One of my absolute favorite pastimes in the entire world is watching movies. I love the idea that for about two hours, I get a visual peek into a different world. It doesn’t matter if it’s a love story, painful life event, ghostly terror, otherworldly space adventure or even silly, immature shenanigans. The genre depends on my mood or maybe my mood is changed because of the genre. Regardless, the way that a movie takes me away, is similar to how a really good book will transcend what can be a normal life experience. The difference being that one is visual while the other makes me create my own world based on the words I read.
When reading a book, the author’s words paint a picture based on his or her description of the events happening. This description should perfectly create the world that the author sees when writing the book. Because each and every one of us has a different brain where the same words could give each of us a dramatically different picture, no book is the same experience for everyone. Movies are different in that we’re all shown the same visual world, but similarly to the experience when reading a book, the experience is still not the same for all of us. Our individual genetics, life experiences and moods will make us interpret the same information differently from one another. However, because of events actually seen in a movie, we can’t argue about what happened. There’s proof that something happened, even if the motives behind the event can be interpreted differently. A good movie will have subtleties and implied events that we almost see, but not quite. Those subtleties can be interpreted differently as well.
I love them both, books and movies. Movies move me but less deeply. It’s a more short-lived experience. I’m watching, not participating. Books, on the other hand, stay with me for a longer period of time, move me more deeply and because my own imagination creates the world based on the words read, that world is more real to me. After a good book, I will at times walk around feeling as if the world around me has changed somehow. I almost expect to meet the characters within the book, as exciting or terrifying as that may be. Books have moved me this way ever since I was a child and I think that those feelings have intensified with age, although I’m more quiet about it as an adult. I specifically remember playing outside as a child and living in the world of a book. Perhaps that world would be altered to suit me. For instance, maybe the misguided villain wouldn’t hurt me, but would instead look to me for guidance or maybe I have the key to take down the villain. We all want to be the hero or chosen one, right?
Those were good times…times when it was okay to pretend, before getting older and then listening to a society which tells us that it’s weird or crazy or immature to play. If you’re a professional actor, it’s your job to be someone else to the point of even feeling emotions. Actors are applauded for making us feel. It seems to me that when we’re children, we’re all Method actors, becoming whomever we want to be without the fear of embarrassment or ridicule. As adults, one can only “play” if announcing to the world that we’re acting, therefore making it acceptable to be behaving differently. Interesting, huh?
Let’s face it though, while some movies scare us, make us laugh and even make us self-reflect, others are just plain and simple silly fluff. Fluff movies are great for a laugh, usually at something that we know we shouldn’t be laughing at. They’re also great for lifting spirits without making us think. You know which movies I’m talking about, don’t you? Or are you too mature to admit that you enjoy them from time to time? That’s ok….I’ll keep your secret. I’ve heard people say that they like “more cerebral” movies and would never waste time or money on the fluff. Well I’m here to say that I’m secure enough to admit that after a long day and maybe a glass of wine or two, a fluff movie is at times exactly what I need. I don’t always want to put on my thinking cap or deal with the emotions that a more cerebral/thinking movie may bring out. To me, each type of movie has its own time and place. I’m not ashamed to admit that.
Bring on the zombies, fart jokes, space travel, love stories and serial killers. The only movies that I shy away from are the ones where a child is missing or hurt or dead. I just can’t handle those, not since becoming a parent myself. Now if it’s in the movie, Taken, with Liam Neeson, then I’m good with it….partly because I LOVE LIAM and partly because… well, I don’t want to be a spoiler if you haven’t seen the movie.
So how do you feel about reading a good book and then hearing that it’s coming out as a movie? I feel excitement and worry when this happens. If it’s truly a great book then a movie never seems to do it justice. There are exceptions, of course. I happen to feel that while the Harry Potter movies couldn’t have all of the details of the books because of the time restraints, they’re still exactly what I wanted that world to be like. Special effects help greatly when it’s a science fiction story. However, I recently read a book called Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. I found this book to be riveting and now I’ve read that it’s coming out as a movie. The antagonist of this book is so scary to me because this person could actually be someone walking among us. I finished this book hoping that I never ever have contact with a person like that. I sincerely hope that the movie version will bring that character to life in a way that terrifies us all.
Which do you prefer, books or movies? Or is it theatre? Now, that’s a subject for a new posting someday because there’s nothing like live theatre!
Teresa, your book loving, theatre going, movie buff.