There is nothing as exciting as reading a book first and then viewing the movie. Let’s face it, without writers, there would be no films. When the producers and directors borrow an author’s work, I am quite certain that it is a daunting task.
How closely will they follow the actual story line? Will they take a few liberties or several? If the authors are still alive, will they be contacted for consultation? If the authors’ works are used posthumously, will their visions be respected?
I recently read two British novels by Elizabeth Gaskell and then looked at the movies. They were Wives and Daughters and Cranford. Both were done in mini-series formats by the BBC. Wives and Daughters was done in four episodes and I watched it on YouTube. I really liked it and though the characters are never look quite as imagined, they did a fine job. They stayed true to the course and the acting was superb. Many of the actors have been seen in other British projects.
Cranford, though named after Gaskell’s book, was a compilation of events from three of her books. However, like playing jacks, I was able to pick up bits and pieces of scenes that I remembered from the actual book. Liberties were indeed taken but no one could argue that it was magnificently done.
I then traveled stateside and read Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser, an American author. What a read! Carrie moves to Chicago around the 1900’s and looks for work. Her job as a seamstress is too strenuous for her so she ends up moving in with the dashing Charles Drouet who treats her well enough.
He does not marry her but begins to see her worth after she is a hit as a stage actress. By then, she has also caught the eye of the polished George Hurstwood and they start meeting in secrecy. She has no idea that he is a married man, though unhappily. He tricks her into taking a long trip to Detroit and Montreal but they end up in New York where she finds her place on the stage.
The 1952 movie is called Carrie and Laurence Olivier, Jennifer Jones and Eddie Albert play the leading roles. I rented it after finishing the book and I can see why Laurence Olivier’s name lives on as a revered actor. To me, a lot of liberties were taken because Carrie was portrayed as a much more loving person than she was in the book. Perhaps, her coldness was too stark to show in a woman of the 1950’s.
George was an accidental thief in the movie and not a man who contemplated the robbery of his employer’s coffers as revealed in the book. A scene was also added whereby his employer decided to give his earnings to his wife to perhaps accentuate his reasons for escaping her financial control.
Carrie had me sitting on the edge of my seat as I noted the similarities and the differences from Dreiser’s Sister Carrie. During the summer, take time to continually crunch down that reading list. If a movie has the been made of that book, view it and simply compare the two!
Lynn M. June 15, 2019
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