There’s an interesting comparison to be made in the different experiences of reading a book and seeing a film. Earlier this year I went to see the film ‘Paddington’. The Paddington books have been an integral part of my life since childhood. As an adult I even got asked to leave a teachers’ centre library for laughing too loudly when reading about Paddington taking his driving test and I reread them all every year. Seeing the film took me a while to adjust to the image of Paddington on screen compared with the one I held in my head. I really enjoyed the film, but still felt it was a pale imitation of the written narratives.
Last evening I went to ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ at the local cinema. Given that I thought the book was not well written I didn’t hold out much hope for the film. However, it was a reasonable portrayal of the text – a two to three star experience. What I did find interesting was that I found the book far more erotic, despite its clunky construction and poor grammar and style.
So, does this mean that the written word is always better? I’m not sure. I certainly found the stage and film versions of ‘Les Miserables’ far more enjoyable than reading the book – but maybe that was because I read it in translation so it lost some of the beauty of the original language. And, to my embarrassment, I far prefer television or film versions of Dickens whose prose I find too detailed and slow of pace whereas, for me, no adaptation can beat reading Hardy.
I suppose I’ll just have to read more and see more films!