A Cautionary Tale: Never Let Me Go and the perils of watching the movie first

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I saw “Never Let Me Go” years back. Can’t remember why. I can remember a few scenes, a few scattered bits and pieces. That’s all.

But it still wrecked the book for me.

I’m not giving the standard complaints here: I didn’t mind that things were spoiled. The art of a great novel is a joy in itself–when reading, a good reveal makes for a fleeting satisfaction, while the crafting is makes for lasting.

It’s just that I couldn’t stop trying to imagine the actresses I remembered from the movie. I couldn’t stop trying to force them into the novel. Couldn’t stop wracking my brains to remember whether this scene occurred in the movie too.

That’s the real reason to read a book first. Because the movie will force itself on the book in a way that just isn’t possible in reverse. Reading a book first enhances the enjoyment of a movie: you see an interpretation different from your own, and you can appreciate the whole thing in a new way. But when you see the movie first, that interpretation has already become “the only one” in your mind. It’s hard to get away from that.

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One thought on “A Cautionary Tale: Never Let Me Go and the perils of watching the movie first

  1. Bipasha says:

    Last year I read Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go. Though I enjoyed reading it, I must say it left behind a pensive sort of mood long after I had put the book away…
    I did watch the movie a few years ago, but luckily for me, it had completely let my memory 🙂

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