This essay I am writing will compare how Steinbeck, the author of the novel and Siniise, the director of the film both achieve similar effects on their portrayal of characters, creation of atmosphere and use of dialogue. There are also significant differences in the ways each person creates the atmosphere such as Siniise not including the hallucinations that would detract from the pathos of the scene.
In his novel Steinbeck uses the first four paragraphs purely to describe the setting of the scene. There is a strong emphasis on colour, for example he illustrates the pool of the Salinas river as “The deep green pool was still” which gives an association with calmness and tranquillity of the surroundings. To define the lighting of the surroundings he uses a metaphor of the suns movement “The sun had left the valley _ climbing up the slopes of the Gabilan Mountains” this assonance is of the sun moving like a person.
In the second paragraph he introduces the wildlife into the scene and its silent movement, for example “motionless heroin” which gives a still calmness of the wildlife and the surroundings. In the third and forth paragraph the only sound that broke the silent calmness was the wind which is specified using a simile “like a wave” which gives us a sense of how quiet it was to be disturbed by a gust of wind. These paragraphs are portrayed in this detail to show that it would be a good place to hide for Lennie as it is very quiet and there is no indication of humans being nearby.
After the four paragraphs of the detail description on the surroundings and atmosphere, Lennie appears suddenly out of the brush. . Lennie’s movement is characterized as “silently as a creeping bear” which is not silent at all because a bear is big and noisy. This breaks the silent calmness in the nature which scares wildlife away. When Lennie comes to the pool Lennie is frightened when a bird skittered behind him when narrated “his head jerked up and he strained toward the sound” this shows Lennie is very distressed and is in a state of high apprehension and is also aware of what he has done. Soon after Lennie’s arrival he starts to hallucinate his aunt Clara out of his head who frowns at Lennie and spoke in lennie’s voice.
She starts to tell off Lennie for not caring for George: “You never give a thought to George” This shows that Aunt Clara was a defining force in Lennies life. When Aunt Clara went back into lennie’s head a giant rabbit came out and also shouts at Lennie for being irresponsible and tells Lennie. The rabbit tells Lennie that George will not let him tend the rabbits and instead will beat him and will leave him. Lennie argues with the rabbit and covers his ears calling for George which clearly shows Lennie’s fears of being abandoned. This hallucination of the rabbit is the symbol of his dream, which he has now lost. Finally the rabbit goes back into Lennies head while Lennie is now screaming George’s name, George comes quietly out of the brush.
Now that George has finally come to meet up with Lennie, Lennie starts to tell George the terrible things he has done but George sympathetically says “It don’t make no difference” to help calm down Lennie. Steinbeck still goes on describing the light as “only the topmost ridges were in the sun now” and “The shadow in the valley was blue and soft” this is used to give a sense of silence to the conversation of George and Lennie. George’s mind is always concerned of the men chasing them.
Lennie now starts to wander why George isn’t telling him off and George is surprised that Lennie remembers what he says but not the past. The conversation then goes on with George describing what he would do if he didn’t have Lennie like he has done in the past but in a slow dull way as it shows “His voice was monotonous” this id to show he thought it wasn’t important right now because George is really thinking of the people chasing him and what he is going to do. Lennie then asks George to tell him about the difference between them and other workers to cheer Lennie up because Lennie likes to rein formed of the situation as it says “Lennie cried in triumph”
It is now evening and George took off his hat and told Lennie to do the same it says “he said shakily” this shows George is scared because he hears the shouts of the men closer. He then asks Lennie to look across the river and listen to the story of their future so “you can almost see it” he says. As George starts to tell the story he reaches into his side pocket for Carlson’s gun which is called “Lugar” which is idiomatic language. He then looks at the back of Lennie’s head where the spine joins. He then raised the gun but his hand shook and his hand fell to the ground again.
Then he starts to recite the dream with nervous pauses in between. Lennie innocently finishes the sentences and starts the second for George to repeat and carry on. Lennie tried to look at George but George again told him to look to look at the river and again George innocently did. To show his reliance on George it says “Lennie obeyed him” even though Lennie could sense something wasn’t right. George then assured Lennie of the story by saying “Ever’body gonna be nice to you. Ain’t gonna be no more trouble. Nobody gonna hurt nobody nor steal from’em” this also shows the reader why George is about to kill Lennie.
