Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Having Read Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck the section of the book in which Lennie kills Curley’s wife Essay

Having Read Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck the section of the book in which Lennie kills Curley’s wife, and having watched the same section of the film, do you think that the director made a good job of translating Steinbeck’s words into film? What did you find particularly effective in the film, and what would you have done differently? After having read a small section of the novel ‘Of Mice and Men’ by John Steinbeck and then having viewed the appropriate section of the film the questions above will be discussed and answered in this essay. It will become clear that the director of the film has portrayed the characters on-screen in an effective and clever way, in that he retains the good positive things about the characters. The director has portrayed the film in a certain way from the novel and also has adapted some new ideas to make his film more of a success. I will look at these ideas and sections under camera, sound, lighting, editing and characterisation. Later a section will be written on the differences between the film and the novel; you will come to understand that the information on the choice of characters and the way that they have been translated to the screen, the two main characters we are studying are very differently perceived by the director and these are for reasons, they will be looked at in detail. The evaluation will be the final section, here there will be some alternative ideas of improvements which could have made the film a better representation of the novel. I will also look at the effective and ineffective things that happen in the film and look at them in detail. I will finish the evaluation with a summary of my answers to the title questions. In the section of the essay below, the film will be deconstructed to find out what all the individual technical parts do to make the film effective. The following areas will be considered, camera, sound, lighting, editing and characterisation. Firstly the camera angles and shot types used in this film have been specially chosen by the director, they have been used to great effect in the translation of the novel to the film. They make the film a much more enjoyable experience. In the film section George – Lennie’s fellow work partner and best friend – is the first character we meet, the camera focuses on him and pans across the screen following him in a medium shot. By seeing George first we realise that George is a significant part in the main story of the novel (but not in this particular section). We enter the great barn to see Lennie in a very unhappy and depressed mood, holding what we learn to be a dead puppy. The puppy has only just been killed by Lennie in an accident whilst playing. The camera tracks towards Lennie and his face and upper body appear in a close-up shot. This shows the emotion he is feeling about the death of the dog and with a close up we realise that Lennie is not in a stable m ind. Later in the scene inside the great barn Curley’s wife is sitting next to Lennie on the remaining wisps of hay and is talking to him. The camera is an over-shoulder shot – this is where we see what is happening as if we were looking over a character’s shoulder. The camera deliberately looks down on Curley’s wife and looks up at the big imposing figure of Lennie. The camera does this to Curley’s wife as she (in the film) is designed to be a very innocent and angelic character. By looking down on her we realise that she is weak and feeble and the viewer is meant to feel sympathetic towards her and her feelings. Lenny however is a big, fearsome character. He is, however, very childish and has several serious learning difficulties, he does though come across as a big strong man – which he is – and this is meant to worry the audience when we look up to him in this way. The type camera used in the film when Lenny ‘kills’ Curley’s wife does a very good job of following the characters around the room as they are struggling in vain desperation. The camera cants j ust before Curley’s wife’s neck is broken and this shows the struggle very well. The effect of the cant is to make us realise how terrible this struggle is. When Lennie is next to her body talking to himself about doing a bad thing he is startled by a white bird (possibly a pigeon) flying straight up towards the roof. The camera looks straight down on the three entities as the bird flies up and this high angle shot makes the bird look like the soul of Curley’s wife flying off up into heaven like the angel she is portrayed to be. A final point on the camera is that when the two characters are in the barn alone what we see is a closed frame shot. This shows the closeness of the two characters. As Lennie rushes out of the barn after killing Curley’s wife he goes straight outside into the dazzling light of day, onto the field in a hugely open frame, long shot. This contrast shows us that he is free when he leaves the barn. He then runs of towards the horizon and the camera tracks and follows him. In this section it will become clear that the sound effects in the film add a lot to the viewing pleasure and that they make the film what it is. Without sound the struggle and the conversations would make no sense to those watching . It is important to remember that all the sound used in this section of the film is digetic- this means the characters hear everything that the audience hears and no extra added sound such as music is added. The fist character we hear speak directly is Lennie. Lennie is a very unintelligent person and the audience has been made to understand this through the repetition of words such as, â€Å"tend no rabbits†. This is also grammatically incorrect which show his obvious lack of intelligence. The noises Lennie makes are very childish and