BOOKS VS FILMS: or should I read Gone Girl first?

Book Thoughts, Writing Thoughts

Only illness prevented me from seeing Gone Girl today. But did it actually save me the terrible horror of having the book spoiled?!?!?!!

I don’t know! Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn has been buzzing around for a while, and I have been cheerfully resigned to coming into contact with it in some form. And a couple of trailers and an interview with Rosamund Pike intrigued me enough to want to see the film.

So for tonight, I was ignoring the little part of me that always always wants to read the book first. Because it’s the original, and as a journey through a book is often more satisfying than a journey through a film. But now I’ve bought the kindle copy… and I’m determined to whizz through it before I hit the cinema.

I used to be a reader who bemoaned the changes necessary to any film adaptation, but it all changed! A module on Adaptation at university convinced me: film is different to writing. They have to be different. Of course, if it’s a bad film it’s a bad film – but the director has to try make a good film, not attempt a completely true representation of the book.

They are reinterpreting and re-imagining and creating from a stimulus – not just doing the same thing in a different way. And some of my favourite adaptations are the most different – Joe Wright’s Pride and Prejudice skews and butchers the plot but makes a stunning film, Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings brings colour and noise, richness and action to Tolkien’s world, whilst skipping some of the boring bits (sorry Mum).

But still. In a book, the world you step into is partly your own. The characters and setting come to life with a meld of the author’s words and your own imagination, the plot unfolds in your subconscious rather than being presented to you on a screen. And of course, it takes longer – drawing out the immersion in a new and exciting world, dragging out the tension.

I hear there are tensions, secrets and dramas a-plenty in Gone Girl, and I’m going for page before screen. Review coming soon!

6 thoughts on “BOOKS VS FILMS: or should I read Gone Girl first?

  1. I’d say it’s a good call to read the book first. I am–proudly–NOT someone who insists that “the book is always better,” but in this case, I have to say… the book is better. More complex, and less–I hate to say it–seemingly misogynistic. I still think it’s a good stand-alone movie, but I think it makes some unfortunate choices about how to present the story. Just my take, though, and honestly, I’m still struggling to fully explain my feelings as I write up the review.

  2. I say read the book first. I loved the book and though it translated remarkably well to the big screen, I actually think in this case, having read the book made me enjoy the film more.

  3. I actually prefer seeing films first – I can enjoy books even when I know what’s going to happen, but with a film it’s more difficult to get caught up with it. There’s always a part of me going “Aha! I see what you are doing there…”

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