Movies and Literature

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We have recently been talking quite a bit about Young Adult Fiction, both in our blogs and in class. In her earlier blog “When Young Adult is too Adult” Lauren Starnes questioned whether the Hunger Games was an appropriate book for the age group which it targets. I have both read the Hunger Games and seen the movie. The movie appears to be geared towards a similar age group, with a rating of PG13 and yet all ages have been clamoring to see it. It was interesting to see how the film makers managed to make the movie both appropriate for the younger ages and appealing to the older ones. The violence was definitely more subdued on screen than it was on the page. Peeta’s leg that has to be amputated in the book is miraculously healed. The muscular Katniss does not look at all to be on the brink of starvation when Peeta throws her the burned bread. We do not hear the agonized screams of Cato as he is being savagely ripped apart for a seemingly never ending amount of time. The children watching the movie are somewhat protected from all of the unpleasantness that the Games suggest.

Usually, these omissions would make an older audience shy away. They want the gritty stuff. But in this case it doesn’t. Critics adore the movie; people are raving about it. One of the main things the movie had made is to make the characters more mature. Katniss Everdeen is no longer the young stripling she is in the book. In the movie she is played by Jennifer Lawrence, whose 22 years makes her much more of an adult that 16 year old Katniss. All of the actors are older than their counterparts in the novels. This makes their emotions and their actions suddenly more believable (especially Katniss’s). In trying to make the movie more attractive to all ages, the film company has actually done the books a favor. They have brought the series and entirely different audience who will now want to read the rest of the series, for with an established cast of mature characters in mind, adults will not think of it as reading a children’s book- the Hunger Games becomes more appropriate for their age group as well.

What other movies have you seen that you thought made the book better?

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2 Responses to Movies and Literature

  1. Rod Smith says:

    Two films I saw before I read the books: True Grit (early–John Wayne, Robert Duval, etc.) and The Night of the Hunter. After each I thought, “There’s no way the book could be better,” but I was only half right. The Portis novel, narrated from the perspective of Mattie Ross, is almost pitch perfect. Fans of the True Grit film(s) will likely find that the words on the page are even more riveting than the images. But I was on target about The Night of the Hunter, which is the only film directed by Charles Laughton and is arguably Robert Mitchum’s finest performance (just ahead of Cape Fear). Shelley Winters and Lillian Gish are splendid in it, as well. The screenplay by James Agee takes the novel’s haunting gothic tale of evil, innocence, hypocrisy and pursuit (based on a series of murders in WV) and treansforms it from gothic to magical. The scenes in which the children, John and Pearl, head down the river in a skiff are beautiful, and every time Mitchum’s shadow appears, followed by his face, I still get a shiver. The man had a sneer like a demon. David Grubb’s book is a strong piece of writing and was a finalist for the National Book Award, but the film is an arrow to the heart.

    • Jim Groom says:

      Rod,

      I have to agree with you about Night of the Hunter, maybe one of the 10 or twenty best films ever made, and the idea that it was Laughton’s only go as a director is amazing. What’s even more amazing are the haunting scenes of Shelley Winter’s in the water or the scene with Mitchum and the “Love and Hate” sermon. The film is so unbelievably contemporary for being made in 1955, truly amazing stuff.

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