Film adaptations are meant to entertain while capturing the main idea, while stories are written to inform. The Authors have all the time and space upon which to divulge information, while films have to inform you by context clues. There is an old saying, “picture” are worth a thousand words and film makers try to capitalize upon that simply because they do not have the ability to tell you in words all that is require to comprehend the story. On subject matter that film makers often struggle with in film adaptations is how to represent the mentally handicap. They often have to walk the fine line of realism and insensitivity.
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One of my favorite adaptations of a book into film was the story “Rain Man.” It was based in the 80’s featuring Tom Cruise as Charlie Babbit, and Dustin Hoffman as Raymond Babbit. Charlie discovers that his estranged father died and left all of his multimillion-dollar estate to his other son. Charlie up to that point was unaware of Raymond existence and the story is about the road tip from Ohio to La where Charlie intends to take Raymond to meet with his lawyer and try to get his fair share of the estate.
The story is about one’s education of autism and the daily struggles for normalcy. Especially troubling is the fact that Raymond can remember and recall complicated fact with almost no error, but has a problem with daily life. For all intensive purpose he seems to possess above average intelligence and yet is lacking common sense. Charlie after discovering his brother’s unique talents tries to exploit him by taking him to Vegas to count cards, as the story progresses Charlie becomes more protective of Raymond including towards the end when he intervenes when the psychiatrist presses Raymond to choose with whom he wants to have custody of him. Many of the quarrels about the movie was that there was too much action and not enough attention was paid to the in-depth learning that happened during the book. One has to realize that Tom Cruise is a “action” star and not cast as a sensitive warm and cozy guy. So there is a reasonable expectation from is fans that if Tom Cruise is in a movie he’s going to have to kick some butt. Obviously the maker of the movie wanted to cash on Tom’s pull of audience and as such they had to placate those fans and gave them what they wanted.
The Story of John Nash, presented in the book and film “A Beautiful Mind” is another such moment where filmmakers had to present a subject of mental illness on the silver screen. In this case however the subject was a world renown, Nobel prize winner and as such the story was captivating enough to not need any smudging in order to bring audience to watch. In fact the film was actually less abstentious then the book. There were immense pressure on the director to present Nash in a positive light and he did that quite well while still presenting the key plot, of Nash’s delusions.
Both Novels and Film are different in medium as well as aim. Both have a need to inform and entertain, and they’re both quite effective at accomplishing both. While its easy to rage at every minor difference one notices between the two, its often quite helpful if you ask yourself what was the point of the novel, and the movie. I think most people can decipher the authenticity of the work by the director and cast, and from that have a great toolkit from which to view. While no one would take the news from Saturday Night Live to be the same as that from ABC, one would expect that the news from ABC and CNN should correspond with that for their daily circular.