Books and Movies: Watch or Read First?

read_or_watchHave you ever wondered which is better: Read the book and then watch the movie, or watch the movie and then read the book? If you ask your friends, chances are everybody will have a different opinion… unless you have friends like my sister, who would rather just watch the movie and not read the book at all.

When comparing a movie to a book, you notice all of the differences. Considering most movies are about two hours in length, and it usually takes longer than two hours to read a book, I don’t think this is fair. Rather than trying to pick one over the other, I think it’s better to appreciate both of them for their differences. Watching the movie before reading the book that it was based on gives you the opportunity to get interested in reading the book.

Another benefit of watching the movie first is that you can be captivated by the movie without having anything spoiled for you. However, when you read the book first, you can imagine the characters and scenes in your head because you don’t have somebody else interrupting it for you.

An alternative is the movie-book sandwich. You watch the movie, read the book, and then watch the movie again. This works because you can still be captivated by the movie and captivated by the book (because the book usually has more detail and differences), and when you watch the movie again you notice more subtleties and feel more adept. I recently did this with Johnny Tremain.

johnny_tremainJohnny Tremain is a historical fiction novel written by Esther Forbes who was awarded the Newbery Medal in 1944. Ms. Forbes’ inspiration to write this novel was to help remind war-torn America during World War II about the principles of freedom that America was first founded on. Walt Disney turned it into a movie in 1957. The fictional character of Johnny Tremain interacts with key people and events of the American Revolutionary War. Ms. Forbes’ message of “so every man can stand up,” is beautifully communicated in her novel.

I watched this movie, read the book, and watched it again. The first time I watched the movie adaption, I thought it was a pretty good movie. The second time I watched it, I noticed some differences. Lots of characters were not included, a song was added, there was a plot change (Johnny does fight with Rab in the movie but not in the book), and a horse (which was a sort of main character) looked very different than its description in the book…But the biggest difference I noticed between the book and the movie is that the movie seems to be the book sped up. You could tell very much so that this movie was based on this book. However, lots of characters and details were left out and/or changed, probably to make the movie adaption shorter.

Overall, the book was very good and educational while still being exciting and entertaining. The movie stuck pretty well to the book, with a bit of Disney added to it, of course. I recommend the book to ages 11 and up, whilst I recommend the movie to ages 8 and up. If you choose to read/watch Johnny Tremain, I hope you enjoy it! (And be sure not to miss the special features on the classic Disney DVD.) Learning can be so fun!

-Danielle L., 6th grade

7 thoughts on “Books and Movies: Watch or Read First?

  1. This is really well written and I really enjoyed reading it. I personally pretty much always refuse to watch a movie if I haven’t read the book first, but the “movie-book” sandwich is an interesting idea. That’s a bit of what I’m doing with Game of Thrones right now, although that’s technically a show and not a movie. I’m reading a few hundred pages then watching an episode or two and the way things overlap and differ is quit interesting. Overall great post!

  2. I personally never watch movies (or stage performances) without first reading the book. There have been very few times where the directors/producers have succeeded in doing the original work justice.

    As for fans of The Fault In Our Stars…well, let’s just cross our fingers and hope Josh Boone doesn’t possess a Thor Freudenthal-esque lack of understanding of literature.

    Awesome review! and great ideas!

  3. i would read the book before the movie since, sometimes the movie skips some key things that you need to know in order to understand the rest of the movie.

  4. I always read the book first because when I read I have to put time and concentration in it. If I’ve already seen the movie I’d be kinda like: Nah, i know what happens in the ending, And then I end up not reading the book.

    I don’t know if im the only one who does that tho…

    But! I am gonna try the sandwitch you made. It sounded interesting…

    Great review 😉

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