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Air, food, water, shelter, and fire are important elements of life for human bings. Without those elements humans could not possibly survive. Those are the obvious ones, but have you ever thought of something else that you couldn?t live without? When you answered that question did television, or books come to mind? If they didn?t then think again. Entertainment is a very important part of our existence, especially in our culture. Without entertainment, whether it be individual or with a group, humans could not stay sane, hence could not survive. There are many types of entertainment. Humans, since Adam and Eve have been entertaining themselves in all sorts of different ways. As simple as playing with sticks and stones, and as complex as flying F-16 fighting jets; we need entertainment. Two of the most popular forms of entertainment today is watching televison, and reading books.
Reading and writing is one of the oldest forms of communications. Throughout the ages stories have been past down from generation to generation through word of mouth, and through the advent of paper; books. One hundred years ago there was no radio, no cars, and no television. They entertained themselves in different ways then we do today. When they finished their work, instead of plopping themselves on the couch with the remote control, they either sat down with their family and talked, or they read. They read poems, mystery novels, science-fiction novels, romance novels, and so on. People one hundred years ago read much more than we do today, so does that make them smarter than we are today?
When I sit down somewhere to read a book, I have to get prepared. I have to be in a quiet atmosphere, I have to be in the mood to read, and I must be prepared to sit down and read for a time period of at least an hour. If I?m not able to do any one of those things when I start to read, then I will lose my concentration, and I will stop reading. I find it much easier just to turn on the television, find a channel that I like, and watch what?s on. It doesn?t take as much mental concentration that it does to read a novel then it does to watch a movie. Does that possibly mean that you learn more when you read?
I have two examples to try and find out if that question is true or not. The two examples are the relations between the book and the movie of ?Snow Falling on Cedars?, and the other is ?The Perfect Storm?. I believe those are both good examples to compare between the other because they are both about death and drowning, and both are set in tiny fishing villages. First I will talk about ?Snow Falling on Cedars.?
The novel ?Snow Falling on Cedars? by David Guterson is a story about love, death, treachery, deceit, romance, and many more adjectives that I can?t think of right now. It takes place in a tiny fishing village on an island off of the Washington coast. The novel is four hundred and sixty pages long, and it has a fairly complicated plot. The plot often moves back and forth from present tense to past tense. It takes place during WWII so that is a major factor in the time line of the plot. WWII is most definite when we move the Japanese Americans out of their homes and into concentration camps. A white local boy named Ishmael and a Japanese girl named Hatsue fall in love without letting either of their family?s know about their relationship. But when the Americans take Hatsue and her family from home Ishmael can?t stand being away from his love, and he writes a letter to Hatsue and her mother finds it. When Hatsue?s mother finds out she bands Hatsue from seeing Ishmael, and Hatsue begins to realize that it their relationship would never work out. Even though their relationship ends, they still always think about each other, especially Ishmael who will always love Hatsue.
Ishmael and Hatsue?s relationship is explained in a good portion of the book. And whenever their relationship is explained it is being presented in the past tense. So a large portion of the novel is written in past tense. The other parts of the novel is in the present tense which is taking place mostly in a court room where there is a case taking place about a potential homicide of a fishermen out at sea. The deceased fisherman is Carl Heine. The suspect is Kabuo Miyamoto, a Japanese American who had arrangements to buy a part of Carl Heine?s strawberry farm. Kabuo Miyamoto is Hatsue?s husband. All evidence leads to Kabuo as being guilty in the murder Carl Heine, but information from an unlikely source proves him innocent. The information came from a juror, Ishmael Chambers; Hatsue?s child-hood love.
The author of the book did an excellent job with detail, suspense, and showing in detail, the events leading up to the innocence of Kabuo. When I was reading the book I was bored with the sections of Hatsue and Ishmael. I thought those scenes lagged and weren?t very exciting. What I didn?t know when I wasn?t finished with the book is that those scenes of Hatsue and Ishmael were so important to the outcome of the trial and of the whole story. When I was finished with the book I thought of the scenes of Hatsue and Ishmael , and I realized how important those scenes ended up being to the outcome. Even though while I was reading the book I thought some parts were boring, when I was done reading I understood the significance of those parts and I couldn?t imagine those parts not be included. The same was true with the movie of ?Snow Falling on Cedars?.
