Sometimes I see a movie is being released and make sure I read the book first, so I can enter more fully into the experience of the movie. I remember seeing the first promotional shorts of The Lord of the Rings about nine months before the first movie was released, and determined then and there to read the books. My enjoyment of the books was enhanced by the movies. I did learn early, however, that movies and books do not always agree, and sometimes, the movie does no justice to the book at all. And sometimes, the movie is better than the book. I remember seeing and enjoying The Time-Traveler’s Wife a few years ago and enjoyed it so much I soon read the book. What a disappointment! The idea was original and creative, and it was well-developed in the movie, but the prose of the book just did not do it for me. I felt let down by poor execution. Maybe if I had not seen the movie first I would not have felt this way about the book.
My dilemma: I have just finished The Book Thief my Marcus Zusak. The book was passed onto me with a high recommendation by Mike Parsons when he returned to the UK in 2009. I have only just got to it, and loved it. At the same time I have been reading around Barth and Barmen, Bonhoeffer and the Confessing Church, and so history and story have been swirling around in my mind.
The book is simply and beautifully written. When I began reading I was pleasantly surprised by how simple it was, not at all like some literature (and some theology) which sometimes aims at incomprehensibility. Yet as I read I often found myself caught, not only by the power and pathos of the story, by the characters and creativity of the tale, but by fresh and startling metaphors and wonderful turns of phrase. The book, or more accurately, the story, has touched me. I want to sit with it for a little while; I know I will read it again sometime, if life persists.
But should I watch the movie? Will it enrich or diminish my experience of the book? Or maybe watch it, but not yet?
What do you suggest?