Comparing Dangerous Liaisons by Choderlos de Laclos and Cruel Intentions the Movie

Comparing Dangerous Liaisons by Choderlos de Laclos and Cruel Intentions the Movie

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Comparing Dangerous Liaisons by Choderlos de Laclos and Cruel Intentions the Movie

It is my intention to compare the book, Dangerous Liaisons by Choderlos de Laclos, to its modern movie version, Cruel Intentions starring Sarah Michelle Gellar. I intend to examine how the original French text was modified in reference to plot, character, morals/values, and themes. I also plan to discuss how these transformations change the meaning of the story and reflect different cultural/historical contexts. There are some major differences between these two works, if only because of when they were written.
First, the plots of both works need to be discussed and explained how they are different. The stories of both works have basically the same structure, until it gets toward the endings. In Dangerous Liaisons, the Vicomte de Valmont dies in a sword battle between him and Danceny. Right before he dies, though, he gives Danceny all of his letters between him and the Marquise de Merteuil and tells him to circulate them in order to ruin Merteuil’s reputation. Danceny does this and then moves away for a while. Merteuil ends up becoming disfigured from small pox and her reputation crumbles. She moves to Holland because of this. Cecile moves back into the convent and Madame de Tourvel dies of misery because of the suffering that Valmont put her through.
Because Cruel Intentions is such a modernized version of this story, the ending is a lot different. Sebastian (Valmont) dies by being hit by a car because he pushed Annette (Tourvel) out of the way in order to save her life. Obviously, this is a much more modern way of dying in a movie than dying in a sword fight. Also, it shows the Valmont character as being more heroic, which in Dangerous Liaisons, he was not quite so heroic. In the movie, it does not really say what happens to Ronald (Danceny). He fights with Sebastian, and that is the last we see of him. Catherine (Merteuil), like in the book, also has her reputation ruined, but she gets humiliated in a more dramatic way (in front of the student body and faculty). Also, there is the issue of drugs. Her addiction to cocaine is revealed. The use of drugs is a common issue in today’s modern movies, and that is one of the reasons Cruel Intentions is different in terms of its cultural context. Cecile and Annette (Tourvel) worked together to produce copies of Sebast...


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...haracters’ clothing is not discussed in the book, so I cannot really apply this theme to it.
Lastly, I would like to discuss the issue of Libertinism. Libertinism was a movement that started in the eighteenth century; about the time Dangerous Liaisons was written. It was a movement of questioning religion and God and of scandalous affairs. The people of this movement no longer thought the world is controlled by God, but by your own actions. The characters of Valmont and Merteuil were prominent Libertines. The book is definitely an example of this movement. It completely represents the values that come from Libertinism.
In conclusion, both of these pieces of work were written in their cultural and historical context. I attempted to compare the two in reference to plot, character, morals/values, and themes and explain them in their cultural and historical context. Dangerous Liaisons was considered to be a condemned piece of literature and Cruel Intentions emphasized this immorality as a modernized version of the story.

Works Cited


Cruel Intentions. Kumble, Roger. Columbia Pictures, 1998.
Laclos, Choderlos de. Dangerous Liaisons. London: Penguin Classics, 1961.

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