I think the director did the best he could, even though it wasn?t a reasonably good job, with the transition from developing this movie from the book. I believe just from the plot of the book that it wasn?t an easy job in making the transition from the book to the big screen. When I watched the movie I had already read the book so I already knew what the plot of the book was going to be, but my parents who watched it with me had no clue what the plot was because I didn?t tell them anything, and they had not read the book. My parents soon became very bored with the movie. They said it was very slow and dull. While those were their actions it wasn?t mine. I enjoyed the movie. It was fairly easy for me to follow the movie, and I was very aware of the situations. There were many parts of the movie that I had to tell my mom what was happening and where we were. Even though this was my first time watching the movie, I was acting like the teacher, and my other was the student because I had some experience with the book and my mother had not read it. If I didn?t read the book before I watched the movie I would have probably been just as lost as my mother was, and I would?ve shut the movie off, or go do something else. The same was true when I was reading the novel for the first time.
If it wasn?t for me showing up to all the classes, and participating in the discussions we had on the book, I know I wouldn?t have read beyond page fifty by myself. As soon as the story changed setting to Hatsue and Ishmael as children, I would?ve lost all interest in the book if it hadn?t been for the discussions we had in class. The same I think is true for watching the movie. If I didn?t read the book with the fullest understanding of it that I learned in class, I would?ve never have gained interest in the movie. The movie did move really slow at times, just like the book; at the same parts as a matter of fact.
When making a big screen picture from a novel the director has many options to consider. First, he has to decide on which parts of the novel he wants to put into his film. Since a typical novel is about four hundred pages long the director can?t put all of that into the film or else the movie will be ten hours long. And since the normal average attention span for a human is around the two hour mark, everyone will be disinterested in/sleeping before the movie is a third of the way finished. Because of our short attention spans, the director must delete a significant portion out of the novel, and still portray the main plot and theme of the novel. The director of the movie ?Snow falling on Cedars? did a superb job in staying with the plot of the book without changing it much, especially since he had a book with a difficult plot to work with in the first place. I noticed that the scenes were significantly shortened in the movie compared to the book, but that was just due to the director?s time restraints. The director also played around with the order of the plot too which I found quiet interesting. For example, in the book, flashbacks of Ishmael in war was first, and then was Kabuo?s war experience, where in the movie it was the other way around. The director also changed the plot around where in the beginning of the movie he showed Carl Heine in the shadows working on his boat and putting up the lantern. The book starts right out with everyone in the courtroom waiting for the start of the trial. I think the director wanted the viewers to get a quick understanding of the setting of the movie. If he started out in a courtroom the viewers would have no clue where the movie is taking place.
I think it was an outstanding choice for the director to use a tinted lens on the camera for this movie. It gives us a sense of an old-style movie, and since this took place in the nineteen-forties, that is appropriate. It also puts us in the right mood for this film. This is a romantic drama with not a whole lot of action occurring. If it were to be a regular lens with regular lighting, I think it tends to put us in a mood where there must be a lot of action, because a lot of lighting stands the picture out and puts it right in our face. The green tinted lens doesn?t have that same effect. It keeps the picture at a comfortable distance away, and it puts us in just the right mood for this movie. Another movie that I believe has great use of special effects, in a totally different way is ?The Perfect Storm?.
The director for ?The Perfect Storm? chose not to use a tinted lens for shooting because he wanted the viewers to be in the film, and experience the same action the actors are getting. This movie is a pure action-drama that puts the audience smack dab in the middle of the plot. That is different then ?Snow Falling on Cedars? because in that movie the audience is actually viewing and experiencing, but not a part of the film. The settings of the two films are similar. They both take place in small fishing villages; one on San Piedro Island, and one in Gloucester Massachusetts. One takes place in the Pacific Ocean in the nineteen forties and fifties, and one takes place in the Atlantic Ocean in nineteen ninety-one.
