This should come as no surprise, since it is one of this blog’s primary purposes for existing: I’m an avid reader and have been since my brother taught me my ABC, when I was a wee mite of four. There is something about the written word which feeds a deep and profound need in me: the need of letting my imagination run free.
Of course, at first, I was reading books with images. Then, as my vocabulary grew, I moved onto bigger challenges: no images. And my imagination ran completely unhinged. I learnt to lose myself into the worlds created by the various authors I grew up with. And I loved it.
As a teacher, I also try hard to share this love of the books to the pupils. When some thrive on teaching them math, science, history, my goal, on top of the mandatory subjects, is to try to help kids love to read. If I succeed with 10 kids during a school year, then I call it “mission accomplished”.
How do I do that? By showing them that, when a writer is good, you do see the action of the book like a movie. You see the characters in your mind’s eye, you hear their voices, you feel their emotions. But as much as they came from someone else’s brain, you make them yours because you have your own vision of them from the descriptions you were given. The better the writer, the more you “see”, and the more you love, no matter the fictional genre you prefer.
This is why I have a real issue with the trend of people wanting books turned into movies, or wanting one famous actor or another playing this character or that. It has become a complete obsession with so many! And I am seriously at a loss to understand it.
Let’s be honest, here: a movie or a TV show based on a book rarely does the book justice. There are, of course, exceptions. The British TV series of Pride and Prejudice comes to mind. I don’t think I will ever see Mr. Darcy not being Colin Firth again. But this is because the series was extremely close to the book, too. And the acting was perfect. A rare exception, that.
Do I want to see my favourite books become movies? No. Never. Because there will always be something missing from any of them: the part my imagination brought to them, which would be forever stained by someone else’s imagination. Again, that is my own personal opinion.
This is the same way as I never picture an actor when I read about a character. With one exception: since I read the second Hot Damned book, when Astrid goes to Hell and meets Satan (who became one of my favourite book characters), I never could help but picturing Tom Ellis. If you ever watched Lucifer, you understand why. Like in the show, Robyn Peterman’s Dark Lord is sexy, cunning, extremely sexual, punishes the evildoer, and acts on what people desire. So my brain made the association and kept it. Right or wrong, I don’t know, but that is what my brain told me.
Sometimes, I will fall upon the picture of a model and just look and say, “OMG, it’s [this character]!” But it doesn’t mean that this was the author’s idea, or that I would like to see this model in a movie of that book. It is, simply, that the person looks that the image that was in my head when I read the book. In other words: a coincidence. It also happened a few times when I saw people on the bus or on the street: a person would look exactly like my idea of a certain book character. Coincidences.
That is what is fun about reading. As I wrote, it is the whole “taking an author’s world and idea and making it my own”. Not someone else’s vision. My personal vision, which is most likely different from that of another reader. I don’t see an actor (except Satan), I only let my imagination run free with the descriptions I read. My own personal movie, with my own personal cast of “unknowns”.
That is why I simply can’t with the “movie obsession” of several readers. I prefer keeping my own image of the characters, my own idea of their voices. Except Jamie Fraser. Sam Heughan is Jamie Fraser, same as Colin Firth is Mr. Darcy. However, this is, for me, extremely rare.