Of Mice and Men: the Movie versus the Book - Movie Essay Example

Of Mice and Men: the Movie versus the Book

The good thing about classics such as John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men is that it has in-built drama and power that will make for a superior movie adaptation.  On another note however, it’s the same timeless features that pose greater challenges for a filmmaker because its natural strength as a printed work surely demands that it be re-told with justice.

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Watching the 1992 adaptation makes a viewer think that this Depression novel was written just yesterday for the screen (Howe, par. 2).  The novel could be taken as the movie’s first draft.  The movie did not attempt to outdo its inspiration but conveyed the essence of the story just the same.  The movie was faithful to the novel.  The film version kept it as it is—a fine story as it is simple (par. 7).

One major difference in telling the story however is the approach.  While Steinbeck kept his descriptions at the minimum, the movie captured the scenes in an ever-moving saga.  Set in Californian golden wheat fields, the movie started with characters on the run.  It showed a woman in a torn dress running away while two friends are running in another direction for their lives (par. 4).

The novel settled with minimal depictions of the scene and instead centered on dialogue.  Other than good photography, the movie also showcased scenes not originally in the novel to sustain the mood.  If Steinbeck described the situation through dialogues, the movie let the scenes speak.  It must be understood however that “Of Mice and Men” was originally done for theater and only has four sets.

Instead for one major change, the characters in the movie were carried out in the same fashion as in the book.  Curly’s wife in the movie version was treated with more importance than in the novel.  Extra scenes were developed to portray her character as more predatory and later on transforms into a victim of spousal neglect and abuse.

Another plus for the movie is the fact that it downplayed the novel’s political subtext which calls for humane socialism.  The film version instead focused on the human condition.  It went down to individual lives and unique human experience.

The story narrates the journey of two friends whose bond is established based on one’s needs and the other’s ability to satisfy those needs.  They compliment each other so much so that the mentally-retarded Lennie gets into trouble when George is not around while George would not dare fulfill his dreams without Lennie.  The two main personas really needed each other.

The traumatic ending however was more painful and dramatic in the novel than in the movie.  George felt considerable pain down his chest when he shoots Lennie in the book but does it so easily in the movie.

The small changes however did little to take away the value of the movie all together.  The film version was an honest portrayal of the book.  Rarely do adaptations outdo, let alone equal, the printed version but this 1992 flick surely topped the novel in some ways.

The changes were minor and did nothing to detract the narrative.  The photography was compelling, the story-telling was uncluttered, the extra scenes were useful, the dialogues were honest the characters were real.

Over all, the good thing about the film was that it remained true to the novel.  The screenplay was pure and lean just like Steinbeck’s original. Everything was clear and makes sense within every context.  The screenplay obviously realized how important the original text was in making this film a critical success.  It was dramatic but was too careful not to go too far and scrap the value of the story.

Just like the book, the movie version still showcased a timeless story of two men who have nothing but their thin dreams to gaud them.  The characters as ordinary people expressed their troubles clearly as they go about their thankless ventures.  It was a classic tale of friendship, pain, and self-discovery.

The movie could very well pass as a good adaptation for a great book. The film version followed the novel very closely, so it should not disappoint readers.  The original story was kept in-tact and most of the elements of setting and mood are present.  For those who have read and adored the novel, this movie version will surely not disappoint.

The absence of theatrics and excessive embellishment made for an honest and direct film.  The telling of the tale remained grounded and the emotions stayed low-key.  The creators of this movie did it the old-fashioned way—nothing too fancy, nothing too over-the-top.

The movie successfully showed the drama as depicted in the conflict between man and man.  The movie’s portrayal of this conflict was automatically compelling.  It indeed satisfied the deepest human impulse.

Nearly eight decades since its conception, Of Mice and Men, whether the printed or the film version remains a timeless piece that tells the story of solitary lives with the same meaning and the same emotional truths.

Works Cited

Howe,  Desson.  “Of Mice nd Men.” Washington Post. 16 October 1992.  09 September

2007.    <http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/style/longterm/movies/videos/

ofmiceandmenpg13howe_a0af22.htm>.

 

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