I haven't mentioned it, have I? Brokeback Mountain is based on book by Annie Proulx. Many films have their origins in books, so this raises the problem...should you read the book before watching the film? I know many people, especially those who enjoy reading, who insist on reading the book before watching the movie. And, yet, there's something wrong about this approach.
Usually, people make movies about books that people love, or at least, have had some critical success. For example, Kazuo Ishiguro's Remain Of The Day was the winner of the Booker Prize, a British prize for best novel. It was made into a film by Merchant-Ivory-Jhabvala, near the height of their filmmaking. Yet, films often do not live up to the books they are bases on. Books can delve into the motivation behind what a character does. Without resorting to voiceover, films can't do this. And most screenplay writers will tell you that voiceover is a cop-out. Show, don't tell, is the mantra of filmmaking.
The biggest problem with reading the book, other than having the film not live up to the book, is that it may reveal secrets or plot twists that you'd rather not know. I'd rather read about these twists in a book after watching the film. Since a film is constrained by a running time of two hours or so, and a book is not, there are often more pleasures from reading a book even after the film is watched.
Yet, one reason people read a book before the film is so they actually read. Once the film has been watched, the motivation to read the book is often greatly diminished. There's very little reason to read it after the fact. I have the novel, Mysterious Skin, which was made into a film by Gregg Araki. I'm still only sporadically reading it. I'd like to read more of it, but haven't found the time or desire to do so.
That leads me to my dilemma. Should I read Brokeback Mountain or not? Unfortunately, I've read some spoilers already. This is the risk one takes by trying to read about the film. Many people, including me, are not particularly careful with spoilers. They tell you the secret because by golly it's really hard to keep the secret. By already know the spoilers, I might as well read the book, yet I prefer to watch a film with as unblemised an experience as I can get away with.
Often, though, what you imagine the film to be, and what it is, can be two different things. I knew, for example, that Tropical Malady split its narrative in two halves. I was half-expecting something far more fantastical in the second half, akin to a Terry Gilliam film. Perhaps it's good that it didn't take that route, because I found, say, the world presented in Gilliam's The Brothers Grimm to be visually, but not emotionally, compelling.
In the end, I think I won't read the book until the film comes out. That won't be until December, so I still have a few months to change my mind.
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