Ford attempted to establish a sense of historical context by inserting two paragraphs of prose on the screen immediately following the opening credits:
' In the central part of the United States of America lies a limited area called 'the Dust Bowl', because of its lack of rains. Here drought and poverty combined to deprive many farmers from their land.
This is the story of one farmer's family, driven from their fields by natural disasters and economic changes beyond anyone's control and their great journey in search of peace, security, and another home.'
In its description of a '' limited area called 'the Dust Bowl', 'the prose serves to limit the scope of the tragedy about to be witnessed to a specific, isolated part of the nation. The simple past tense used in the final sentence of the first paragraph underscores a feeling that this is all over by the time of the film, 1940. The second paragraph prepares us not for Steinbeck's picture of failure on a national scale but for the story of 'one's farmer's family' who are victims of changes ' beyond anyone's control', and who will set out on a heart-rending journey ' in search of peace, security, and another home.'
One can already notice in this opening lines of the film that the director's attempted to carefully avoid attaching specific blame in this potentially controversial film. The possibility of social change wrought by violent by violent conflict suggested in the novel will not even be hinted at.
The movie only focuses on the Joads, a migrant family from the Dust Bowl region, while the novel's focus shifts from the Joads to the situation of all the migrants who went to Californi...
... middle of paper ...
...hile the peasants will keep trudging down a long, hard road.
The Grapes of Wrath as a novel argues that in order to survive spiritually and physically on the planet man must commit himself to man and environment, whereas the film version focuses on the traditional figure of the isolated individual who will make things 'right'.
Sources Cited and Consulted:
Davis, R. M. (editor). Steinbeck: A Collection of Critical Essays. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1972.
Pratt, John Clark. John Steinbeck: A Critical Essay. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans, 1970.
Steinbeck, John. The Grapes of Wrath . New York: Penguin Books, 1986.
The Grapes of Wrath Directed by John Ford Produced by Daryl F. Zanuck 20th Century Fox, 1940.
Wyatt, David ed. New Essays on The Grapes of Wrath. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990.
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