I am going to compare ‘of mice and men’ chapter 1 of the novel with the opening section of the film adaptation and see what the differences there are between the two.
I will look at how the settings of the film relate to the description of the book’s version, compare events that are set and how the different characters of George and Lennie are established in the two media. I will compare the ways in which we find out what previously happened and what they plan to happen.
I will show how events are different between the film and the book and write about how the special effects were described in the book and how they were created in the film and see how the film’s camera shots and the movement of the camera made the film more effective
George and Lennie are two migrant American labourers. Lennie is huge and very strong but has the intellect of a child. George is a small but clever man.
Both men arrive in a clearing beside the Salinas River one evening. They had meant to arrive at a ranch where they were to work by this time, but their bus driver had tricked them into getting off the bus too early, and they had to walk a long way.
While they sit in the clearing, George instructs Lennie not to say a word when the Boss talks to them the following day, because he fears they won't be hired if Lennie is suspected of being stupid. Lennie promises not to say anything.
While the two men talk, we learn a little about their past. They had to flee the town of Weed after Lennie had got into some trouble there.
The two men set up camp in the clearing. They heat up some beans to eat, and then they continue their conversation. During this conversation, it is revealed that in Weed, Lennie had tried to feel a girl's dress, and she had cried out that he was raping her. George and Lennie had to hide in an irrigation ditch to escape the wrath of the townspeople. Also, Lennie and George talk about their great dream that some day they will buy a farm and settle down together.
In the first chapter of the book, it is set outdoors and it talks a lot about nature and the surroundings. The first page mostly talked about where they were and where they were going from Weed on the way to Soledad for a new future.
The scene is set in the evening near the woods, as ‘there is a path through the willows and among the sycamores, a path beaten hard by boys coming down the path.’
The author describes the scene in the sunset evening of a hot day.
The first few paragraphs in the book describe a lot of the surroundings and how description of the nature relates to the story, as the rabbits that Lennie enjoys petting are involved later.
The clothes that they wear are seen as sort of working clothes as they wear denim jeans and denim jackets with big brass buttons, Lennie and George both wear black shapeless hats and both carry a lot of their belongings on their ragged backpack.
The first man, George, was described by the author as small and quick, slender arms and a thin and bony nose and was quite independent in making decisions. George cared a lot for Lennie, George is the clever one out of the two who makes decisions for Lennie as well and takes care of Lennie like he’s his own son.
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On the other hand Lennie is the total opposite of George as it seems he has the mental age of a 7 year old. The author describes him as a huge man, shapeless of face, with large pale eyes with wide sloping shoulders; and he walked heavily dragging his paws, his arms swung from side to side and moved like a pendulum.
The story mainly starts as they are walking down a long stretch of road as they are moving to a destination and on the way they went to a lake, where Lennie takes long gulp of water and George as the smart one tells him not to drink so much. Lennie was playing with the water like a little kid, as the author says, Lennie dabbled his big paws in the water and wiggled his fingers so the water arose in little splashes.
Lennie usually imitated George exactly, the author quotes ‘looked over to George to see weather he had it just right. He pulled his hat down a little more over his eyes, the way George’s hat was’. George later tries to tell Lennie about the work cards they got at Murray’s and ready’s. George was getting upset with Lennie and he says that it’s his last chance.
Lennie then started grinning with relief, because he had thought he had lost the tickets. Lennie then put his hands in his pockets and distinctively had his hand clenched. Within was the dead mouse. George says to him; ‘what you got in your hand’ George started getting angry with Lennie, Lennie responded like a little kid and started to get scared and he finally spitted it out, it is a mouse. George took the mouse and threw it across the pool to the other side, among the brush. Lennie’s face was all startled; Lennie buried his head between his knees and started weeping. George then thought it was a good time to caution Lennie about later when they were going to the new ranch to work and tells him specific instructions on what to do when someone talks to him’, with the boss. ‘Just don’t talk’.
As they walked on they soon set up camp in the clearing as it was getting dark, they heated up some beans to eat, and they continued their conversation, during the conversation it is revealed that in Weed, Lennie had tried to feel a girl’s dress, and she cried out thinking he was going to rape her. George and Lennie got ran out by some of the towns people and as a get away they had to hide in an irrigation ditch next to a stream to escape the wrath of the towns people. Also, Lennie and George talked about there great dream of them buying there own ranch one day with some money and Lennie and George living there growing their own food and breeding animals such as rabbits.
Comparing events of the films first section until Lennie and George camp out for the night, with the first chapter of the novel, ‘of mice and men’.
In the novel the story starts off as they are walking up a long stream of road on their way to Soledad and as they approach the green pool, there is some similarities to the film at the part, but it occurred a lot later into the film.
In the film they started of as we saw George in a train. It was all quite dark and you barely see George for a while as the camera is panning to the left, then you see such things that seem like a flashback. When a girl is screaming and running through a field and Lennie and George running.
Then a picture of George is seen as before when he’s in the train and then the stories film starts.
In the film we see Lennie and George running, they were running because there were about 10 people after them on horseback and with dogs. Lennie and George are stumbling their way and you see the girl running the other direction. Lennie and George ran through some fields and around a steep corner when men on horseback are out of their sight, Lennie and George jump into a stream and hide on one side under the leaves. The men after them stood by the lake near them, but they couldn’t find Lennie and George anywhere so they gave up their effort and went back.
In the novel that action never occurs, it is instead blended in when Lennie and George are talking as they walk up a long stretch of road, George reminds him of the scene in Weed.
