I think movies ruin imagination. That was how I felt when I finished The Golden Compass just days ago. Almost every word in the fiction refreshed my memory of the movie. Mrs. Coulter reminds me of Nicole Kidman, Lord Asriel unceremoniously brings James Bond into this world of daemons and I could hear Gandalf’s voice all the way from Middle Earth. I deplore such recollection.

In reading fiction, I appreciate having my own imagination. The author of course is the primary shaper of the world. The words in The Golden Compass after all are his words but then again, words are just words. Words do not describe everything and that gives readers some room to contribute to the world as each page is turned.

But a picture worth a thousand words. And a video may worth a gazillion of words. While reading Pullman’s work, I struggled to create my own world and instead, I found myself borrowing how Asriel, the Gyptians, the bears and many others looked like from the film. The film managed to describe everything, for better or for worse, that it imprinted perception in my mind. To erase that perception and create anew, or something in parallel is hard.

This is quite unlike how I felt when I read the Lord of the Rings many years ago. I am proud to say that I read the book well before it reached Hollywood. Now, Tolkien wrote an epic and the resulting imagination I derived from his work is something of biblical proportion. It resulted in a building of a world unlike no other. That is part of the satisfaction of reading a book.

That satisfaction has been robbed from me as far as The Golden Compass is concerned. I found myself stuck at how the film represents the world. So, as I turned the last page of the book, I found myself disgruntled.

I did enjoy the book nonetheless and putting it down was harder than I had suspected. I usually read before I go to bed and whenever I read, I hope to stop reading before midnight so that I would not wake up on the wrong side of the bed. The Golden Compass is one of those books that made three hours feel like three minutes and made me yawn endlessly at work.

The next book is The Subtle Knife and a movie is expected to be release in 2009. Since I already have the whole trilogy in my hand and that how I do not appreciate watching the movie first and reading the book second, looks like I have no choice but to read The Subtle Knife at once!

But I am divided. I was reading A Farewell to Alms before I picked out The Golden Compass and I would really want to finish Clark’s before finishing Pullman’s. But I want to know what happened to Lyra! And I really want to know how why the whole trilogy is hostile to religion.


Let me flip a coin.

2 Responses to “[1666] Of movies ruin imagination”

  1. on 26 May 2008 at 11:30 nat

    haha, i don’t share your antagonism about movies, but def think the problem will be dispelled over next two books – there’s a whole lotta new world!!!

    so, go ahead and read! i agree, it’s hard to put down. i zipped through it, and found it thoroughly satisfying. i’m quite sure you’ll find no lack of fodder for imagination :)

    i think you’ll enjoy the take on religion as well :)

  2. […] I had never read a book after watching its film adaptation. I am usually dismissive of those who do that. I admit, I am arrogant to this kind of stuff. I think it is a feeling of those listening to alternative less-than-mainstream music have on those listening to commercialized songs like Britney Spears or Backstreet Boys. When Lord of the Rings came out in 2001, I spent excessive time deriding those who fell in love with Tolkien’s works because of the movie. I felt like a puritan, like those religious conservatives watching liberals as if the latter suffer from grave moral erosion deserving in the lowest level of hell. On top of that, watching the movie before reading the book ruins imagination. […]

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