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East of Eden
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Reviews & Ratings for
East of Eden More at IMDbPro »

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Style Over Substance

5/10
Author: jstock426 from United States
14 October 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Does "East of Eden" do what a great film should do, namely, make the viewer lose himself in it? Well, no, not often enough. It exudes style but lacks the enchantment of good storytelling.

Regarding James Dean, his pretty boy looks and premature death behind the wheel of his Porsche elevated him to godlike status; however, how someone with the demeanor of a three-year-old in the back seat of a '54 Nash (without air conditioning) during a long trip on a hot summer day rose so high puzzles; nonetheless, he ranks as the big draw for most people.

It is Julie Harris, commanding and deserving top billing, who puts in a great performance. The camera gravitates toward her, and she owns her character, Abra. Harris' talent dwarfs Dean's. She emotes with her eyes whereas Dean must bang on all the pots and pans to express himself.

As to other issues, the sound track annoys to no end (as does the one in "On The Waterfront"). Kazan lacked subtly in this regard, often allowing the volume and musical selection to overwhelm the scene. Scene continuity deserved more careful editing, too.

"East of Eden" delivers Kazan, but it shouts rather than whispers the Steinbeck story.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

comparison to book

5/10
Author: slesch3397
4 October 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

From an entertainment basis, this move was successful, with captivating performances by all of the actors. But after reading John Steinbeck's novel, this movie hits miles below the mark he had intended. The first major flaw with the movie is the starting point, which takes place more than halfway through the book. This leaves audience members who have yet to read the book clueless to the Trask family history. Also, there is no mention of Lee in the movie. This serves to take away from the novel, since Lee was the first character to bring about the main theme of Timshell surrounding the novel. Without Lee, there is no Timshell, and without TImshell, there is no East of Eden. There are other flaws in the movie, such as the scene where Cal asks Kate for the loan, or when they only harassed the German man instead of burning down his shop. These and several other minor flaws, along with the major flaws previously mentioned, serve only to take away from the author's intended purpose of the novel. Overall, I believe that this movie did not meet the standards that John Steinbeck would have accepted in his writing of East of Eden.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

East of eden

3/10
Author: Nphill2011
29 September 2013

While the movie East of Eden had the benefit of an outstanding cast, the overall movie was crippled by drastic deviation from the book along with poor writing. The cast in East of Eden is first class. The actors take the script (as poor as it was) and brought it to life. Scenes of emotion were quite well conveyed, actors wailing and celebrating as the script required of them. For the most part the characters are portrayed authentically and true to the book. The Actors themselves did everything that was humanly possible to make this film a success. However, while the actors were striving to create something watchable It would seem the director was not. While it did seem that he went to the book for the movies overall design, he did not to the book for details. He left out some of the most important characters and themes. He completely omitted the entirety of the message of the book, Timshel the thought that man has a choice, in favor of something along the lines of a basic allusion to Cain and Abel. The movie did not feature Lee, who in my opinion was one of the best and most telling characters in the book. Also not featured among those portrayed was Samuel Hamilton, a key player in Steinbeck's original message. Aside from lacking characters the movie was completely void of the primary message Steinbeck relayed to his audience, Timshel. Lastly, the movie was crippled by an absolutely terrible script. The dialogue was consistently strange if not totally incoherent, not to mention one instance where the character seemed to spout pure and unfettered gibberish. Not word was uttered about Timshel or even the conflict of good and evil. The script for this movie was cluttered with irrelevant statements that left the audience either laughing or wondering why it was included in the first place. All in all the movie East Of Eden was crippled by its lack of correlation to the book and its poorly written script, despite having an outstanding cast.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Dean unusually dramatic

