Analyse both the beginning and ending of Steinbeck’s novel with the opening and closing sequences of Sinise’s film version ‘Of Mice and Men’
They are many of difficulties that a director faces when adapting a classic novel to the ‘big screen.’ One of the biggest difficulties Sinise would have faced in adapting ‘Of Mice and Men’ in to a film would have been living up to the standard and expectation of the book. Imagination is a lot different to reality but imagination is extremely hard to capture on the ‘Big Screen’ because there is possibility that what someone imagines is completely different to the film and therefore be disappointed in the film.
There is also a lot of description in the book that paints a picture for the reader and he will have to try and involve some of this in the film.
They story of ‘Of Mice and Men’ is set during the depression that followed the Wall Street Crash of 1929.
It involves the effects of poverty and the difficulty of getting a job. It follows two men, George and Lennie and their struggle to find employment. The novel show a great bond between them and how the two try and overcome Lennie’s disability.
In the beginning of the novel Steinbeck creates a calming mood wereas in the film it starts with action. He also used a lot of effective description that helps the reader get a clear understanding of the setting he uses ‘On one side of the river the golden foothill slopes curve up to the strong and rocky Gabilan mountains, but on the valley side the water is lined with trees- willows fresh and green with every spring, carrying in their lower leaf juncture the debris of the winter’s flooding…’ When describing the two men he gives the reader the impression that one seems to be more powerful than the other ‘…even in the open one stayed behind the other.’ He also describes the first man as having ‘restless eyes’ this tells you he is always looking out for his friend. His friend was the complete opposite ‘…, a huge man, shapeless of face, with large, pale eyes, with wide sloping shoulders; and he walked heavily, dragging his feet a little, the way a bear drags his paws.’ The way he has described the way he walks shows his strength.
The beginning in book and film is most important because the author or film maker needs to attract the attention of the audience, interest them in what is going on and make them want to read or watch more. The way Steinbeck and Sinise have done this is both effective and creative but both different. They both start in different settings. The book describes every thing about the setting and its surroundings and doesn’t introduce any characters till about the fourth page. It also starts as if everything is happening there and then and doesn’t mention anything about a flash back, whereas in the film it starts as a flash back..
In the film George is shown on a train in a fast mid-shot sitting in the corner lonely and isolated in a crouched position, it shows him in thought. It then goes on a CU of George that shows we are going into his thoughts. It cuts to an MS of a woman running in a red dress (representing danger) which is ripped. It zooms in slowly and ends on a CU of woman and shows her emotions and tells the audience she is afraid and terrified. This is not mentioned at all in the beginning of the book. It soon cuts to a LS of two males running. There are rapid changing of shots showing action in the film. MS on males, cuts to a CU of viscous dogs barking and then LS on horses that gives the impression of hunting and also shows time in setting. The audience is involved when the camera is placed in the water that the males (George and Lennie) run through.
The music in the film is slow at the start which creates a mood of sadness to the film and relates to the person’s emotions, it tells you that George is upset. The music starts slow then gradually gets faster and tells you something is happening (chasing) it is also serious.
Not a lot of dialogue is used at the beginning. You hear a woman screaming sounding frightened. You also hear a man shouting “Come on!” “Lennie” This tells us that they need to get away from what is happening and also gives one name of a character.
There is a lot of SFX are used effectively during the beginning, dogs barking, a train, the music ends abruptly and you can hear the woman out of breath. You can also hear men running and splashes of water. The book lacks action and starts more calmly than the film. The book doesn’t tell you why the men are running away and doesn’t mention the woman, train or dogs at all during the beginning.
The introduction to the two characters (George and Lennie) is very different. In the book it starts with a great deal of description. The film shows you they are in some kind of danger whereas in the book it introduces them calm and with a lot of description about setting and location.
The death of Lennie shows alot more emotion in the novel, compared to that of the video. this is because it is slow, and it moves the reader, and makes the reader become emotionally involved. Steinbeck has used some short sentences to create a more dramatic effect of for example: ‘George was silent.’ This shows George’s emotion. Not long after ‘… And he fell silent again.’ This again shows his emotion and that he just can’t cope. Lennie at this point is confused, he has realised that he has done another bad thing but doesn’t understands why George isn’t angry at him. Lennie tries hard to understand and came to his own conclusion that George would live a better life without him and was willing to leave and let George carry on with his life. George lets him know that he doesn’t want him to leave him, even though deep down he agrees that without Lennie he would live an easier life, not having someone to watch all the time.
They then start talking about the dream they both had where they would own a place of their own and every thing was perfect. George ‘shakily’ said ‘Take off your hat Lennie…’ The way he said it shows that he is not showin confidence. George told Lennie to look away, this gave him time to get ready and he used ‘Carlson’s Luger’ too. Which is the same way the dog died, this tells the reader that a death might occur. ‘He looked at the back of Lennie’s head, at the place where the spine ant the skull were joined.’
He is thinking very hard here at which would be the least painful for Lennie, who is still no wiser that soon he will die, by his best friend. He is very child like and the book shows this by him giggling while thinking of the dream. He also has an obsession on rabbits (like the way a child would) and shows a lot of excitement towards the dream because he would finally get to tend the rabbits. George wanted Lennie to die happy and finally built up the courage to do it at his happiest. At first ‘his hand shook violently’ this again shows his emotion. Steinbeck now used another short sentence for effect ‘He pulled the trigger.’ This is used to shock the reader and also show emotion towards Lennie. The novel ends coldly with a cold-hearted remark from Carlson, “Now what the hell ya suppose is eatin’ them two guys?”
In the film the death of Lennie is a lot quicker and shocking. When talking about the dream George shoots him first time Lennie says “and I get to tend the rabbits” Lennie’s child like features are shown again when he is dead because once he is shot he lies curled up like a baby with George standing over him. It shows George’s emotion towards Lennie and the close bond the had. In the film it doesn’t show the audience his struggle to build up the courage to shoot him. It then cuts back to a CU George on the train again, like in the beginning.
This time we again go in to his thoughts as he remembers the good times with Lennie. It then shows George and Lennie side by side, Laughing and smiling. Lennie puts his arm around George like a child wanting affection from his mother. This caption is in slow motion to show the audience how close they were and it also gets the audience emotionally involved again and makes them feel sorry. The music used in this part of the film is sad and slow, again for emotion.
In my conclusion I have found that there can be a lot of differences between the book and the film. In my opinion I didn’t prefer either one because I liked both of them but for different reasons. I liked the book because I liked the idea that Steinbeck emotionally involved the reader with the death of Lennie. It was in my opinion more emotional than the film even though it is upsetting because the music sad and the flash back at the end makes you feel sorry for Lennie and also George.