Book vs Movie: The Dark Half by Stephen King

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Been a while since I did one of these. Haven’t been too good at planning things out and sticking to a regular publishing schedule. Hopefully, in this new year that will change. This post only came about because I was gifted the matching set, book and DVD, of The Dark Half. Probably because this is an older one, I hadn’t read it yet, still working my way through Kings back catalog.

I have to say even for Stephen King, this story is pretty fucken bonkers. Writer Thad Beaumont kills off his crime novel writing pen name George Stark before it can be exposed by a creep looking for a payday. However, George was always more than just a name and becomes his own complete living and breathing person just in time to fight for his right to exist. He digs himself out of his imaginary grave to go on a killing spree, targeting anyone involved in his demise, naturally saving Thad for last. I enjoyed the book, it’s pretty dark and damn suspenseful. And very obviously inspired by King’s own life, at least partly. However, it leaves so many unanswered questions. There’s an implied connection to Thad’s absorbed twin and references to folklore involving sparrows as a link between the land of the dead and living. But there’s never really an explanation for George’s physical manifestation. As much as I enjoyed the story I was left wanting more. But I guess ending with the mystery is better than a half-hearted attempt that tanks the whole story.

With George Romero directing, Timothy Hutton as Thad, and Michael Rooker as Sheriff Pangborn, I was expecting a lot from the movie before it even started. It pretty much lived up to expectations. About the first third of the movie sticks pretty close to the story from the novel, switching around a couple scenes and condensing things down a bit. Then it veers off and goes in a slightly different direction. We get a slight attempt at applying some logic to George’s appearance, but it didn’t add much to the story. One major difference was the intense focus on Thad and George, most of the other characters fade into the background. Hutton was great as both. I like that Thad is portrayed a bit darker the movie, it’s a bit of foreshadowing early on to the reveal of George Stark. I wish Rooker had more screentime but, but Sheriff Pangborn’s role in the movie was dramatically reduced. I’d say it was a good movie, but the story still feels very hard to believe.

This is a hard one. I enjoyed both but it really felt like there was something missing in both. There are too many holes in the story, it takes a lot of suspended disbelief to buy into it. Since I have to pick one, I’d go with the book. The characters actions and leaps of logic in the movie are a little too far-fetched. The way things unfold in the novel comes across a tad bit more realistic, at least enough to make it more enjoyable.

Book vs Movie: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

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I have to admit I wasn’t too thrilled with either the book or movie adaptation of Fahrenheit 451. Mostly I’ve heard of it referenced in relation to other similar dystopian future novels featuring an authoritative government and a controlled passive citizenry. I never really saw the appeal, although I did recently read 1984 and liked it. In Fahrenheit 451, the story is centered on Montag, who’s job as a fireman is to burn books. Inevitably, conflicted about his work, he steals and hides books from the homes he’s sent to. I liked the story, it was okay and the ending was really good. But as Montag begins to read through the books he’s hidden, much of the text ends up being quotes from classic works of literature. Not only does it pull away from the story it started to feel like a chore to read.

On this rare occasion I actually preferred the movie to the book. Except for the one major issue. The movie really emphasizes the lack of text and reading in this world and maybe takes it a little too far. Their newspapers are depicted as pages of pictures only and even work personnel files are simply pictures of the worker at different angles. So how in this world where there’s no way to encounter words does Montag, of all people a fireman, even know how to read. The book doesn’t portray the world as completely lacking the written word, just no books. That makes it much more believable than the movie where there is literally not one written word in this society.

Ignoring that it was a good movie. I enjoyed watching it more than I enjoyed reading the book. Best scene had to be the guys flying around on jetpacks. The movie was made in 1966, so their idea of what the future would look like and the effects to create it are pretty damn funny. They made some minor changes to the story, and the ending was slightly different but it was a pretty good adaptation of the book.