It’s always interesting to see how a story translates from one media to another, isn’t it? Call me a purist, but I am of the mind that a story that starts in book form is always best in book form.
In fact, if you’ve read the book first, how many times does it actually happen that you even LIKE the film version?
For example: Memoirs of a Geisha. I love that book. I’ve read it at least five times, probably closer to ten. I was completely stoked when I heard that a movie version was coming out, because I’m sure that not even my vivd imagination can do justice to the gorgeous Japanese backdrop to the story. And the movie was visually stunning. But, it was truncated, glib, and just not as interesting as the characters that I had grown to know and love.
Ugh. And don’t EVEN get me started on the horrible movie version of Flowers in the Attic. I could barf.
However, if you see a movie first, you can often like both versions, even though they are completely different. To illustrate, may I present Circle of Friends. I saw the movie version (starring Minnie Driver, Alan Cummings and Colin Firth) first, and liked it a lot. So much so, in fact, that I decied to read the book version, which I’d heard was completely different. [One of my better decisions, as it turned out, because I absolutely love Maeve Binchy’s novels, and have read them all at least once by now.]
Anyhow, the two are, indeed, completely different. The ending is different, the characters are not nearly as well defined as they are in the book, and there’s a completely unnecessary sexual bent to the movie (the whole Trobriand Islanders thing? Not in the book.). But, I still enjoy both versions. Having seen the movie first, I can separate the two into two entirely different stories. But, every time you go into a movie knowing the story, the movie is just ruined.
For that reason, I’m a little concerned about Brokeback Mountain. I know, I know, most of you are completly shocked that I haven’t gotten around to seeing it yet. ME TOO. But, having read the short story, will I be able to lose myself in the cinematography as much as a virgin to Annie Proulx’s story will? I’m not sure. It does help that this was based off a short story, rather than a full novel – there’s more room for interpretation. But I REALLY want to like this movie (Jake Gyllenhaal is awesome, and Rufus is on the soundtrack!). We’ll just have to see what happens!
Oh, and I’m way more passionate about the book v. movie thing, but I have noticed that I tend to prefer the movie versions of Broadway musicals to the stage version, no matter the order I see them in. Examples inclue Rent, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Grease and Evita. I think the movies tend to be more subtle, and provide more character development.