When there is a film coming up that you want to see, but it is an adaptation of a book you have always meant to read, do you try to read the book first, or do you see the film, and then maybe catch up with the book afterwards? I was talking about this with my second son J (yes, Yorkshire pudding in answer to your recent enquiry- short for Jeremy!) who is mad on films. I always like to read the book first. I had bought Atonement, but he was saying that Empire Magazine, which is his film bible, had said it was better to see this film if you had NOT read the book first. My immediate question to that was how on earth would a reviewer know that? Either they were coming from a perspective of one who had read the book first, or from that of someone who had not, so how could they know which would be preferable.
Well now I have read the book and I have read the review. What it actually says is -
If you’ve read the book, you know what’s coming. If you haven’t, count yourself lucky, and watch with your heart in your mouth as events build to a climax barely halfway through.
I am not going to give anything away in case anyone seeing this has intends either to read the book or see the film or both in which ever order, but having read it, and I can't get it out my head some four days since I finished it, I think I kind of wish I hadn't read it first. I was left shattered by the way McEwan concluded the book, (and being a dumb bitch I hadn't picked up on the various clues he had dropped in as the story progressed,) but how will the way the book ends be translated on screen? And how will I be able to bare watching it knowing what is likely to happen? And if the ending is not as it is in the book, is it inevitable that I will come away thoroughly pissed off that the film was not 'true to the book?' Or will I find the film as glorious as all the reviews are promising it is and be able to leave the memory of the book itself aside?
Yet I am still overwhelmed by what was one of the best (and sexiest) books I have read in years, and can't recommend it enough to anyone who hasn't already read it years ago. But as to whether you read it before or after you see the film, well as this lot would have said, "I'm sorry. I haven't a clue."
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