he or she may have a concept that reveals nuances I had missed before. Adaptations of the classics, especially, invite me to look on with a more critical eye than I would for just pure entertainment.

Finally, in terms of sheer scope a book often has more to offer than a movie, which is why I prefer to view the printed version as canon.I would rather think of plot details or characters as omitted for brevity’s sake than added in later. To be fair, though, for the most part  I do read the book first other than for films I watched in my childhood. A notable exception is the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, which I admit daunts me in its length and detail but will someday have to be cracked open.

The moral of the story is that I missed the entire Dickens run (yes, even Oliver Twist which I well know the plot of and David Copperfield which I read abridged as a child). However, true to the cause I did still lug along Little Dorrit for the weekend trip to NY/NJ and have started to make progress. More updates to follow!

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Published in: on May 25, 2009 at 11:53 am  Leave a Comment  
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