Friday, 6 November 2009

Films or Books?

This is not going to be a blog post discussing whether the book is better than the film or the other way round. In this case there isn't even a book. It's just a film. What I want to discuss is films or books in general.

Some people seem offended when I say that I haven't watched many films. In average I watch 5 films a year. This is not because I don't like films. One reason is that I've never had access to my own DVD or video player. It wasn't until last year that i discovered that I could watch films on my laptop ... So I'm obviously not that bothered. Another reason could be that I didn't watch much TV as a kid or a teenager. I think watching a few bad Hollywood films really put me off. I thought that's what all films were like. I had a big problem (and still have) with action films. They are too fast for me. I can't follow what's happening and can't even figure out who's the good guy and the bad guy ...

It feels like I've got a lot to catch up on. A couple of years ago, thanks to working in the library, I discovered that there are quite a few good films around ... The films labeled "World" or "Arthouse" or "Artifcial Eye" are my favourites. In short: alternative films set in France, Romania, Poland or any European country that is not Britain ... Then there are few Asian films that really appeal to me, mostly because of their visual impact.

I don't know what has happened. I've now watched two films in less than a week's time. I think I'm procrastinating editing and re-writing the end of Replacing Angel ... And somehow I really don't feel like reading, apart from the brilliant handbook Writing Fiction by Janet Burroway.

Tonight I watched 4 months, 3 weeks & 2 days by Cristian Mungiu. It's set in communist Romania in the 80's and is about a girl who has an illegal abortion. Well, it's not really about the girl who's doing the abortion. It's about the girl's friend who supports her ... That made me think of Replacing Angel. You'd think my novel is about Angel - she's the one with the real drama - but it's really about her friend Natalie. So now I feel quite inspired to get back into writing again ...

But back to the topic ... I get offended by people who don't read. Sadly, in my opinion, most people seem to watch more films than they read books. This includes a lot of my good friends and people working in the library. For me watching a film can never replace reading a book. I prefer creating my own images in my head and do it at my pace. Often I lose the plot in a film because I see things that makes me think of other things and the association machine is in full action ... This happens when I read as well. But the beauty of reading is that you can stop and take a breather where each paragraph ends. O.K. I know you can press the pause button when you watch a film, but it's not very convenient to do that every 5 minutes ... Especially not if you watch it with someone else. I don't even like watching films with other people because I often feel embarrassed that I don't understand things that they do. This has nothing to do with English being my second language, I have the same problem with Swedish films!

Then there are other things I like better with books ... The fact that you can carry them with you and read wherever you are. It's possible to dip in and out. To read for only 10 minutes a day, whilst you'll have to set aside at least two hours to watch a film and as time is precious to me I'm afraid of wasting two hours of my life on a bad film and I don't often get a chunk of time with nothing to do anyway ... Reading is also more active: you have to concentrate hard and you have to turn the page now and again instead of just sitting down and staring at a screen.

So, dear blog readers ... how many novels have you read this year? How many films have you watched?

I've read 28 novels and watched 4 films. I think I'll reach my average of 5 films a year as I'd like to watch Let the right one in. Mostly because it is based on a novel and I want to compare the two different medias ... Once I've watched it, I can write another blog post - on the topic whether the film is better than the book or the other way round.

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