Saturday, 10 January 2009

Why movies make me want to read

When I was a little girl my grandparents used to tell me stories all the time and introduced me to colorful characters as my beloved Winnie the Pooh, Rupert Bear, Peter Rabbit, Paddington Bear,... starting my life long love affair with literature. They also introduced me movies, the Hollywood classics to be precise which also instigated my blossoming affection for the motion picture.

However when puberty kicked in, I lost all interest in stories that took longer than 2 hours to unfold. Movies became the only fictional stimulant that interested me. I even vividly remember than whenever I had to do a book report I'd choose a book that had already been turned into a movie in order to avoid reading. This is the sad and shocking truth, I couldn't be bothered and this attitude progressed well into my early days at university. By then we had internet and I could just Google a summary so I didn't even have to watch the movie anymore. And suddenly after my first two years at UA (University of Antwerp of better yet "Unprecedented Agony") I became interested in books again, literally over night. I couldn't get enough of them. The stories, the authors, even the object just fascinated me.

Don't get me wrong, when I was a teenager I didn't avoid books altogether. It occasionally happened that whenever I really liked a movie, I'd be tempted to read the book in order to relive the movie. How weird is that? Most people usually start out with the book and than watch the movie, knowing it probably won't live up to the expectations created by the book. But no, not me. Movies have often inspired me to read and they still do. I also loved to watch BBC adaptations of the classics: Tess of the d'Urbervilles, Tom Jones, Great Expectations,... which afterwards also made me want to read the novels. If it wasn't for them, I'd probably have read very few classics despite my studies.

The point, I think I'm trying to make is, is that for me books and movies have always gone hand in hand and often really enrich each other. The same is true for Possession, the book I choose for our first book club meeting tomorrow. It was turned into a movie in 2002 starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Aaron Eckhart. I went to see it because I love Neill LaBute's work (Nurse Betty, The Shape of Things, In the Company of Men to name a few) and to tell you the truth I had never heard of the book before. Once again, I really liked the movie and went out to buy the book a few days later. For some reasons I never read it and probably never would have if it wasn't for the book club which would have been a shame because it was quite good. It wasn't an easy book as A.S. Byatt intertwines a contemporary and a Victorian literary romance into one intricate tale filled with prose, poetry and good old fashioned correspondence.

Another example is Twilight. As you all know I read the first book and thought it was OK, nothing to gush about but fairly entertaining. I saw the movie this week and absolutely loved it. Granted it's still a girly picture but they changed certain aspects creating not only more suspense but also some humor. And seeing as the movie only lasted two hours, the lovey dovey parts had to be toned down which was my major concern with the book. I even loved it so much that I ordered the sequels at once. I know, I didn't like the book but I'm dying to find out what happens to Edward and Bella thanks to the movie. I know, I'm strange.

My final example of why TV turns me to books is The Witches of Eastwick. This movie already dates back to 1987 but I really liked it when I was younger, although it's been a while since I've seen it. It was based on a book by John Updike, author of the entertaining Rabbit series and known as the "chronicler of suburban adultery". Oh, and he also won a Pulitzer Prize. I've haven't read that many of his books (only Villages and Couples) but I love his characters and storytelling. Anyway, seeing as I like his style and also loved The Witches of Eastwick (despite not having read the novel), I was very excited encounter his sequel: The Widows of Eastwick. Needless to say, I'm dying to find out what happened to Alexandra, Jane and Sukie...

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