The written words of books vs the “silver platter” pictures of films


429374_315922208457052_872422255_nThis is not a post about books being better than movies because that notion is actually very subjective. It is not either about whether I like books better than movies, I need both to sustain me. This week’s post is about imagination vs images served on a silver platter by movie makers.

– Wait a minute!

– So it is about books vs movies…

It is not!

– You’re kidding right!

– Just read back what you wrote for Pete’s sake!

I know what I wrote and I was not finished introducing what the post was about before you cretins interrupted me.

– No name callings!

Oh, my bad… you two crazy mini-me:s. Is that better?

– About the same…

Anyway, this week’s post is about MY imagination vs. ready-made (by others) pictures.

Fragonard_La liseuse
Fragonard_La liseuse

I’ve had interesting discussions with my husband about books and their adaptation to the big screen. The most recent example was “Ender’s Game“. I have not read the book (started though) and I did not like the movie. My husband, however, did read the book and hated the movie. He explained to me how, as he read the book he could make up his own images of places and characters; he retained these pictures and erased the movie’s from his mind. This is a fascinating notion to me because I am not like that.

You see, when I read a book I barely see the places or the characters. Usually, descriptions – no matter how well-written they are – give me very little pleasure for all I can see are either huge empty grey spaces with tiny (in terms of size) things and people or small spaces with spots of details here and there. I never see the whole picture. This is where movies come in handy as they fill in the blanks. Books give me sensations. I will smell a fire burning (whatever kind it is in a story), but I will not see if it is a fire in a hearth or a forest… ok, I’ll be able to make the difference, but I might just describe both types of fire the same way in terms of smell. Then, I will certainly talk about what I feel or perceive from the fire, but I won’t see it clearly.

Imagine a gigantic globe made of glass, empty and gray! Everything I read, if I do not have a visual reference, will end up crowding the globe in a very chaotic way. As I

As I read “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” before I watched the movie, all I saw were feelings and various colors related to these emotions. Of course, I could picture the characters thanks to the movies preceding the last book by J. K. Rowling, but barely the places that I had never been served on a silver platter before. The same goes for “The Lord of the Rings” by J. R. R. Tolkien.

– Well, not all books were adapted to the cinema or the telly…
– Fortunately, we should say!
– How does it work for you then?
Everything I read is like this: descriptions are gray and crowding a small spot (that way I keep everything in my field of vision); emotions and feelings are colors, heartbeats, and body perceptions such as shivers, things crawling under my skin, etc. but mostly shivers and goosebumps.
– You’re missing a lot then!
I do not get the full experience of the book, and yet I love reading.

The more I read a book, the better I can see the world it describes but if no motion picture has been made, the images are never the same for each reading… confusing! It might be the reason why I have such difficulties writing my own fiction stories despite all the ideas invading my head.

– Also, why you are so into movies…

I am looking forward to watching the BBC adaptation of Johnathan Strange and Mr. Norell by Susanna Clarke. I have read that book maybe five times and every time I see different settings.

How do you read… reader?
What do you see when you read? or do just feel?
Do you get the full experience of a book? or just bits and pieces like me?

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