I never know whether to read the book before seeing the movie or vice-versa.
Luckily enough, I’ve studied enough literature and enough films to understand the differences between these two expressive languages. Different story-telling techniques make a great book as opposed to those that make a great film, and a film can err just as readily by being too faithful to the book it’s adapting as it can by disregarding too much of its source material. (Exhibit A: Kenneth Branagh’s Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.)
That perspective helps me regardless of which direction I travel (book-to-movie or movie-to-book) with a particular text.
Still there are times when I make a very decided choice of what direction I want to travel. It’s not always the same direction, ‘cos I’m complicated that way. Sometimes I make a very strong “movie first” choice, and sometimes I go all-in for “book first.”
With Just Mercy it was a strong “book first” directionality.
The book’s been on my radar for quite a while, and I remember hearing about the movie when it came out in 2019. Then it all came back more strongly onto my radar last spring, when the film was made available for free in the early wave of last summer’s #BlackLivesMatter protests.* When a co-worker shared this tidbit of news on our social email chain, there were several other colleagues who shared how the movie was totally good, but paled in comparison to the book.
So I moved Stevenson’s book closer to the top of my reading list.Continue reading “Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson”