If there is a movie based on a book, do you prefer to read the book or watch the movie first?
Me, I'm a read the book kinda gal. I like to have the whole story in my head before I watch the movie. I like to grump about how they changed the storyline or how a character was miscast or changed too much from the book.
Last week I rented the movie Appaloosa because I thought my husband might want to watch it. It is directed by Ed Harris, one of my favorite actors, and has Jeremy Irons and Viggo Mortensen in it. Oh, and it also has Renee Zellweger in it. I rented it anyway.
We weren't really excited about watching it because the cover shows two cowboys on either side and a woman in-between. There's no doubt about what's going to happen. Two guys who have worked side by side for nearly twenty years are going to meet this girl, fall madly in love with her, and, since they are gun-slingers, have a shoot-out over her. And Renee Zellweger is that girl. Random. But it has Viggo in it, so I decided it was worth a watch.
Westerns haven't been that great for ... well, they've always been kind of hit and miss. John Wayne had some really solid movies once he got his feet under him. Lonesome Dove was great. The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly made me feel like I'd had about ten hours of my life sucked away into some Bad Movie Black Hole. Tom Selleck had some great westerns in The Sacketts and Quigley Down Under - the tv movie Crossfire Trail wasn't bad. And I'll watch any western that Sam Elliot is in. Really. Any western. Which brings me to Tombstone. This isn't good for my heart. Better get back to Appaloosa.
So since westerns are a hit and miss genre, we weren't expecting much. It was good. Really, really good. We're going to own this one. If it hadn't have been for the miscasting of Renee, it would have been amazing.
The story does not take you where you expect it to. There is no fight over a woman and the movie sympathetically but realistically explores different personalities and relationships. It's a bit slow to get going, which I didn't mind since that seems to be a hallmark trait of good westerns. I got some keeper lines from the movie also - classic cowboy lines.
Right before the credits started rolling, there was a blurb stating that this movie was based off of a book, so on my next trip to the library, I checked it out. It was really good, but not page turning since it turns out that they kept the movie really close to the book. They changed a few scenes, condensed a few scenes, pretty much left out a character, and elaborated on a few issues, but other than that reading this book after watching the movie was like reading the screenplay. I've never seen a movie that kept so close to the book. The author does a good job of frankly portraying the situation that western women who were not married were in - the character almost completely left out in the movie was a prostitute who really should have been included more.
So for this book/movie, which would I recommend you take on first? The movie. Since they are so similar, what's the harm in reading the book and picturing Viggo every time you read about Hitch? Hmmm?