Once a successful novel hits the market, producers are inclined to adapt the story into a movie. Since imagination, symbolism, and character psyches are explored in a novel, the movies tend to lack the luster of the original text. Using their imagination, readers are able to conjure up characters and scenes that are unique. This is the case with Tim O’Brien’s, “Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong.” This is a story where love and war collide after a soldier brings his sweetheart to his Vietnamese post. On the whole, this chapter in The Things They Carried is far superior to the film, The Soldier’s Sweetheart, because it has thorough descriptions of characters’ feelings, including symbolism concerning objects and important events. When the audience is able to draw it's own story around an author's narrative, the experience is more satisfying than when every detail is presented through the cinematic medium - an active audience is happier than a passive one.
Stark contrasts exist between the description of the characters and emotional content between the book and the movie. This may be mainly due to the limited length of the movie. In the movie, Rat Kiley who is telling the story seems gentler. In the book they make it seem like everything Rat says is exaggerated, but the movie does not stress that fact. “Among the men in Alpha Company, Rat had a reputation for exaggeration and overstatement, a compulsion to rev up the facts, and for most of us it was normal procedure to discount sixty or seventy percent of anything he had to say” (O’Brien 89). Also, the movie emphasizes the fact that Rat Kiley fell in love with Mary Anne Bell. He himself says he loved her towards the end of the movie. A character that people may tend to have sympathy for is Mark Fossie. In the book, one may not feel for Fossie. The movie shows the character having more feeling especially after he couldn’t find Mary Anne. A third character that is portrayed differently in the movie than in the book is Mary Anne, who is the main female character of the chapter. The movie stressed the fact that Mary Anne wanted to learn more about the Vietnamese way of life. There was a scene in the movie where Mary Anne spent time with the Vietnamese soldiers learning their language and how to cook their food. They also show her going ...
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...amboo flutes and drums and chimes,” (O’Brien 109). “On a post at the rear of the hootch was the decayed head of a large black leopard; strips of yellow-brown skin dangled from the overhead rafters,” (O’Brien 110). The images that come across the readers’ minds are gruesome. With the type of description given, one may immediately think that the Greenies were animal-like human beings. After seeing the movie, the description of the hootch in the novel did not match the Greenies’ post in the movie. The movie only showed the hootch as a room with hundreds of candles all around it. There was nothing gruesome as depicted in the chapter. This is one of the many factors as to why the novel was better than the movie.
In conclusion, details involving the characters and symbolic meanings to objects are the factors that make the novel better than the movie. Leaving out aspects of the novel limits the viewer’s appreciation for the story. One may favor the film over the novel or vice versa, but that person will not overlook the intense work that went into the making of both. The film and novel have their similarities and differences, but both effectively communicate their meaning to the public.
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