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Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Film vs The Novel

Hello, Fire Enthusiasts. How has your week been?

I thought I would tell you about something that happened this past weekend. For Good Friday, my wife and I took a rare day together, leaving the kids at home (not that they noticed). We started with a late breakfast, did some shopping, saw a movie, did a bit more shopping and then completed the evening with a great Italian dinner. It was a wonderful day and something that my wife and I should do more often; especially having been together for nearly 23 years.

It's the film that we saw that I want to discuss. We saw The Lincoln Lawyer.

I'm not the biggest Matthew McChonaughey fan in the world and, thankfully, he only removed his shirt the one time (Lol!), but I enjoyed the film. It had an all-star cast that included Marissa Tomei, Ryan Phillipe, Josh Lucas, John Leguizamo, Bryan Cranston, Francis Fisher and William H. Macy. For someone my age or older, you'll also be surprised to see a familiar face as Michael Paré makes an appearance. Country music star Trace Adkins also co-stars as does Michaela Conlin who plays Angela on the hit series, Bones.

On top of the great cast, it is a good story, based on the novel by Michael Connelly: Criminal defense attorney Mickey Haller(Matthew McConaughey) operates around Los Angeles County out of a Lincoln Town Car. Haller has spent most of his career defending garden-variety criminals, until he lands the case of his career: Louis Roulet (Ryan Phillippe), a Beverly Hills playboy and son of real estate mogul Mary Windsor (Frances Fisher), who is accused of the brutal beating of a prostitute. But the seemingly straightforward case suddenly develops into a deadly game of survival for Haller.

I thought the film was very good. In many films we spend most of the time trying to figure out what is going to happen, and who the guilty party might be. In this one, we find out who is guilty very early on, and then need to watch and see how Haller must get out of the corner that he is trapped in.

My wife, on the other hand, was not a fan. Why, you ask?

It was because she had just read the book...

The book is almost always better than its film version. Basically, the only ones who might dispute this are people who refuse to read. However, regarding those who love both mediums, this is hardly a debate at all.

Rather than spoil your viewing of the film, if you have yet to see it, I won't take any time to reveal what was so different or altered from the book. I only want to discuss the two mediums. What are your feelings with regard to this subject? Do you read the book first or watch the film first when there is a choice? Why?

Are there some examples where the book wasn't better than the film? I'll stir things up right away by declaring that, since I did not grow up with Tolkien, my initial experience of LOTR came from Peter Jackson's vision. I did finally read the books, but I did not like the staggered approach to time. I didn't care for reading about half of the Fellowship, only to have to go backwards in time and see what the other half of the Fellowship was doing at the same time. It was disconcerting.

I would love to hear what you think.

We'll talk soon.


  1. I used to always read the book before the movie came out. Then I wouldn't like the movie. And sometimes I'd see a movie first, then read the book, and be disappointed with the book.

    I've finally wised up and realized that reading the book and watching the movie need to be spaced out several months! If I give at least 3-4 months between reading a book before seeing the movie (and vice versa), then usually I've gotten enough distance where I can enjoy the movie for what it is.

  2. I love Matthew Mc as a lawyer. I read a Time to Kill then saw the movie and thought they did a decent job and thought Matthew was gorgeous. So yeah, I'd see him in another lawyer movie. I go to movies being realistic that it will not be better than the book.
    And good for you to take a day with your wife. My hubby and I had dinner together last week alone and we hadn't done that in so long.

  3. I do an either or approach. If I watch the movie, I won't read the book and the other way around. It just ruins the experience for me. so, if "Dance On Fire" becomes a movie . . .

  4. Thanks so much for commenting, you guys. I have sent you e-mails. I hope you get them.

    Have a great weekend.


  5. Thank you for your kind review on my blog! It's so great to meet other writers this way. Technology is amazing. It's hard to believe we can make friends with people states, and continents away. Good luck with your sequel!

  6. Thank you for stopping by, Melissa. I have said this before, but the friendships that I have made over this past year or so have made this writing adventure so much fun.
    Take care.


  7. Okay, Jimmy, for special friends I will make an exception to my movie vs book statement. Crap! I'll even spring for the popcorn.

  8. I love films like these, and latho I don't care for McConaghy much either, he does lawyers pretty well. Loved him in A Time to Kill.

    But mostly the books are always better, which is why I prefer to read after seeing the film, but it's still fun seeing how everything measures up to how you imagined it when you read first.

    However, there are a few stories I prefer the film version of over the book's ending:

    Count of Monte Cristo (most recent film version)

    And LOTR books are very long and drawn out, the Jackson does a great job of capturing the essence of the story without boring us to death. So it's up there for me as almost being better than the books.

  9. I can guarantee I would have agreed with your wife. I always, ALWAYS read the book first, and almost always love the book more than the movie. I want to see WATER FOR ELEPHANTS, but I refuse to see it yet because I haven't read the book (it's on my in line). I saw TWILIGHT before reading the book, and I still liked the book more. I really want to see the LINCOLN LAWYER, which means I need to read the book!

    It's wonderful that you and your wife spent the day together. We should all do that more often. My husband and I will celebrate 22 years this Friday, so I guess we'd better make plans :D

  10. Hi, PK. Thanks for the comment. You are so right with regard to your list of films that did better than the books. I wholeheartedly agree with you. To this day I have yet to finish Monte Cristo. The film was awesome, but I found the book lacking. Perhaps it was dated. I don't know.

    Have a great week.



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