George now heard the footsteps in the brush and said to Lennie “I never been mad _. That’s a thing I want ya to know” he then raised the gun, steadied it and he pulled the trigger. Steinbeck characterizes the echo of the tragic death using a metaphor “the crash of the shot rolled up the hills and rolled down again. Lennie then slowly dropped to the ground without quivering. George shivered and looked at the gun, and then he threw it from him. The group came bursting into the clearing and slim went to George telling him “A guy got to sometimes” which is a similar event to the dog being shot by Carlson instead of Candy but this time it was the right person.
George was now distraught as he told Carlson “I just done it” tiredly and was helped up to his feet by slim. Finally Carlson uses some idiomatic language and says to Curley “Now what the hell ya suppose is eatin’ them two guys” which is a powerful ending as Slim and George new that Lennie was a nice person but like a big strong baby who couldn’t understand or control himself and that is what caused him to get into so much trouble. The climax created at the end of the novel is exceptional; the affect of the death of Lennie for the sacrifice of friendship gives an emotional sad ending.
In the film Siniise does not use the same method of starting the next scene; he does not show the clearing first with suddenly Lennie appearing. He first shows George running through the woods with both non diegetic sounds of dramatic music and diegetic sounds of the trees rustling and the footsteps, using a tracking shot following George running. This involves the viewers with the intensityand the feelings of the action This then straight cuts to the dogs in close up, running with only the diegetic sound of the horses behind and the dogs barking and then another straight cut to the dogs and the horses in a distance fixed shot as if they are coming closer again with only diegetic sound. The film does not show Lennie’s arrival to the clearing and his hallucinations of his aunt Clara and the giant rabbit. This is because he Siniise does not want to show the hallucination to detract from the pathos of the scene. The next camera shot is George arriving looking for Lennie in the brush using a tracking shot. Then the camera shows Lennie in the pool unlike the book sitting outside the pools edge.
Then there is a fixed distant shot of Lennie in the pool with George starts to run towards him and then a tracking close up shot of Lennie and George running towards each other with diegetic sounds of splashing and them speaking. There is then a long shot of the dogs and horses still showing the horses and dogs run through the camera to give a sense that they are gaining on them. Then the camera goes back to the main shot of Lennie and George talking with only diegetic sounds of them talking, the birds and the dogs in the distance with close ups of who ever is talking. When Lennie asks George to recite the story the camera is on a fixed shot close up in front looking at Lennie who is on his knees and George behind him also on his knees with only diegetic sound of them talking, the wind and the dog.
The lighting of the scene is high key lighting and is used well to give the sense of a blue shade of the evening. Then there is a mid shot when George stands up and shoots Lennie. There is another difference of the timing of Lennies shooting in the film, the film shoots Lennie during the dream story while the novel shoots Lennie after George has finished the story and told Lennie how no one will ever harm him again. When Lennie is shot there was only diegetic sound of Lennie talking but as soon as he is shot the straight cuts to a long shot of Lennie on the floor. The silence when Lennie is shot makes it very dramatic and the single loud gunshot to create a big impact.
There then is a close up of Georges face in distress looking down at the floor with only diegetic sound of the nature. The camera then goes to a side view of both Lennie and George with the same sounds. Again there is a close up of George but tilt shot of George’s gun to his face with the same sounds. Again the camera shows the side angle of both of them fading away to a scene of only George in a train with non diegetic sad music added to the diegetic train sounds. In this scene there is only low-key lighting shinning on his face like the moonlight and the camera is doing a rolling shoot close up on Georges face to show Georges emotions as the main focus.
This scene was not included in the book as the book makes the men come in and see Lennie dead there with Slim comforting George and them going off together but I think the director wanted to emphasise the fact that George was now alone and their dream was lost. The scene of the train dissolves into the last scene of an old event when Lennie and George working together and walking away together. There is a sound bridge of the sad music passing on but with no diegetic sound to show that it could be George’s memory of them together. Finally the last scene fades away into the credits.
In conclusion to my essay it is clear that there are more than significant differences and comparisons between the film and the novel. But both Steinbeck and Siniise used there roles to create the surrounding atmosphere to the best way to suit there situation. For example Siniise did not include the hallucinations as he thought it would detract the pathos of the scene and in addition included George on the train by himself to accentuate Georges loneliness of travelling alone now like everyone else.