After many people read novels, and then watch the film, you hear them leave the theater saying that movie was nothing like the book. That can be true, but a movie has to be judged while keeping in mind that it has both a budget and a time limit, which only allows most movies to focus on the crux of the story. However, where books attempt to give a depiction of their characters and capture their essence, a good director can encapsulate and portray the fundamental nature of the characters clearly for the viewer with visualization.
Books attempt to give descriptions of their characters through long descriptive details, from whether his hair is black, to the kind of things he eats, to how he acts. Although this can be very explanatory for the readers, I feel that a film’s ability to allow its viewer to actually see, and not attempt to visualize the character in one’s head, is a clear benefit. One master of film that I have a great respect for is Alfred Hitchcock, and one of his many great works was Rear Window. One example of how a film can show us characterization very quickly, but still allow us an understanding of every character, is when L.B. Jeffries, in Rear Window, is talking to his girlfriend Lisa Freemont and his insurance caretaker Stella, and goes around the entire courtyard displaying his neighbors for us multiple times to get a better understanding of them throughout the film. We also get more detail about Jeffries in Hitchcock’s movie than we do about him in the novel. Jeffries in the story is insinuated to be a gimp, “Sure, I suppose it was a little bit like prying, could even have been mistaken for the fevered concentration of a Peeping Tom. That wasn’t my fault, that wasn’t the idea. The idea was, my movements were strictly limited just around this time. I could get from the window to the bed, and from the bed to the window, and that was all (Woolrich, 5).” On the other hand Hitchcock displays for us Jeffries sitting in a wheelchair with...
Cited: The Natural. Dir. Barry Levinson. Perf. Robert Redford, Robert Duvall, and Glenn Close. TriStar Pictures, 1984.
Rear Window. Dir. Alfred Hitchcock. Perf. James Stewart and Grace Kelly. Paramount Pictures, 1954.
Apocalypse Now. Dir. Francis Ford Coppola. Perf. Martin Sheen, Marlon Brando, and Robert Duvall. Zoetrope Studios, 1979
A Scandal in Bohemia. Dir. Paul Annett. Perf. Jeremy Brett, David Burke, and Gayle Hunnicutt. Granada Television, 1984.
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