To contrast a film version of a book one must always keep in mind that
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To contrast a film version of a book, one must always keep in mind that a film has to illustrate the
viewer’s mind, while a book allows the reader to use their imagination to color the story anyway they like.
For this very reason, movie versions of novels tend to over exaggerate the main points of the story, and
leave out some of the minute details that can give a story more depth of emotion.
In Kingsley Amis’s Lucky Jim, the movie makes a blatant point of showing Jim Dixon as a
slapstick fool. In the opening scene, which is not in the book, Jim is shown with his array of gadgets that
cast him in a childlike light. Throughout the movie, Dixon is falling on the ground, and creating situations
that seem a little unbelievable. In the book, Jim still falls prey to bad luck and unfortunate circumstances,
but the events are much more believable. One of the most blatant uses of props to add a feeling to the
movie is the use of the dog. No where in the book, does it mention a dog. The only service the dog does to
the movie, is to tie in with the early filmmakers use of humor. The next situation that is not in the book is
when Dixon is put in charge of the decorations for the ceremony, which by the way does not take place in
the book, and the flowers are taken up at the last minute ensuing a riot of mishaps when they walk through.
The lecture on “Merrie England,” plays a large part in the movie version, but has a limited role in
the book version. In the book, the idea of Jim having to use Welch’s papers is not paramount to the topic
of his speech. Both the book and the movie place Jim in a dimmer light than the students he teaches.
Another odd addition to the movie is the ceremony for Gore-Urquart. This is the central happening in the
movie, and is not present in the book. Only the Summer Ball is mentioned with prominence in the novel.
In the novel, Dixon has a much higher opinion of Margaret than in the movie. In the movie it seems that he
running from her, and in the novel, he actually asks her out several times. In the book, Jim and Christines
relationship builds much slower than in the movie. The
book has more interaction between the two, and not so much of a love at first sight theme. Lastly, the
movie omits the meeting with Catchpole, and the final train scene is not a race to the station, but a more
calm interaction between Jim and Christine.
In conclusion, the film version of Lucky Jim, does not do justice to the classic novel by Kingsley
Amis. In the movie, the audience is spoon fed the emotions of the characters, and are not allowed the
unspoken commentary that is present in the book to fill out the characters personalities. Amis does an
incredible job with describing scenes and situations that he almost takes you there. But as it is true with
almost all novels made into movies, the book is always better.
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Lucky Jim, Kingsley Amis, James Dixon, Jakes Thing
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