The action comes full circle as George destroys Lennie at the end of the novel. Steinbeck purposely wrote the novel so that it could be turned into a play. Each chapter starts with the description of a scene; the characters come in, speak and then go off as they would in a play. The story is set in 1930’s America. It was written in 1937. America and Particularly California was the land of opportunity. It was believed that any person could make their fortune and achieve success by working hard.
This was called ‘The American Dream’ and is what Lennie, George and later on in the film Candy hoped to achieve. This was the America that Steinbeck knew of and experienced this kind of life, because he was alive at this time. ‘The American Dream’ was destroyed by the depression of the 1930’s. The Wall Street Crash in 1929 when the stock markets collapsed triggered this and thousands of people lost everything they had. Hardly anyone could find work easily and many people were driven to become workers travelling from place to place not getting much money, like George and Lennie.
Other problems of that time were that farming was easier, they used combine harvesters and other machinery, and so fewer men were needed to do the same jobs. Poor farming methods of that time meant that thousands of acres of farmland dried up rapidly, and became dry deserts. The landscape in the new film reflects the reality of the landscape more clearly and the viewers understood what it was like by watching it. There have been three film versions of the novel ‘Of Mice and Men’. Now I will compare the two film versions.
Both versions are very effective and brilliant techniques have been used. The older version was made for television, it is episodic, and the new one is in film version. The new film contains well-known actors. Gary Sinise and John Malkovich, this makes more people want to watch it. In the new film we see no action until the titles have finished, which is more effective. In the opening of the new film the camera crosscuts between long shots and close-ups during the chase to highlight the danger. They focus on George and Lennie a bit more than they do with other characters at the beginning.
I think they do this so the viewers realise who the main characters are and can get to know them. There are close-ups in Aunt Clara’s house. Lennie is given a big piece of pie and George gets a small piece. Lennie is shown as being a big kid. In the 1992 version there close-up shots of the men’s faces on the train, we see their relief of escaping. They are safe. You hear the sound of the train as the white writing comes down over the black screen. This is very effective and makes you want to keep watching. The train scene is not actually used in the text.
The director has added this to make his film more interesting and effective. The lighting in both versions of the novel were quite natural, no use of fake lighting. The director does this to make it more realistic. In the new version of the film the scene changing is very effective. The music in the opening of the old version is varied; it is played on a flute to give a pleasant and optimistic feeling. It becomes intense as the action picks up. This is to reflect the danger and the fear of Lennie and George as they are running.
George doesn’t want to take care of Lennie anymore and he plans to leave him. When he does this the music becomes quieter. It reflects what’s happening in the plot. In the 1992 film version the music is more dramatic. It keeps you in suspense and is more atmospheric. It starts with piano music and then the sound of the train comes in. They do this to make the opening more effective and attention grabbing. The costumes are more or less the same in both versions of the film. They are ragged and dirty. George and Lennie have cravats tied around their necks, and hats.
When George and Lennie go to visit Aunt Clara in the old version of the film, Lennie repeats George when presented to Aunt Clara. “Yes mam”. The director has added this scene into the old version. In the novel the only time she appears is in Lennie’s imagination. This scene has been included to put Lennie into context; it gives him a background, and shows that he has always been looked after and that the people who know him still treat him like a baby. It also serves to highlight Lennie’s reliance on George.
As an audience we feel really sorry for Lennie when George tricked him to try and free himself from responsibility of looking out for Lennie. Lennie is more childish in the new film. You feel more sympathy for him in the old version. In the 1981 version of the film Curley’s wife is portrayed as a bit of a tart, her dressed are tight fitting and she wears lots of makeup. In the scene when she is murdered, she is wearing a tight fitting, black knee length dress with a flower on it. Black represents experience. She has bright red shoes and red earrings.
The description of her in the novel is more or less the same as the way she is presented in the films. In the newer version she is wearing a white dress. This represents innocence. She speaks quietly and is quite flirtatious; she is attentive when Lennie is speaking to her. When Lennie murders her, she screams a lot and is more dramatic in the new film. This draws attention to the viewer and gives a slight chill. The men are outside playing their game, they are so near, yet they don’t hear her screaming or come to help. It makes it more sinister.
When Lennie and Curley’s wife are talking in the old film, Lennie doesn’t listen to her much and interrupts, but in the newer version he sits and looks like he understands and he listens to her carefully. This makes the audience feel sorry for Lennie in a way because he acts like a big baby. He interrupts and talks about his things and doesn’t listen to what Curley’s wife is saying. Also, it gives a slight chill because one minute Lennie is being nice to Curley’s wife and the next, he kills her. Curley’s wife becomes very flirtatious and asks Lennie to stroke her hair. This all leads to the murder.
He enjoys this and she looks like she enjoys it. She is more excited in the newer version, there is heavy breathing and she shows that she likes it a lot. Lennie stares at her a lot and there are lots of close-ups of this. In the older version when Lennie kills her, you see the close-up of his hand over her mouth. The camera switches from a low angle shot of her feet to a close up of her face where we see the fear in her eyes and then the camera goes back to her feet where one of her shoes fall off. This is very effective because we see just enough of her eyes to see how scared she is.
Then there is the very sad and final indignity where she loses her shoe in death and she has been so proud of her appearance. Then the episode ends to create suspense. The newer version is much closer to the novel. There are only long and mid-shots of Lennie holding her enough to break her neck. There is quiet music up until Lennie starts becoming fierce. The music is more dramatic and brings an atmosphere. The volume increases to show that it’s important. It keeps the audience hooked. In the older version there is slow haunting music when she dies. This makes it creepy for the viewer.