Red Badge of Courage Film vs. Print

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Matthew Murphy
Mr. Stapp
1st Period Junior English
21 February 2013
Film
Literature constantly glorifies war as a romantic event, where men won honor through acts of heroism and bravery, certainly a classic description. Instead, this story features not only a battle in full blast but of the tormenting fears and emotions of an untried youth in the ranks, in Stephen Crane's "The Red Badge of Courage," which says all that ever need be said about the terror of a man first entering battle, no matter which side he's on or in what war. Crane tells this story from the viewpoint of one ignorant soldier, a new recruit named Henry Fleming. From beginning till the tail-end of the story, the reader witnesses Henry’s maturation. A classic complaint about movie versions concerns the omission of material that the reader finds important, especially if the material defines a character. If the director must make film that is the proper length for a theatrical release, there is no way to include everything, especially when it comes from a long novel. The film version captured and etched vividly most of the major encounters of the hero that Mr. Crane described—the heart-breaking death of the Tall Soldier, the stunning blow on the head—all but the shocking discovery of the rotting corpse in the woods. This is out of the picture as it is being shown here, probably out of deference for the squeamish. Crane conveyed the reactions of his hero to war in almost stream-of-consciousness descriptions, which is a technique that works best with words but is brought to life by film. When it is a matter of telling precisely how a young soldier feels at a time, for instance, when awaiting an enemy attack or when wandering behind the lines after lamming, it is easier to do so with words than with a camera but is not as entertaining without the facial expressions and body language. Audie Murphy, who plays the Young Soldier, does as well as anyone could expect as a virtual photographer's model...
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