Book vs Movie: A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

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The first time read A Clockwork Orange was quite a few years ago. I’m not sure where my copy is and don’t remember which version it is. This time around I had a library ebook, the complete original version of the novel. Until reading the introduction, I hadn’t even realized there were different versions. Apparently, the American publisher decided not to include the final chapter when it was first published. This is the version the film was based on. It seems like a minor difference, but it does change the character arc of the protagonist Alex.

Quick summary for anybody that’s not aware. The story follows Alex, a teenager who spends his nights perpetrating violent crimes with his band of “Droogs”. When his friends turn on him and a robbery goes wrong, he ends up in jail for murder. In exchange for a reduced sentence he receives an experimental treatment which eliminates his ability to perform acts of violence. Once released he has to learn how to cope with the effects of the treatment and face the consequences of his earlier crimes. The story is written in first person from Alex’s point of view including fictional teenager slang from a futuristic Britian. This time around reading the book, it felt I bit easier to understand. Most of it is fairly easy to figure out from the context but it is a bit of a challenge to read. It’s not something I was able to speed through. But I appreciated it forcing me to slow down and really be absorbed into the story.

One of the most notable elements of the movie are the visuals. Kubrik went well beyond what is described in the book, as least from what I could decipher. From the sets to the wardrobe, it went a long way in the worldbuilding for the story. The movie feels very long for a novel that is not very long. The novel isn’t even two hundred pages meanwhile the movie is just a little over two hours long. Likely because the story sticks pretty close to the source material. There were only a few minor changes. In particular was the insertion of a very long intake process to jail. None of which is in the book, instead we got a long block of text from Alex about not really being seen as a person in the jail, how they aren’t even called by their names but instead their number. Much of the dehumanizing experience that Alex describes is shown with specific action. I’ve already mentioned the most substantial difference between the original novel and the movie. The novel takes us a little further along in Alex’s story, and we get a chance to see more of a character arc. Meanwhile there’s not much development for his character in the movie. However, I thought it left the end of his story opened ended. Considering how young he is there’s still lots of possibilities for the future. Viewers could make varying assumptions on where Alex may end up.

I feel like I say this too often, but this is a hard choice. I like both for different reasons and each has its issues. While reading I did get frustrated at times with the language. It’s a fun bit of worldbuilding and adds to the experience, made it difficult to read at times. And as much as I love the movie, it felt very long, a bit too long. I can’t even begin to try and recommend one over the other. I’m calling this a tie, and I suggest going with your instincts on which you might prefer.

Book VS Movie: The Shining by Stephen King

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Despite watching the movie The Shining a bunch of times and being a huge Stephen King fan, I never got around to reading the book. When I started this series of posts I decided it was about damn time.

It’s a different experience reading the book after already having seen the movie. I found it really interesting to get more background about the Torence family, our main characters. The novel includes details about their life before moving to Denver, Jack’s alcoholism, how he lost his teaching job, and even memories of his own abusive father. I’ve read that Stephen King didn’t like the adaptation mainly due to the lack of character arc. I can understand his point, Jack’s descent in the novel is much slower and you actually see his struggle for control. You really see a guy that wants to do the right thing for his family. And one thing I did always hate about the movie was Wendy. The character in the book is nothing like the weak and timid woman in the movie. I can’t really say I like the book better, but it was nice to really go in depth into the characters, even some of the minor characters like the cook, Dick Hallorann.

While the novel and the movie share a basic story, they are depicted in very different ways. Few of the iconic scenes from the movie appear in the book. There are not creepy twins,  the elevators do not spew blood, no hedge maze and the ending is completely different. Some of these do take inspiration from the book, for example the caretaker that killed his family had two daughters and the elevators were a major aspect of the haunting. Also the book featured topiary hedges in animal shapes instead of the maze. I assume the limitation of the time kept them from featuring these creatures come to life as they do in the book. For those that pay attention there are also very small details, for example the scrapbook that has a major role in the book does at least make an appearance in the movie.

So now I’ve read the book and really liked it. Still love the movie though. I can’t really say I think either is better. Yes the movie deviates from the book, a lot. But in my opinion many of the changes were due to the change of media. The movie was good because of the visual elements while the book was much more focused on the characters. I’m not sure the movie would have been as good if they tried to stick closer to the novel.