After having read the original version and the more recent film adaptation of John Steinbeck’s majorly successful novel, Of Mice and Men, the apparency of differences between the two is at times subtle while also being very obvious during different portions of the movie. In the film there are several major differences between the movie and the book with three being particularly apparent. We are shown the differences through the portrayals of characters, Lennie’s sanity and, simply, the scenes themselves.
When watching the film, the first difference the viewer can see between the book and the movie is how the characters are portrayed. A notable example would be Carlson. In the film, Carlson seems to play a much larger part compared to the information given in the book about his character. He is introduced much sooner in the movie and appears to be a part of many more conversations. On the opposite side of Carlsons portrayal is Crooks’. In the book Crooks is characterized as a much more active character.
An example of this would be when Crooks interjects in the farmer’s conversation to let Slim know that he had finished preparing the tar for fixing the mule’s hoof. The filmmakers changed this scene so that Crooks was not involved at all and that George prepared the tar instead. Another massive difference between the book and the movie are the acts themselves. Going back to the previous point of Crooks and the tar, the scene when George took the mule into the barn to fix its hoof is altered drastically.
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The impression given to those who have read the book as well is that it was changed because Steinbeck used it as a way to flesh out Curley’s wife’s character. This scene was likely changed because there is no narrator and instead we are given a visual explanation of Curley’s wife through her actions. Also, almost the entirety of chapter four is removed or altered in the film. We are shown only a quick conversation between Crooks and Lennie which is interrupted by George who scolds Lennie for going into Crooks room. In the book, Crooks, Candy and Lennie all have a grand conversation about the farm and the dream of having their own land.
Crooks opens up to the men and seems to leave his shell so to speak which is followed by Curley’s wife entering and tearing him down. This is a strange scene to leave out based on how important it seemed to be considering it shows more of Lennie’s character as well as Curley’s wife’s cruel side. Finally, at the end of the novel Slim, Curley and Carlson find Lennie dead and George with the gun in his hand. George lies and tells the men that Lennie had Carlson's gun and that he took the gun from Lennie shot him in the back of his neck.
Slim tries to console George by telling him “You Hadda George. and the two walking away for a drink. Curley then asks Carlson what's bugging the two. This scene was completely cut out of the movie and replaced with George's flashbacks which seems very odd considering how important it was to the novel and the idea that not all dreams are meant to be. The final major difference between the movie and the book is Lennie’s personal sanity. In the book, the reader is given multiple instances clearly showing that Lennie is not totally there so to speak. The best example possible is when Lennie hallucinates about Aunt Clara and the giant rabbit.
This scene is removed in the film and instead Lennie seems to just be a very confused person with a low thinking capacity. The film seems to try and have Lennie appear to be a character who is innocent and has just been dealt a bad hand in life. In the book, however, Lennie’s outbursts seem to be much darker in their description, particularly the murder of Curley’s wife. These three differences between the film and the novel are ways of seeing how the director of Of Mice and Men chose to show in a visual way some things differently from Steinbeck’s descriptions.
One cannot expect an adaptation to be a complete carbon copy of the original it is based on and it would seem as though the film was successful in bringing out the meat of Steinbeck’s story. These changes could, to some, seem either miniscule or large depending on how the reader (now the watcher) interpreted the book. The movie also won critical acclaim and exposed many people to Steinbeck’s writing, something that would make people who disliked the film because of its differences appreciate it a bit more.
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