Books vs. movies vs. books
By Erin Kernohan-Berning
Published Nov. 22, 2017
One of the movies at this year’s Haliburton International Film Festival was Julieta directed by Pedro Almodóvar. Julieta is based on three short stories from Alice Munro’s Runaway, transplanting her Southern Ontario Gothic story of love and loss to Spain.
People often ask which they should do first – read the book, or watch the movie. The answer – contrary to popular wisdom – is that in most cases it really doesn’t matter. Fantastic book to film adaptations are everywhere – big budget blockbusters like Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings, dramas with A-list casts like Remains of the Day, small budget films like The Sweet Hereafter, and the Bollywood inspired Slumdog Millionaire.
When too much value is put on reading the book before the movie, it usually just results in a guilt-filled viewing experience and never reading the book at all for fear of it being spoiled somehow. But this almost never happens. My mother, who loved the film Remains of the Day, recently read the novel. Because she enjoyed the movie, she then enjoyed reading with Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson voicing their characters in her head.
The transition of a story from page to screen is always an interesting one, particularly when adjustments are made to characters, plot, and setting. In the case of Julieta, Almodóvar moving the story of Juliet in Munro’s stories from Canada to Spain led to a snowball of changes – but all with the aim of being true to the heart of the story.
In a Fast Company article by Christine Champagne, Almodóvar talks about how he discovered Munro’s work, and his process of creating a film out of those stories in a way that paid tribute to the source material, but also stayed true to his artistic vision. While reading before watching or watching before reading will affect the experience you have in different ways, different does not mean better or worse.
The interesting relationship between Julieta and Runaway makes for great conversation fodder, so HIFF and Haliburton County Public Library would like to invite you to the Rails End Gallery on Thursday, Dec. 7 at 2 p.m. to have a book and film discussion.
This discussion is going to be a little bit different than your typical book and film discussion in that anyone can join in, whether or not you have read Runaway or watched Julieta. We hope that joining in will entice you to read or watch in whatever order you choose. Julieta and Runaway are both available to reserve at the Haliburton County Public Library.