the assumption is that the audience will sympathise with Lennie, even though he has just killed a puppy. The digetic sound we hear is an excellent guide to the emotions that the director wants us to hear. A very important point about the sound effects are that there is no non-digetic sound at all from either inside or outside of the barn. The director has made sure that in this section of his film we hear only what the characters can hear. This makes the atmosphere tense and exciting and really involves the viewer. It is also important to remember that throughout the whole clip there is no specifically recognisable dialogue from outside of the barn. This is important because as we see a lot of the action outside and hear the cheers and clanging of metal we never hear voices. This shows that the main focus to the scene is inside the great barn and not outside on the field. Having no soundtrack to the clip makes the scenes feel more realistic but it also helps to build up the tension to create a particular mood. A further interesting point which has been specially chosen by the director is that when the puppy’s neck and Curley’s wife’s neck are broken we hear exactly the same sound. This doesn’t add much to the film but we feel upset that Curley’s wife has died after the puppy has so tragically died as well. The lighting used in the film creates a particular effect – rather like the sound does – it helps us understand the setting, characters and the mood that the film is meant to have. The most obvious point to make about the lighting effects in the film is that when Lennie is inside the great barn we see what is meant to be natural light coming through the cracks in the wooden walls. Unfortunately the light doesn’t look natural but by coming through the individual cracks it helps to create a brilliant design of a prison cell, in which Lennie is trapped and can’t escape. When Curley’s wife enters the barn she is backlit. This makes her white dress look almost unnaturally perfect. By being backlit the viewer understands the innocence of this character. During the struggle there is not much light other than the prison bar effect but as soon as Curley’s wife dies the barn is filled with bright light – this is visible when the bird flies off up to the roof. When Lennie leaves the barn after killing Curley’s wife it becomes very dark until he opens the door and the bright light shines on him as he leaves. This painfully bright light makes us realise how dark it was inside the barn. This is a very effective technique that the director has used very well in the film. The editing in a film is a very important factor. With a good edit to a scene it looks almost lifelike – as if you were there. By showing certain characters in a certain way and by introducing them to us in a friendly or unfriendly way we get to know the character better. George is the first character to be shown in this scene. We know that he is important as he looks very relaxed but also because the camera pans following him ignoring the other characters. By following George and watching him we are sub-consciously drawn to like him. As he is smiling when we are first introduced to him a nice pleasant image of George is pictured in our minds. The first time the camera focuses on Lennie it moves to a close up, this makes up sympathise with him. He has killed the dog and is very upset about this. The emotions of Lennie make the shot very upsetting but peaceful. The audience is deliberately drawn in to feel sorry for Lennie and not anger at his killing of the puppy. This has been used by the director, almost what the author of the novel would have wanted. During the conversation between Lennie and Curley’s wife the camera shots start of as mid-shots but eventually work up towards being close-ups. Whilst the close-up shots are taking place the length of each shot decreases; this shows the mounting tension caused by the two characters. Having quicker shots forces the audience to think something bad is going to happen even without a soundtrack playing. After Lennie kills Curley’s wife he heads out of the barn and out into the countryside. As Lennie is considered to be a loner he has been deliberately separated from the rest of the group of men by a fence at the edge of the horseshoe field. This deliberate separation is effective in creating the image of a desperate man in our minds. The final section of analysis is on the characterisation in the film. Gary Sinese who directed the film (and also played the part of George) has carefully chosen the people who would suit each of the roles properly. He has decided what costumes the actors will wear and also what the characters will look and sound like. Lennie is wearing several layers of clothing, which are dark, dull, depressing colours. The blue jacket Lennie wears is an example of this darkness. Lennie also has very dirty teeth and is bald. The director may have chosen Lennie to look like this for a reason. Do people perceive people with learning difficulties as dirty and bald? If this is the reason why Sinese has chosen the characters to look this way he has done a good job in translating the novel to the film. Lennie is also very repetitive in his choice of language which makes him sound very uninteresting and unintelligent. He is very basic in his use of words which can prove this. Sherilyn Fenn, who plays the part of Curley’s wife does a very good job of portraying the character. She wears a white dress and even has white shoes on. This is a big indication that she is meant to be an angelic, sweet character. We sympathise with her for this reason. She is a very fragile person and she often fiddles with her clothes as though she is uncomfortable. There is an intentional contrast between her and Lennie. She is very different in the film, from the book. There are many differences between John Steinbeck’s novel and Gary Sinese’s film. Although they share the same title; have the same