‘Which is better the film or the book

‘Which is better the movie or the book?

The argument over the high quality of literature over movie or frailty versa seems to rise up its caput every clip a major piece of literary work is adapted. Even unchecked success narratives such as Peter Jackson’sLord of the Ringsstrilogy have heretical voices unhappy with his alterations and skips. However alterations and skips are perfectly necessary when accommodating 100s of pages of prose into a twosome of hours of movie. This essay will look at how narrative is adapted and retold in two movies ;Mrs Dalloway( Marleen Gorris, 1997 )and The Color Purple.( Steven Spielberg, 1985 )

Mrs Dallowayis non a conventionally narrated novel. Over the class of a twenty-four hours it follows the eponymic supporter through her readyings to host a party and how the unexpected reaching of am old suer makes her reminisce about her young person. At the same clip we see how Mrs Dalloway and her associates lives intersect with that of a shell-shocked solider. What is produced is a type of Mosaic narration, which is so left for the reader to construe and spot significance.

In the beginning of the movie as she walks about London on her manner to roll up the flowers for her party we are allowed to see minutes of her young person in flashback. These flashbacks are by and large triggered by something in the present. For illustration a meeting with Hugh reminds her of how Peter Walsh ‘never to this twenty-four hours forgiven her for wishing him.’ ( Woolf, p 8 ) These are transitioned in and out of aurally, as she hears voices of people she knew in her caput and the ocular waits a round before transitioning back every bit good. This replicates the Mosaic narrative manner of the book.

There is nevertheless one major difference between the beginning of the book and the beginning of the movie. The character of Septimus ( Rupert Graves ) is much more rapidly established as a major character within the movie. In the book he is introduced as a auto blowbacks and he is shocked stiff by it although no immediate ground is given why. Over the class of the novel we learn more about his experiences at war and the permanent consequence upon him. Mrs Dalloway and Septimus ne’er meet in the novel, yet we are led to spot they are connected thematically through the Mosaic narration.

The Film version ofMrs Dallowayclears with a brief sequence of Septimus ( Rupert Graves ) in the trenches of universe war one. The shooting is thick with fume and is filmed in slow gesture to give the sense of a dream sequence although the rubricItaly 1918suggests that this is a flashback. The camera easy zooms into Septimus face singling him out as the supporter of this sequence. We see his reaction to a friend being blown up by an detonation and as he sinks into desperation the fume fills the screen melting it to white and demulcent focal point. This soft white background so becomes the curtains in the sleeping room of Mrs. Dalloway ( Vanessa Redgrave ) .

These two environments could non be more different ; nevertheless the passage is non clashing or unsettling ; we are taken from the horror trenches into the heathen and elegant universe of a Whitehall socialite with the greatest of easiness. The passage leaves the spectator with the feeling that the two people’s lives are someway connected, but possibly is non as subtle and gently persuasive as the book.

The Color PurpleTells the narrative of a immature black adult female in the Deep South. It is about the subjugation and maltreatment she suffers in a racialist male chauvinist universe and the bonds of friendly relationship she finds with other adult females. The climactic emotional minute of the novel is the sequence ion which Celia tells her hubby that she is go forthing him and traveling to Memphis. The duologue signifier the scene in the movie is taken about word for word from the book. It is a minute of great personal emancipation for Celia, and a minute of antic public presentation from the remarkably reticent Whoopi Goldberg. She has been abused and sub-serviant all her life and she eventually has adequate sense of ego worth to talk up burden and strongly. “You’re a lowdown Canis familiaris is what’s incorrect, I say. It’s clip to go forth you and come in into the creation.”( Walker, p180 )

First of all the scene is set in Mr.____’s ( Danny Glover ) House as opposed to Harpo’s ( Willard Pugh ) in the book ; this is important because it has been Celia’s prison for several old ages ; a topographic point where she has been continuously abused. This adds excess dramatic tenseness to the scene and focuses it on Celia. However this does to some extent detract from the discharge of the other characters such as Squeak ( Rea Dawn Chong ) and Sofia. ( Oprah Winfrey ) In the novel there are uninterrupted mentions to Squeak being Harpo’s kept woman and female parent of his kid. This is less outstanding in the movie and as such leaves Squeak ‘s going with much less dramatic weight. Besides the movie omits the visit of Eleanor Jane and mention to Sofia’s probation. In the novel Sofia is denied her emancipation by the legalities she is still embroiled with, the movie alternatively reinstates Sofia as a dominant force at the dinner tabular array.

What is clear from this scene is that although as the narratives protagonist Celia’s narrative discharge has remained integral, skips have had to hold been made on behalf of other characters within the novel due to the narrative restraints of clip.

Film can endeavor to copy the stylistic signifier of literature successfully as in the instance ofMrs Dallowayor unsuccessfully as in the instance of The Bonfire of the Vanities ( De Palma, 1990 ) In certain instances such as The Godfather ( Coppola 1972 ) and Jaws ( Spielberg 1975 ) the movie version can excel the beginning stuff. Although statement other which signifier is better may be mere sound and rage ; direct comparing of the two different narrative signifiers can take to a better apprehension of narrative itself.


Bordwell and Thompson. ( 2001 )Film Art: An Introduction,New York: McGraw Hill.

Kawin, B ( 1992 )How Movies Work, London: University of California imperativeness.

Thompson, K ( 1999 )Storytelling in the New Hollywood: Understanding classical Narrative Technique.London: Harvard

Walker, A ( 2004 )The Color Prurple, London: Pheonix.

Woolf, V ( 1996 )Mrs Dalloway, London: Penguin popular classics.


Bonfire of the Amour propres( Dir Brian De Palma, 1990, US )

Color Purple, The( Dir Steven Spielberg, 1985 US )

Godfather, The( Dir Francis Ford Coppola, 1972, US )

Jaws( Dir Steven Spielberg, 1975, US )

Lord of the Ringss: The Two Towers, The ( Dir Peter Jackson, 2002, US, New Zealand, Germany )

Mrs. Dalloway( Dir Marleen Gorris, 1997, UK )

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