Thursday, November 12, 2015

Thoughts on Movies and Books (And Books Made into Movies)

Matt and I went out to the movies this week.  I can name the last four movies I saw in the theater--The Martian (2015), How To Train A Dragon 2 (2014), The Lego Movie (2014), and Avatar (2009).  Heck, they may have been the last four movies I watched period (I'll have to think on this).  I'm just not a movie person.  When I watch screens I tend towards cartoon television shows since I am willing to use 25 minutes of my life that way.  Committing to a couple hours though...I usually have something else I'd rather do.   When we do watch movies we tend, as you can tell from the list above, to lean toward cartoon movies, too.
Perhaps this is why my recent viewing of The Martian was a bit of shock on my system.  It was intense in a way I don't think I was prepared for.  The initial scene where Mark is swept away by a martian dust storm was way more distressing than my mind had made it as I read the book.  My brain failed to factor in the noise, blackness,and terror to that level.   I am sure the cinematic depiction would be fairly accurate, but my brain wasn't that extreme in its visualization as I imagined it while reading.  My brain also minimized the impalement he suffered.  The movie did not.  Definitely did not.  So much so that Matt and I both closed our eyes and only opened them again when Mark stopped making that terrible noise.  Who wants to see that?!  Yikes....  Even thinking about it days later it still makes my face wrinkle up in revulsion.
Its interesting though and got me thinking.  Its like my brain has a safety mechanism to protect me from such graphic horrors when I'm reading.  (Except that one time with the hatchet to the head scene in Battle Royale which literally made me sick to my stomach so I  had to put the book down for a while.)  With film, because the images are created by someone else , the horrors just get thrown at me, ready or not.  Blood, pain, violence, devastation, sorrow, loss, suffering.  I think that is one of the reasons I'm willing to read books about subjects I'd never stomach in movie form.  I'll read a murder mystery, but watching CSI and SVU with all those close ups of bullet wounds and stuff...no thanks.  I guess I am not cut out for such dramatic video anymore.  I don't need or want those images in my mind and the ones I create are always more mild.  I can imagine pain and loss and violence as I read, but I never make it as bad as hollywood does.  As a result, I can still enjoy the occasional comedy flick, but yeah, this The Martian thing has me thinking maybe I should just skip the live-action dramas from now on...no matter how compelling the book was.
Plus, The Martian as a book was much, much better than the movie.  Go figure.  I think they did a fine job of it, really, but without having read the book I think it would have seemed much less impressive.  I knew a lot of background stuff that was skipped over in the movie.  All those little details add up to a significantly greater richness of story.  So, the movie was fine, but the book was vastly superior.  I should have just stuck to my I-don't-watch-movies-based-on-books adage.
When I finally read Harry Potter last year I deliberately avoided watching the movies afterward with Matt.  Same with The Reader, The Clan of the Cave Bear, or The Secret Life of Bees, etc.  That is my thing.  I don't watch movies that were based on books.  One of the things I love about reading is creating the picture of events in my head--my mental imagery of the setting, time, and characters.  I don't want to risk that the film version should supplant that internal portrait.  For example, I read The Shining long before I watched the movie.  Even still when I've reread the book since then all of the sudden Jack Torrance is pictured as Jack Nicholson.  Boom.  Just like that.  Jack Nicholson has wiped out my version of the character from when I originally read the book.  I don't like that.   I elected to watch The Martian because, while the book was very enjoyable, I don't see myself reading it again.  That eliminated the concern that I'd be picturing Matt Damon instead of Mark the next time I read the book.  I don't regret watching the movie--it was still a nice night out with my hubby--but I am not sure I enjoyed the movie as much as I thought I would.  I must say that the movie did a dang good job of showing what an insane job being an astronaut is though.
All photos from Yellowstone National Park.
At least I got the movie tickets for free since I'd earned a bunch of "Hero Reward Points" for donating blood.  I had no idea I'd get more from donating blood than feeling good about helping people.  Its a double win.

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Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts and ideas. I value the advice and friendship that you share with me!