characters; the same setting; the same storyline and share many points of accuracies the differences can easily be spotted. The most important difference is a very deliberate one – the depiction of Curley’s wife in the novel is one of a very greedy, selfish, self conscious person who acts more like a spoilt child; in the film however Curley’s wife is a very angelic, innocent, pure woman who looks as though she is frail and this would make the audience sympathise with her. The reason, I believe why Sinese opted for this style of Curley’s wife is that the whole reason the film was being made was to make money. If the main female character in the film was shown to be very negative then very few females would want to see the film, this would make the film earn less at the Box Office. For a similar reason to the one stated above the section where Curley’s wife confides in Lennie about her dislike of Curley and her hopes for what she could have gained, had she been in the pictures. By being such a self centred character it shows a very negative image. The portrail of the characters in the book shows that Sinese thought very carefully about the actors he wanted to use. The people he used are almost what you could have pictured in the book – apart from the obvious differences with Curley’s wife. The director has made good choices, especially with Lennie as John Malkovich plays the dyslexic killer very well. The facial expressions that he uses match those perfectly of what you would (unfortunately) associate with the less mentally abled. Having deconstructed the film in the pages above I will now try to consider the answers to the questions in the title. I will consider the mood the film creates, the way it shows the characters and the general differences between the novel and film section. I think that the film version of Of Mice and Men is a very cleverly worked out representation of the film. The film may not be entirely accurate but it is a very well worked piece of creative filming. The character of Lennie has been very well translated and shows a very good understanding of the principles of his character. Gary Sinese and John Malkovich have worked well to create the mentally disabled character and to make him look real. When the viewers watch this piece they could feel that they are in the film with Lennie as the portrayal of him is so accurate. I think that in the film, having the constant changing of scene between the inside of the barn and the outside field makes the viewer see what the world outside of Lennie is really like. In the novel we only ever ‘see’ Lennie inside of the barn and get some description of the outside. By letting us see the outside it makes us feel that we understand the film more and understand the segregation of Lennie from the group of men. This idea to let us see what the ‘real’ world is really like is a very good addition and it works very effectively. The section of the film where Lennie kills Curley’s wife is too short – it makes it look like breaking someone neck is easy. In fact the film shows Curley’s wife screaming just seconds before her neck is broken, it would take longer than this, especially with the way Lennie is holding her. It could have taken up to half a minute. For this reason I don’t think that this part of the novel has been well changed into a film. If the struggle had gone on for longer it would have been more realistic which although this is based on a novel it still is real life. This section has not worked as well as it could – and most probably should – have and therefore I feel that it is not as effective as the other scenes! The changes that have been made from the text to the film were on the whole necessary to make the film any kind of success. The complete make over of the character of Curley’s wife is a very important clue that Sinese wanted to make the film suitable to both sexes. Some changes like the absence of Lennie throwing the dead body of the puppy across the room were, in my opinion for the worse. The throwing of the dead dog’s body across the room showed us Lennie’s viscous power which he did have. By leaving it out it is more of a surprise when we find he kills Curley’s wife on the screen than it would have been if we had visually seen his anger previously. If I was to direct a remake of this film there would be several things I would change. Firstly I would make Curley’s wife appear as accurately as I could and make her a perfect representation of the character in the book. If this stopped some female viewers from watching I wouldn’t be too disappointed as the film would not really make much money at the Box Office anyway. By making Curley’s wife a real portrayal of the book it would have made the story more interesting and would have made the relationship between her and Lennie clearer. I think that this would have been a good addition. Also if I was to change another thing it would be the costume that Lennie wears. If we are meant to sympathise with Lennie it seems a lot harder to do with someone wearing dark, dirty clothes. I have agreed that this shows his character but in essence the director is trying to put across to different types on Lennie and he fails! Finally I will answer the title questions! There were three main questions to discuss and answer and my summary is below. I think Gary Sinese did an average job of translation Steinbecks novel into the film. He left out whole sections and completely changed some of the characters but still managed to capture the atmosphere of the novel and in particular managed to understand the character Lennie very well. I found the switching of the view of inside and outside of the barn very effective as well as other things such as the bird – acting as Curley’s wife’s soul – flying off up into the roof. I would have changed the character of Curley’s wife and the look of Lennie’s clothes as his appearance is very shabby.

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