Author: (daviddaphneredding@att.net) from United States
24 September 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This probably was James Dean's greatest feat. In this character study, he comes across excellently as the bitter brother Cal (Caleb) Trask who is, for all practical purposes, unloved and rejected. When he is supposed to be hostile, he is very much this way toward his brother Aron, played superbly by Richard Davalos. Raymond Massey, definitely an outstanding actor, as the father Adam Trask was one you wanted to hate because of his bitterness and hard-cored hate toward the youngest son Cal, while at the same time he definitely wanted everyone to know that he loved Aron. It's only fair and more accurate to say that the movie is based on only a part of John Steinbeck's outstanding novel. It doesn't deal with Adam Trask as a baby and young boy, and later the man who was abandoned by his wife Cathy. In turn, it doesn't deal with Cathy as the promiscuous person who was this way even as a girl. Still, it is an outstanding production. Again, the story addressed the matter of hypocrisy, since Adam and Aron were allegedly the Christians in the family. They were, again, however, hypocrites since they didn't really love Cal. In the story, in their early days of marriage Cathy Trask left Adam because he was, in a sense, claiming to be so good. Though Jo Van Fleet did not act in any "outstanding" movie, she was very capable in this movie as the madam which Cathy Trask became. She should be given credit for this, despite the role of the base person she portrayed. It can be, as has been, considered a modern-day parody of the story of Cain and Abel. In one scene, after a gift Cal gave his father Adam was rejected, which spurned Cal to kill his brother, after the "killing" (which was actually a nervous breakdown on Aron's part after Cal one day "introduced" Aron to their mother) when Adam asks where Cal was, Cal asks in a smart-aleck manner if he was his brother's keeper. (Of course, the "modern day" was 1917 in northern California.) Again, it was an excellent character study, and a superb role for Dean which only he could have patentedly played. And too, it was a great masterpiece for the producer Elia Kazan. The pristine beauty of northern California was impressive. Because of the beautiful scenery, the excellent acting, and the probing story, this great production is considered something of a classic.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Rather disappointing as an adaptation

3/10
Author: gparrilla3733
22 September 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

As an adaptation of John Steinbeck's novel, "East of Eden" falls short. The movie leaves out the first three parts of the novel (though this is forgivable, given the pacing issues that could arise in movie form), leaves out the character Lee, who introduces the concept of "timshel", and, as a result, ultimately ignores the moral message of the novel. The idea of "timshel", which is Hebrew for "thou mayest", is used by John Steinbeck to assert his message of free will as opposed to predestination; because the movie abandons this concept, all that is left is a story about the love triangle happening between Cal, Aron, and Abra. To one who hasn't read the novel, this plot line may be sufficient, but to one who has, the focus on this love triangle (which did not even occur in the novel; Abra and Cal did not show romantic interest in each other until after Aron had left to go to war) may bring disappointment.

However, the portrayals of the characters that were not cut out were mostly accurate to the novel (Jo Van Fleet's performance as Kate was probably the closest to the original character), and the acting was not particularly bad, though there were scenes, such as the fight between Cal and Aron, where the acting was bad to the point of making the serious scene hilarious.

I might recommend this if you're looking for a bad or cheesy movie to make fun of with your friends (the Cal and Aron fight is particularly amusing for this purpose). Overall, this movie is rather inaccurate to the source material and thus a sub-par adaptation.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Disappointed reader

4/10
Author: uniformsierraalpha7 from United States
22 September 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The film was a poorly directed and disappointing rendition of the novel and its moral.To be fair, one can only fit so much of such an extensive story into a movie, providing the director reasonable excuse to start so late into the novel, but also making him even more responsible for the fragment of the story he chose to recreate. The film in its entirety felt much like a roller coaster, having many interesting/exciting parts but lacking any real direction or focus. In relation to the novel, the film barely managed to show a connection, which was only achieved by loosely portraying major events and the characters themselves. The cast themselves, despite their valiant effort, either underacted or overacted, taking whatever moral or lesson the story might have possibly been connected to, and beating it even more, until it was barely recognizably, if existent at all. Throughout the film, the number of loose ends and spontaneous changes of depth in meaning was overwhelming, to the point of sight nausea. Significant scenes holding any philosophical value were also few and far between.

To be fair, the film, when observed independent of its literary counterpart (if that relationship can even be established!) did maintain some level of intrigue, managing to keep me fairly interested and somewhat entertained. The actors also managed to retain some portion of the intensity and urgency ever so abundant in the novel, as well as maintain the personality of their personae.

