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Indifferent Imaginations
by Xavier Jones-Barlow

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Read a book? I'd rather have a lobotomy!

"Read a book? I'd rather have a lobotomy!"
Everybody and their pet Cat proclaims that the book is always better than the film. The reason for this is too obvious to mention, although I feel it is my duty to spell it out for you. When reading a book your imagination is allowed to run free, the situations and environments are open to your own interpretation, unhindered by budget, unrestricted by the scope (or lack of) of the persons playing your characters and the point of the story, if there is one, unfolds itself to you when you are ready for it. There are other reasons, like the opportunity to discover more about the people involved, and the journey they take. But the general consensus is that it is a more rewarding to read a book than to 'dumb down' and just watch the movie.

This is a misconception that I wish to challenge, as I am getting slightly miffed that too many people have been led to this assumption and refuse to perhaps open their minds to the fact that this may not be strictly true. I think that this situation has arisen over the years by, initially, a small group of people who were either rejected by the film industry or chose to reject film as an art form. Some things are true. It is very fair to say that your imagination can run unfettered when reading a book, but is this a good thing? The sad fact is; there are plenty of people out there who simply don't have the cerebrum for imagination, whereas you or I would read a book and find it rewarding and emotional, there are a large amount of people who prefer to simply be told what to think. This means two things; the authors writing these books are to be commended for wishing their stories to be experienced and the production crews and directors who adapt them for the big screen deserve kudos and much back patting for the sheer bravery and skill that they bring these stories 'to life'. It is a sad irony that the folk who lack the ability to lose themselves in their own minds are the first to criticise film for its rigid composition.

I think it is important to point out that the purpose of both the movie and the book is to tell a story. That is what is important, not the medium that it is presented in. The fact that there are plenty of adaptations out there simply suggests to me that the movie community feel they have to bring these stories to a wider audience. We should be thankful of this.

This brings me nicely to a point that is not only overlooked, but before now never mentioned to me. The first 'plus' for film. The reason why, and my motivation for babbling on about this is straightforward and simple. I was going to present to you a comparison of ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST, an example of a literary classic and film genius. But, and I am quite ashamed, I just haven't got round to finish reading the book. I'm not lazy; in fact I have been very busy lately. I like to read, it is just that I have to read a lot in my current life. So far it is a good book and I am really enjoying it. It is just that to read I prefer to be in a certain state of mind, interruptions are not welcome, and there is an ever changing limit as to how much I can read in a single day without words blurring and eyes popping out. These problems when digesting a book are immediately vanquished once you put a film on. I do not find it strange (well I did, but I don't now) that in the same period of time I have been trying to finish Ken Kesey's book I have watched the film twice.

It is just easier to watch a film. I do not feel that this is a bad thing at all. Not in the slightest. One aspect of modern living is that we are all trying so hard to fill our lives with meaning or struggling to fulfil our obligations we must be allowed to relax and let our minds go once in a while. Reading a book is just too hard for some of us, time, children and environment just may not allow it. Whereas a film can take up just two hours of your time, you need no extra concentration prowess and most importantly, more often than not, the vibe and purpose of the story gets conveyed just as powerfully. You just didn't need to spend nine hours reading to get to the second to last chapter. I also feel that with film your mind is guided to envisage the aspects of the story that are important. For example, the reader may well be spending too long dreaming up Nurse Ratched's physical appearance while the film watcher is busy living inside the head of a mentally disturbed individual, which is one of the many purposes of this particular work of 'fiction'.

So, next time someone says the book is always better ask them why. The next time you hear someone suggest that they don't have time for film ask them how! And as film lovers maybe it is our turn to resort to the snobbery that the so-called intellectuals enjoy prescribing too. We have just as much artistic aplomb don't ya know!

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Xavier's Book Club
Every other Saturday

Xavier analyses film, literary. A bizarre melding of books and movies.

Other Columns
Other columns by Xavier Jones-Barlow:

My Month As A Teenage Girl

Mr Jones and the Shame of the Spolier Scolls

Fragment: Consider Revising.

Proof Reading The Movies #1

The Cinematic Chicken And The Literary Egg

All Columns

Xavier Jones-Barlow
Xavier lives in Scotland where it is very cold. He spends his time writing about live bands and people dreamt up in his bizarre imagination. Quite huggable .

If you have a comment, question, or suggestion, you can send a message to Xavier Jones-Barlow by clicking here.

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