The effects in the movie of ?The Perfect Storm? are incredible. The director makes it seem like the waves are flying off the screen right into your living room. In the movie, we get to know a little about the fishermen?s families and where they all come from, but not much. I think that was the plan of the director because of course, the fishermen die at the end of the movie, and since this was more of an action movie, he didn?t want the viewers to get over static and filled with envy when they died. I thought the book was much different then the movie.
The largest difference between ?The Perfect Storm? and ?Snow Falling on Cedars? is that ?The Perfect Storm? was based on a true story. In that case, the novel of ?The Perfect Storm? was filled much more with facts, and the actual lifestyles of fishermen. The book went into detail on how tough the life of a fishermen was, and it went into great detail on how to swordfish. It talked about the crew of the swordfish boat, how to fish, and how much money can they earn on a normal expedition out to sea. Other than the job itself, the book went into detail on the lifestyles of Gloucester fishermen, especially of the crew that was part of the Andrea Gail. Since the director of the movie ?The Perfect Storm? had the same time guidelines as that of the director of ?Snow Falling on Cedars?, he had to leave the details of the lifestyles of the fishermen out, and concentrate more of them being caught in the storm because that is where the most action is.
One thing that I wish the director added into the movie that the book contained was a part about drowning. In the novel the author went into great detail on what it is like to drown. He interviewed people who had the unfortunate experience of almost drowning. One person was found after being submerged in the water for fifteen minutes. He was then revived, and he lives to tell his story. I wish the director of the film showed one of the crew in detail drowning because I found it interesting. The reason I believe he didn?t because it is too gruesome and hard for some people to bear which I understand.
The book never went into any detail on how the Andrea Gail went down in the storm because no one knows or else the crew would probably still be with us today. The author mentioned the last transmissions between the Andrea Gail and another swordfish boat, and he talks about what they were probably thinking, but that?s it. In order to make a movie out of the book though, the director had to add a totally made up ending as to how the Andrea Gail went down to please the audience. I think he did a good job with that, although I think the part in the end where the captain of the boat had a chance to get out of the boat but doesn?t because he is to honorable to his ship is a sack of *censored*. I don?t care how honorable I am to anything if I have a chance to live I will try my hardest to get into a better situation.
Any director who volunteers themselves to be part of a film based on a book is asking for a challenge. As a species, us humans need action; we have to be doing something all the time. That is why our attention span is so short, and that is why we give directors a hard time. If our attention span lasted ten hours then the directors would have an easy job converting a book to a movie. Just go by whatever is in the book, and follow the book chapter by chapter. But of course our attention span isn?t nearly that long so that leaves it up to the director to leave out some things here, and add other things here. All in all though, I believe the directors of both ?Snow Falling on Cedars? and ?The Perfect Storm? did an excellent job in converting a novel to the big screen with what they had to work with.
The answer to my question in the beginning of my paper is yes. You can learn more in reading a book then you can in watching a movie. It?s all due to our short attention span that I have discussed so much about. I?m not saying you don?t learn anything while watching a movie. In fact, with the right story, and the right director, you can learn a lot more than in reading some of these books that are out there now. Since much more detail (a.k.a information) can be put into a novel than a movie we often get much more out of reading then watching tv. I do believe that some day that might change. If we can find out a way to lengthen our attention span, I believe that we can get much more out of watching a movie then a book. They say you can study better if you write down what your studying, then read it to yourself, then say it out loud, and then have someone read it to you. While reading all you can do is read it, and maybe have somebody read it to you. But if we can find a way of entertainment that can let us use all of our techniques of studying without letting us know that we are actually studying, it will make everyone on this planet smarter, and then who knows what will happen. What I?m saying is that if we can incorporate reading and watching a film together, that will be the most intellectual form of entertainment we could possibly have. But for now all I can recommend is to vary your forms of entertainment. Have the best of both worlds. Read when you have some free time during the day after work, and then go to the movies on the weekend!
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