Before I begin, I just want to say that this does not necessarily apply to every story. I know some people prefer to watch the movie first and there are many reasons for doing that, but for now, this is just a list as to why reading the book before watching the movie is a good idea:
1) Books give a greater understanding of the story
I don’t know about you guys, but if I watch the movie adaptation for a book, it is very unlikely that I will go and read the book. However, if I read the book first, I am always willing to watch the movie afterwards. I think this mainly has to do with the fact that the book is the original piece of work by the original creator; it is detailed and tells the story as it is. In the making of a film adaptation, directors tend to cut out important parts of the story, play around with the ending, and completely disregard important characters at times. I usually see the film as sort of a summary, and hence I find it logical to (almost) always read the book first.
2) Your imagination comes into play
To me, one of the best things about reading a book is being able to use your imagination to picture the characters and the setting. When I read a book after watching the film adaptation, I find that it is impossible to avoid imagining the actors/actresses in the movie! While reading, the movie is pretty much playing in my head, and I’m constantly linking the writing with the scenes. Stephen King in The Stand said something about this which I thing is very accurate (I cut some parts out):
“Bad or good, movies nearly always have a strange diminishing effect on works of fantasy. [In books] the reader will visualize them [the characters] through the lens of the imagination in a vivid and constantly changing way no camera can duplicate. Movies, after all, are only an illusion of motion comprised of thousands of still photographs. The imagination, however, moves with its own tidal flow. Films, even the best of them, freeze fiction – anyone who has ever seen One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest and then reads Ken Kesey’s novel will find it hard or impossible not to see Jack Nicholson’s face on Randle Patrick McMurphy. That is not necessarily bad … but it is limiting. The glory of a good tale is that it is limitless and fluid; a good tale belongs to each reader in its own particular way.”
3) Books are better than movies
Enough said. Don’t fight me on this one.
4) Character descriptions
I think you would all agree that character descriptions are so damn important for building a good story. I like to read books first to get to know the characters better since in books, of course, you are given more personality description and are able to enter the characters mind and experience the story from their point of view. This is unlike in films, in which it can be so difficult to understand what a character is thinking and/or feeling.
No two people will interpret a book the same way. None. You might read a book and the characters and setting you have imagined is completely different to that of someone else. You imagine it as you want it to be. But in watching a movie, you are limited to the directors perspective of the book, you are viewing the story through their eyes. Sure, movies will have their advantages in the sense that it is visual, has special effects and whatever – but honestly, I would prefer to read a book and interpret it my own way first and then watch the movie for a different perspective on the story.
Thanks for reading!