The Film and Novel Versions of "The Fountainhead" Essay

The Film and Novel Versions of "The Fountainhead" Essay

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The Fountainhead, published in 1943, was Ayn Rand's first great success as a writer. The four part novel, often heralded as one of the greatest American novels, was released on film in theaters in 1949. Rand wrote the screenplay for the film, condensing it where it was necessary and altering the story line to fit a film format. In a way what she chose to edit is an important insight into what ought to be seen as the most crucial pieces to the plot of The Fountainhead. She selected characters, themes, and plot lines to retain while making the difficult choice of selecting the disposable to fit time requirements. Although each of the traditionally regarded main characters, Peter Keating, Ellsworth Toohey, Gail Wynand, and Howard Roark, are given screen time in the film they are given far less focus than they are in the novel. The film raises Dominique Francon's role to new heights, giving her far more screen time than some of the other seemingly more significant characters. Her importance in The Fountainhead is shown through a new light when set beside the film. She is a primary character second only to Roark and perhaps even more interesting because her growth isn't shown in back story, but is given in a constant progression throughout the piece.

Dominique Francon is the heroine of The Fountainhead and proclaimed by Rand as "the woman for a man like Howard Roark." Dominique bridges each of the main characters in a clearly defined line and her encounters with each mark her growth towards being ideal woman for Roark. In the novel she heavily overlaps each individual character's story and walks away from them towards the next necessary lesson. While married to Peter Keating she enlightens him to what he will eventually discover o...


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...roblems because he's aware in doing so he would give up everything that made her view him differently.

In the novel Rand interweaves time, seamlessly moving back and forth across decades to give her readers additional insight. Each part of the four piece novel slides through time to reveal character background and give a more cohesive understanding of their backgrounds and individual motivations. Dominique's story is the exception to this rule. Her story is told almost completely sequentially with the exemption of tidbits of minor information. In this way the film only tells one character's story completely true to form. Dominique's growth is the most significant and much of the novel revolves around her journey to living up to becoming the perfect mate for Howard Roark. Rand uses Dominique to offer a map to the greatness of spirit she believes lies within us all.

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