8 December 2011
Contrasting Atmosphere between La Confidential, the novel, and La Confidential, the film
Adapting a novel into a screenplay is an extremely difficult prospect as the film has to convert the image that was captured over several hundred pages into a few hours of video. Challenging as this endeavour may be, few novels present as daunting a challenge as La Confidential, written by James Ellroy. Ellroy’s epic masterpiece features almost 500 pages of several intriguing and complex plot threads, nonpareil disturbing graphic violence, hundreds of detailed three-dimensional characters and deception and betrayal in every page. Curtis Hanson, however, took the challenge and directed the film adaptation of Ellroy’s novel. The movie is an excellent adaptation to the novel as it still maintains the same conflict and plot line and grasps the action and suspense which the novel invokes in the reader. However, the film does not capture everything which the reader experiences through the novel. Ellroy’s original work possesses many elements that create an atmosphere of darkness, absent from Hanson’s adaptation. This contrast in atmosphere is seen through the difference in the development and presentation of Jack Vincennes, the contrast in character of Ed Exley and the difference in the theme of the two mediums.
In Ellroy’s novel, the development and presentation of Jack Vincennes is much darker and well-developed when comparing to the film adaptation. In the novel, Jack is a celebrity cop who had a severe alcohol and drug addiction in the past. One night, Jack, after overdosing on drugs, attempts to arrest a drug dealer. His state eludes him into believing that the outlines of two people in the distance are friends with the drug dealer and consequently, he kills them. He finds out later on that “the shapes weren’t the nigger’s [drug dealer] backup—they were Mr. and Mrs. Harold J. Scoggins, tourists from Cedar Rapids,...