In the film know while they wait for the men that ran them out of town, until they have left it is know seen it is quite dark and a train is going past. Lennie and George jump on into the bunk, while they sit; Lennie starts asking questions to George about where they are going.
In the novel that scene never happens as George never told Lennie while he was under the camp about what happened after they got ran out of weed.
In the film we see the train disappearing and Lennie and George are in a new town, then a scene shown shows where it appears Lennie and George have just come out of a job centre. we see Lennie and George sat on a mini bus, going through the countryside on a hot day on their way to work to Soledad. The bus driver took them of the bus saying this was the last stop in ranch and Soledad was jus a little stretch down the highway. In the novel this scene was expressed while Lennie and George was sat by the pool and George angrily swearing and saying what the bus had said after he lied that Soledad was only down a little stretch of road, and that Lennie and George had been walking for ages until they reached the pool and they have still a long way to go the they see the bus going past and George very angry shouted and swore as the bus went on the way they was heading.
There are many different types of film techniques used in the film using the cameras, such as setting different moods and how sound and camera actions are used.
At the beginning of the film I saw how George was sat in the train a train, the light reflecting on half of his face suggested to me it was quite dark, the panning off the camera across the screen said to me a revealing of what happened and the subtle dinging music in the background made the environment calm and set a thoughtful mood.
When the flashbacks appear of the girl running as it is getting released in short segments and reversing back to the scene of George, it seemed the tempo was going up and the volume of that scene, as the music is getting faster. Then a sudden shutter of sound and the light zapped as if in George head the story started from there.
The director used a lot of different camera shots; for example at the beginning when we see the girl running we first see her running towards the camera and then in the other direction, Lennie and George running away from the camera, then another shot of the girl running away from the camera and Lennie and George towards the camera.
The people on horseback created a different soundtrack. As the volume went up a notch. These camera shots built up more suspension for a chase.
Through the film you usually see the camera see the camera in Lennie’s point of view, and we see how he is thinking, as the soundtrack changes when it is in Lennie’s point of view, for example when Lennie and George were sat on the bus on their way to Soledad and the bus driver got up and told them to get of the bus, that scene was seen from Lennie’s point of view.
The camera took close up shots when Lennie and George are talking, for example when they were camping.
There are a few panorama shots, when they are walking down the long stretch of road.
When the director wanted to build up tension, each length of each scene was shorter length. When the surrounding was calm and subtle the length of the camera shot the length of the camera shot was longer.
That suggests to me that for a higher tempo and excitement a length of the camera shot has to be shorter, and longer for a calm effect.
In the novel of mice and men the opening paragraphs are setting the scene, and is written in the 3rd person, present tense is used in the first section. The films dialogue is similar as spoken in the novel, when Lennie and George are talking, but the description of a place doesn’t regularly be the same as the film, and usually in the novel there is more talking in a separate scene. In the film it is a lot different, probably because the film would be really boring if the scene dragged on. Also in the novel, what happened before the present as the novels story starts is mostly uncovered as we read on the pages. In the film things aren’t really revealed of the past but is shown in the present.
The order of the dialogue spoken is different although, because in the novel how the scenes occur is not the same as how and in which order the film is shown at. The novel includes a lot of things written about nature and the surroundings rather than the sense of hearing.
The film focuses a lot on Lennies point of view and some scenes are shown with his perspective, instead 3rd person narrator speaks the novel.
The novel’s dialogue, when George is talking to Lennie, is a lot more abusive and harsh when talking to Lennie than the film. The dialogue of when Lennie is talking about his mouse and George gets angry with him in the film, they talk of the mouse is not as much focused as the novel, because the mentioning of the mouse keeps on coming up.
Things in the book are said with more violence and anger than in the book, and it seems the novel is aimed at a higher age group than the film, ‘of mice and men’.
Things that were successful in the film, was the flashback of George at the beginning, this sort of put as in the picture of which George and Lennie are established as characters earlier.
The novel’s idea of establishing the character later was not that successful as the books beginning were sort of boring.
Instead the book revealed much later of Lennie and George’s past in weed.
I think the scene in the film when Lennie and George are being run out of Weed, with people running on horseback and with dogs running after them was successful because the soundtrack added to effect here too also we saw which kind of people Lennie and George were, they worked at a ranch, and we also saw how clumsy Lennie seemed as he was staggering when he was running away.
I think near the end of the chapter, when Lennie and George are sat down by the fire, and as Lennie is asking about the dream they was planning, where they would have their own ranch and as they are talking until they got to sleep, was a successful in the novel because there was a lot of text describing more information than the film had said.
I think when they got dropped off the bus in Soledad and as they walked up in the long stretch off highway and as George was explaining to Lennie what to do when they get to the ranch, and as they were having arguments about the mice. That scene I think was successful in the film because it had a long scene, as a lot of things were said. In the novel that part of the scene was a described in the past tense, because they were talking about when Lennie and George were sat near the pool, when they were having a drink and resting.
I think the film’s storyline was more successful than the novel, though the first chapter, even though I’ve only read a few chapters of the novel and have seen the whole of the film and have studied it more.
Briefly the first chapter, or first chapter of scene of the film was really all the same, except they were displayed in different orders of time and the style and the description was different.
The film had an edge over the novel because it displayed thing better even though I much prefer to watch a film than reading a novel, which probably has influenced my judgement a bit that the film of mice and men is better and more interesting, but perhaps that’s because the film-makers had modern techniques to tell what was a very well written story.
FAISAL MOHAMMED 10-5 10/05/07