This week I finished The Coldest City by Antony Johnson. It is a graphic novel that takes place about 2 days before the Berlin Wall comes down in November of 1989. The movie Atomic Blonde is based on this book. But before picking it up I faced a dilemma: do I read it before I see the movie or after?
I chose before. Generally my preference is to choose before and here is why. I can put my vision on the characters as I see fit, within what the artist has allowed for me to do. Plus, I am getting the original source material. No “jazzing up” or “artistic license” – just the pure unadulterated story. And I get to choose my favorite parts because I am experiencing this story untouched.
But what if I choose after? Ok, I get the story, so I know what to expect. Plus, if there are additional scenes, I can see the contrast between the original story and the film, and decide if the changes worked without the “I read it first” bias. And, finally, I can comment on the movie based on it’s own merit and complement or criticize because of its own successes and failings, not because it is “different” from the source material.
Ultimately, 99% of the time I will choose reading a book before watching the movie. The source material matters to me and if you care to only use it as a guide as opposed to an actual map, then we may have issues, especially if it is something near and dear to me. I have yet to see this cold war thriller, but the fact that it is the reason why I typed “cold war thriller” puts it on my short list of things I heart this summer. Let me know: do you read before or after? Or maybe you’re during… let me know what you think!