Tuesday, 14 December 2004

Do Android Books Dream of Electric Movies?

The Lord of The Rings: Return of The King Extended DVD version is finally out! I can't wait to get my grubby hands on a copy. Unfortunately, I ordered it online from Amazon so I could get a slightly cheaper price, and so I have to suffer the agony of having to wait for it to arrive AFTER Christmas. Sigh...

Anyway, the buzz has got some of us LOTR fanatics talking about it, and yesterday, I was talking to Liz Tai about it when the topic came to whether one should read the books first or watch the movie first.

The topic popped up when she saw an ad for the Earthsea TV miniseries, and asked me whether I would watch it. I said I would rather read the book first. Then she asked, "Do you HAVE to read the book first?" To which my answer was... "OF COURSE you have to READ THE BOOK first. It came out FIRST! It's THE ORIGINAL!"

As you can see, I'm very touchy over the subject of movie adaptations of books. Even when it comes to the LOTR movies (which I really, really like), I can't stand it when people tell me that they like the movies, but not the books. Or worse (gasp!), they have NOT read the book NOR watched the movie at all (IreneQ, please stand up and take a bow).

I've mentioned before in this post here the reason why I get upset at people who tell me they watched the LOTR movies but never read the books. Because they are not using their own imagination to form their own ideas about Tolkien's world, merely taking for granted that what Peter Jackson has in the movie is what LOTR looks like.

For all you know, Tolkien's idea of how Legolas looks like may NOT have been Orlando Bloom, but was actually Danny Devito!

Ok, maybe that example IS a little far-fetched, but it's true that before the movies came out, there was not one EXACT version or image of Legolas or ANY of the stuff in Middle-Earth. Everyone imagined the characters, the places and the events differently. THAT's the beauty of reading a book. You IMAGINE it IN YOUR OWN MIND.

With a movie, you just stare at the screen and accept what is shown there. From now on, EVERYONE who reads LOTR will be imagining Legolas as Orlando Bloom, Frodo as Elijah Wood, and Aragorn as Viggo Mortenson. And that spoils the beauty of reading a book.

The vast and infinite imaginative possibility that was once the books has been reduced to sequence of pictures and movements on a screen that people just watch without using their imagination.


Entertaining as I found the LOTR movies, I lament that loss of imagination that future readers of LOTR will experience.

Anyway, to go back to the topic of books versus movies, my argument is simple - if the book came first, then read the book first before watching the movie (Unless the book was by Michael Crichton, in which case, don't bother. He probably writes his books with one eye on selling the movie rights anyway).

After all, the original VISION, the original IDEA and the original SOURCE of the movie in the first place is the BOOK. and the key word here is ORIGINAL. Without the book, no movie. Simple as that.

Movie adaptations also have the tendency to put people off reading the book, because "I've already seen the movie, so why read the book?" I find this incredibly irritating, not only because less people would be reading, but also because the true essence of the book as envisioned by the author is lost forever to that person who is too lazy to go beyond watching a movie and actually using his mind for reading.

Yes, I'm bitter about this subject.

Yes, I've been rambling.

And YES, if anyone would like to rebutt me on this subject, feel free to do so, but be prepared for another rebuttal in return.

And DON'T even get me started on BOOK adaptations of MOVIES.

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