Tag Archives: Gatsby

Before You See the Movie…Read the Book!

The-Great-Gatsby-01

Our sister site, BSCkids, recently discussed the merits of reading the book first before watching some of this year’s most anticipated films including Warm Bodies, The Host, and Catching Fire. Here we discussed some of the more adult films coming out this year including The Hobbit and Gatsby. 

In general, film industry executives and production companies are more willing to finance movies that are based on books, since such projects automatically come with a built-in audience. 2013 proves to be no exception to this rule, as numerous page-to-screen adaptations, most of which are geared towards teenagers and young adults, are slated to premiere this year.

While it may be easier (and undoubtedly less time-consuming) to simply wait for the movies to open in a multiplex near you, you would be doing yourself a severe disservice and missing out on much of what makes these popular stories truly great. Cinema and literature are both art forms, and as such, are capable of expressing and conveying different aspects of the human condition. Film allows you to see fantastic worlds and iconic characters brought to life on screen, but it also presents a very narrow depiction of a story – by necessity, only one person’s vision can be immortalized on celluloid at any one time, and all too often, a director’s Sirius Black or Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry looks nothing like the one you pictured in your mind the very first time you read a Harry Potter book. Where movies enable the audience to quite literally sit back, relax, and enjoy the show, literature encourages readers to become active participants in the story, rather than mere bystanders. With books, you never have to press pause in order to go back and re-analyze a particularly mysterious moment, and there is nothing stopping you from reading a favorite scene over and over, delighting in the clever dialogue and beautiful imagery on the page. Books also have no fixed length, unlike movies, most of which run around an hour and a half long, and can thus go into more detail, focusing on background characters and subtleties that truly bring the fictional world of the story to life. For all these reasons, children and teenagers who are excited about 2013’s upcoming movies should make the time to hit up their local bookstore or library before going to the movie theaters. Try reading one of the suggested books below before you watch the film version, and see for yourself how much richer the experience becomes!

The-Hobbit-Part-1The Hobbit, or There and Back Again, written by J.R.R. Tolkien, is a quick-read of a fantasy novel that chronicles the exploits of a wizard, a band of mischievous dwarves, and a little hobbit named Bilbo Baggins. The book, much lighter in tone and style than Tolkien’s master saga The Lord of the Rings, is relatively short (at least by Tolkien’s standards), with a page count of around 300 pages.Most readers will be able to finish the novel in less time than it takes them to watch one of Peter Jackson’s sprawling, three-hour-long epic adaptations on film. Young children will love the antics of the dwarves in The Hobbit and will identify with Bilbo, a fun-loving hobbit fond of food and creature comforts, while older readers will enjoy meeting the character of Gollum for the first time and analyzing the ways in which the events in the book lead up to and foreshadow the darker tale of The Lord of the Rings. The second film in director Peter Jackson’s Hobbit prequel trilogy, entitled The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, opens on December 13, 2013.

The Great GatsbyThe Great Gatsby appears on most high school required reading lists for a reason – although it was first published in 1925, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel remains one of the most searing, heartbreaking depictions of love, loss, and the deception of the American dream ever to appear in print. The Great Gatsby so fully transports readers back to 1922 Long Island that, for the duration of the book, you find yourself half-believing that you are physically in the middle of one of Jay Gatsby’s infamously extravagant parties, surrounded by the smell of illegally-obtained gin and the swinging blare of jazz horns. Although young children will not easily grasp the subject matter or antiquated language of the novel, teenagers and advanced readers will be raptly drawn into Fitzgerald’s lively portrayal of the Roaring Twenties, and will identify with the book’s themes of social stratification, shifting gender roles, obsession, and disillusionment, themes that are readily recognizable to a generation of young people inheriting a world facing economic collapse, an increased gap between those that have and those that do not, and a growing sense of disenchantment with the supposed American “dream” of material wealth and mass consumption that has been handed down to them. Director Baz Luhrmann’s movie adaptation of The Great Gatsby opens on May 10, 2013.

And in case you missed here:

catching-fireCatching Fire is the second book in Suzanne Collins’ best-selling Hunger Games trilogy, and should not be missed by anyone planning on viewing the film. The book goes into far more detail than will be possible to explore in the movie’s short time span, introducing not only the entire resistance movement dedicated to overthrowing the Capitol but also a variety of fascinating, extremely complex adult characters like Finnick Odair, Annie Cresta, and Johanna Mason, all previous Victors of the sadistic Hunger Games who are still struggling to deal with the ramifications of winning. The novel is full of intense action sequences tempered by pivotal, oftentimes touching interpersonal moments crucial to heroine Katniss Everdeen’s individual growth as well as her changing relationships with Peeta, Gale, her mother, her little sister Prim, and her stylist Cinna. Catching Fire, as a book, is able to dig into a Panem that is darker and more complicated than the one portrayed in the PG-13 film version, and older readers will be attracted to the gritty reality that appears below the polished surface of the glitzy Capitol. The film version, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, opens on November 22, 2013.