Isn’t the Book Always Better Than the Movie?


It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words, but in truth no such analogy can be accurately applied. Perhaps it is true of words describing a painting or sculpture, but when it comes to stories such a suggestion is nothing less than ridiculous. In fact, the situation tends to be quite the opposite. It is hard to capture the magic of words with a camera. No film dialogue can ever be as eloquent as that related by a good author. The style, humor, and insight of the writer serve as a guide in the story helping to form the correct impression on the reader. In no way is this more apparent than in the presentation of character, such as in AThe Blue [email protected] Upon examination one can clearly see that Crane=s text does a far better job presenting and developing character than the film.


One of the main reasons character is presented better in the story is that it is related to the reader by an all-knowing and reliable narrator. This omniscient view allows the reader to see how the characters really feel, thus giving a more profound understanding of them. Furthermore, by the narrator=s choice of words one is told how the narrator perceive



events, and is consequently told how to perceive events themselves. This is shown in the text in part four when Scully and the Swede return from having a drink upstairs. The reader knows that the Swede has become offensive because the narrator conveys that he speaks in a Abullying [email protected] about Johnnie (775). In contrast, the same moment in the film must be marked by the Swede patting Johnnie on the head in a seemingly condescending manner. The lack of narration forces us to rely on the characters words and actions, thus leaving room for the errors of interpretation. Clearly, the element of character is better presented with the assistance of a narrator.


Another field in which the text triumphs over the film version is in character development. In the story, no characters are all good or all bad, they are instead dynamic. They all display favorable and unfavorable behavior as well as positive and negative reactions to various stimuli regardless of what the expected reaction is. Most of all, however, they are individual; each with their own personality and identity. This is illustrated several times, one of the most prominent being in part five of the text, when after dinner, the Swede gives a playful shove to the shoulder of Scully that he doesn=t know is injured and says it was Aa good square [email protected] (776). The book presents this as a misguided, but well



intended, gesture of an out-of-place, confused, and drunken foreigner. The film, on the other hand presents this scene quite differently. The Swede is extremely rude throughout the meal, his crudeness culminating in the scene just after dinner as he tells Scully the meal wasn=t bad for a Aflea bag [email protected] Through the entire movie the Swede is presented in this unfavorable and unsympathetic light. Not just the Swede, but all the characters are presented not as thinking individuals, but personified abstractions. They each fit their stereotype, and remain static for the duration. The film simply does not embrace the fact that in order to have character development, there must be character.


Another mechanism that propels the story=s character presentation ahead of that of the film is the book=s ability to ignore time. Crane can spend a paragraph explaining the intricacies of a minute or pass over several months in a single sentence as the situation requires. This not only allows the reader time to observe all the important details about each character, but also builds suspense and draws the reader in giving a better experience of the story from every angle. A prime example of this is half way through part five of the text when the Swede accuses Johnnie of cheating. The following silence, suddenly broken by struggling and obscenities, is elaborated on extensively over two paragraphs where the



reader gets a solid sense of their motivation and quintessence. The reader gets a real picture of them, nearly seeing Athe eyes of the two warriors...hot