I am just going to jump straight in there with my opinion on this – yes I think watching the film of a book before reading the book spoils it completely. Although I am slightly biased in that I study English Literature and Language at University so would prefer reading the book first then watch the film afterwards. I find it interesting when watching the film to see if what the director envisioned the book to be like is similar to my interpretation of it, and if not how it differs and why that might be. When you read a book, everything you imagine from descriptions of landscapes to character’s personalities is that of your own imagination. However the interpretation that will be presented to you from a film will most likely be what you think of when reading the book.
If you watch a film first it completely spoils what is about to happen for you. However it is personal preference, for example some people would rather watch a film for 2 hours than say spend 10 hours (depending on the book) reading a book, simply because it is perhaps more relaxing to them and in this busy world is a lot easier.
In some cases I think watching the film is helpful when reading a book. For instance in A Level the whole class read ‘Wuthering Heights’ by Emily Bronte. This is now I would say my favourite book, but at the time I was so confused by the different Catherines, the names of the two houses and who lived in them at any given time, the fact that it is basically a story in a story then goes to present day and continues on. So watching the film whilst reading the book helped to aid my understanding of what was going on in the book!
However books are far more detailed than films and often in films the director tends to skip out bits that although probably were not crucial to the plot line but did add extra layers to the book making it more gripping and enthralling for the reader. A classic example for me is ‘P.S. I Love You’, by Cecelia Ahern. I fell in love with the book, reading it in a very short space of time because I could not put it down. So when purchasing the film I was excited to see it, but having watched it, yes it was a good film but I felt somewhat disappointed in the slight change of the plot because to me that was not staying entirely true to the book. Granted I know that for movies you have to give it the whole ‘Hollywood effect’ so more people will be likely to watch it but this is why you should read the book first. If you watched the film first then read the book you would expect the plot of the book to be similar, and it would perhaps confuse you or be an anti-climax if the plot changed. Another example is the second Princess Diaries film; they may as well have called it something entirely different! The book ( by Meg Cabot) was a completely different story line to the film. Both are very good but are very separate and to me it is perhaps wrong to associate a book with a film if they are nothing alike!
Do you think that watching a film first spoils a book? Do you think that you should read the book before a film to risk losing imagination? I would love to know your thoughts on this, so feel free to drop me a comment below.