Having Read Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck the section of the book in which Lennie kills Curley's wife, and having watched the same section of the film, do you think that the director made a good job of translating Steinbeck's words into film?

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Michael Hough 28/04/2007 10:49 AM 10SEQ

Having Read Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck the section of the book in which Lennie kills Curley’s wife, and having watched the same section of the film, do you think that the director made a good job of translating Steinbeck’s words into film?  What did you find particularly effective in the film, and what would you have done differently?

        After having read a small section of the novel ‘Of Mice and Men’ by John Steinbeck and then having viewed the appropriate section of the film the questions above will be discussed and answered in this essay.  It will become clear that the director of the film has portrayed the characters on-screen in an effective and clever way, in that he retains the good positive things about the characters.  The director has portrayed the film in a certain way from the novel and also has adapted some new ideas to make his film more of a success.  I will look at these ideas and sections under camera, sound, lighting, editing and characterisation. Later a section will be written on the differences between the film and the novel; you will come to understand that the information on the choice of characters and the way that they have been translated to the screen, the two main characters we are studying are very differently perceived by the director and these are for reasons, they will be looked at in detail.  The evaluation will be the final section, here there will be some alternative ideas of improvements which could have made the film a better representation of the novel.  I will also look at the effective and ineffective things that happen in the film and look at them in detail.  I will finish the evaluation with a summary of my answers to the title questions.

        In the section of the essay below, the film will be deconstructed to find out what all the individual technical parts do to make the film effective.  The following areas will be considered, camera, sound, lighting, editing and characterisation.  

        Firstly the camera angles and shot types used in this film have been specially chosen by the director, they have been used to great effect in the translation of the novel to the film.  They make the film a much more enjoyable experience.  In the film section George - Lennie’s fellow work partner and best friend - is the first character we meet, the camera focuses on him and pans across the screen following him in a medium shot.  By seeing George first we realise that George is a significant part in the main story of the novel (but not in this particular section).  We enter the great barn to see Lennie in a very unhappy and depressed mood, holding what we learn to be a dead puppy.  The puppy has only just been killed by Lennie in an accident whilst playing.  The camera tracks towards Lennie and his face and upper body appear in a close-up shot.  This shows the emotion he is feeling about the death of the dog and with a close up we realise that Lennie is not in a stable mind.  Later in the scene inside the great barn Curley’s wife is sitting next to Lennie on the remaining wisps of hay and is talking to him.  The camera is an over-shoulder shot – this is where we see what is happening as if we were looking over a character’s shoulder.  The camera deliberately looks down on Curley’s wife and looks up at the big imposing figure of Lennie.  The camera does this to Curley’s wife as she (in the film) is designed to be a very innocent and angelic character.  By looking down on her we realise that she is weak and feeble and the viewer is meant to feel sympathetic towards her and her feelings.  Lenny however is a big, fearsome character.  He is, however, very childish and has several serious learning difficulties, he  does though come across as a big strong man – which he is – and this is meant to worry the audience when we look up to him in this way.  The type camera used in the film when Lenny ‘kills’ Curley’s wife does a very good job of following the characters around the room as they are struggling in vain desperation.  The camera cants just before Curley’s wife’s neck is broken and this shows the struggle very well.  The effect of the cant is to make us realise how terrible this struggle is.  When Lennie is next to her body talking to himself about doing a bad thing he is startled by a white bird (possibly a pigeon) flying straight up towards the roof.  The camera looks straight down on the three entities as the bird flies up and this high angle shot makes the bird look like the soul of Curley’s wife flying off up into heaven like the angel she is portrayed to be.  A final point on the camera is that when the two characters are in the barn alone what we see is a closed frame shot. This shows the closeness of the two characters.  As Lennie rushes out of the barn after killing Curley’s wife he goes straight outside into the dazzling light of day, onto the field in a hugely open frame, long shot.  This contrast shows us that he is free when he leaves the barn.  He then runs of towards the horizon and the camera tracks and follows him.

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        In this section it will become clear that the sound effects in the film add a lot to the viewing pleasure and that they make the film what it is.  Without sound the struggle and the conversations would make no sense to those watching

.  It is important to remember that all the sound used in this section of the film is digetic– this means the characters hear everything that the audience hears and no extra added sound such as music is added.

        The fist character we hear speak directly is Lennie.  Lennie is a very unintelligent person ...

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