The book comes first

  • Friday, November 8, 2013

  • Updated Friday, November 8, 2013 2:18 pm

There is an unwritten rule – read the book before you see the movie.
Some people will disagree with that.
They much prefer seeing and hearing the story develop on screen instead of reading the words on a page.
People like me don't want to see the movie before they read the book.
They like to get the author's words and descriptions in their head before the screenwriters and directors tell them what to think.

Luckily, I have a granddaughter who thinks the way I do. She reads the book first and then goes to see the movie.
She devoured every one of the Harry Potter books and then got one of us to take her to the movie.
Since we were all in love with the books, it was fun to see the characters brought to life on screen.
When I was an English major in college, I had to read Shakespeare's plays a lot.
They were not easy reading, thanks to the antique language and unusual terms. But, the stories were fascinating.
After reading the plays, watching a film of one of Shakespeare's works was like eating dessert.
A friend of mine gave me the book “The Making of 'The African Queen” by Katherine Hepburn.
That friend knew that “The African Queen” is my favorite movie and she thought I would enjoy reading about how the movie was made.
I could learn all about the backstage workings and get acquainted with the stars. After I read that book, I enjoyed the movie a lot more. I've seen the movie more than 75 times and never fail to be thrilled with it.
If you are interested in some book-to-movie combinations, I have a few suggestions for you.
Just remember to read the book first.

“Oliver Twist” by Charles Dickens is not the easiest book to read.
But, when you watch the musical “Oliver,” the story comes to life.
True, the musical isn't completely faithful to the book, but the basic story is there.

“The Last of the Mohicans” by James Fenimore Cooper can be a confusing novel. There are a lot of characters and intricate descriptions.
I even had to get out an atlas to plot the movement. However, the story is an accurate historical fiction novel.
When you watch the movie with Daniel Day-Lewis, it might be slightly gory, but it does do a good job of bringing the story to life.

“Hamlet” by William Shakespeare – or, for that matter, “Romeo and Juliet” or “Macbeth” or any of the Bard's popular plays – can be a challenge to read.
You almost need an interpreter to navigate the Old English. But, if you watch Mel Gibson as Hamlet or see Franco Zefferelli's version of “Romeo and Juliet,” the language becomes secondary to the story line and characters.

“The Pelican Brief” by John Grisham is a book I couldn't put down.
I think I read it completely through in one day.
When I saw the movie, I was disappointed. Casting Julia Roberts and Denzel Washington might have seemed like a box office winner, but I would have preferred seeing unknown actors who fit the parts better.
And, as long as we are talking about John Grisham's books, his “A Time to Kill” was beautifully done on screen.
That movie actually rivaled the book.

Currently, young readers are enamored of “The Hunger Games.” The star of the book is Katniss Everdeen, played in the movie by newcomer Jennifer Lawrence.
Having read the book at the urging of my granddaughter Kiele, I can honestly say that I fell in love with Katniss.
I was not disappointed by Jennifer Lawrence.
She deserved the Oscar, folks. I am anxiously awaiting “Catching Fire” and “Mockingjay.”

It is encouraging to see young people getting excited when they see a novel they have read turned into a movie, a game, a poster, or a toy.
They also get excited about books when parents and teachers help them discover the magic of reading and the beauty of words.

By the way, 'Star Wars' can also be found in book form. Use the power of the force to get your kids excited about reading.

If you would ike to contact Dr. Smith, she can be reached at her email address: jsmith1313@cfl.rr.com.

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