To conclude, the film missed the standard set by the novel so intricately written by Stienbeck. The bulk of my disappointment, which was immense to say the least, was the utter failure of the film to accurately portray the novel it was named after. Though decent as a film itself, it is sure to disappoint those who have rad the novel and enjoyed it in its entirety.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

So bad it's funny

2/10
Author: nvaynberg0459 from Mr.White's classroom
22 September 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is one of the many examples where the book is infinitely better than the movie. The director strayed way too far from the book. She left out so much of the plot and character development, if I hadn't read the book I would not understand what was going on.

Let's start with the way the characters were interpreted. Cal seems like he has a bolt loose rather than him being evil which I found hard to digest. Aron is played very well and appears to be innocent like he should be up until the end where he goes crazy and smashes the window with his head which never happened in the book by the way. My favorite character in the book who I believe to be the most in depth and complex, Lee, wasn't even in there! In the novel Kate always looked young and beautiful and had a large scar on her forehead which was key to the allegorical parallelism in the book, however in the movie she had no scar and was very wrinkled.

Perhaps the biggest disappointment in this movie is in the last scene where Adam is dying and he doesn't say the word "Timshel". The entire book leads up to this moment and is the overall message Steinbeck tries to convey and it's not in the movie. The good thing about this movie though, are the dramatic fight scenes were performed in such a way that it sounds like a joke so you can't help but laugh. I really don't like how the director interpreted the novel, maybe if I didn't read East Of Eden before hand, I might have actually liked the movie. so my advice is; if you've read the novel, don't watch the movie, it will most definitely ruin your day.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

While James Dean performs spectacularly in his role as Cal, East of Eden diverges too much from the original novel for my taste.

2/10
Author: rgonzalez7927 from United States
22 September 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

John Steinbeck's novel, East of Eden, has been hailed as a literary masterpiece, even earning a Nobel Prize in literature. Filmmaker Elia Kazan directed the film adaptation of East of Eden. The film stars James Dean as Caleb Trask, Richard Davalos as Aron Trask, Raymond Massey as Adam Trask, and Julie Harris as Abra. The film was also hailed as great, and was nominated for 4 Academy Awards, of which it won one for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. I, however, disagree with The Academy's opinion of the movie. While James Dean portrayed Cal Trask very well, the movie changed the theme of the book and left out two very significant characters.

Caleb Trask, or Cal as he's referred to in the book, is a very emotionally complex character. He is the representation of Cain in the youngest generation of the Trask family. But unlike Adam's brother Charles, Cal actually wants to be good and fights the his inner darkness for the entirety of his story arc. Therefore, to portray Cal accurately an actor must be able to show the inner turmoil of emotions that Cal feels whenever he feels himself slipping over to the dark side. Jimmy Dean captures this mentality amazingly. In several scenes you can actually see him squirm and struggle with his emotions over Aron, Abra, and his father. In one particularly heart wrenching scene, after Adam rejects Cal's gift, Dean, improvising outside of the script, slowly crawls over to Massey and embraces him in a bear hug, crying and sobbing loudly. Adam then pushes Cal away, only increasing the audience's sympathy for Cal. In my opinion, this scene was the highlight of Dean's acting in the entire movie, and except for a few glaring examples, Dean is able to portray this same level of dedication to his character for most of the movie. It's no wonder he was nominated for an Academy Award for this role. However, Dean's acting can't save this movie.

The novel dealt with many themes, foremost among them the theme of Timshel, or free will. There are several conversations about Timshel throughout the book, usually between Lee, Samuel, or Adam, and in the ending scene of the book, when Cal is begging his father for forgiveness, Adam's last word is Timshel. Thus, the biblical allusion to the story of Cain and Abel is completed, and the theme of free will is brought to the forefront. In the movie, the same scene is treated radically different. Instead of saying Timshel, Adam tells Cal to get rid of the nurse and asks Cal to take care of him himself. The message of the movie is redemption, and the last scene lets the audience know that Cal has finally redeemed himself to his father and finally won his acceptance and love. This theme of redemption is a polar opposite to the theme of the book. The novel's grandest message is that everyone has to choose to be good or bad, and you aren't born bad or predestined to be good. Using the Cain and Abel parable, Steinbeck even goes so far as to say that God won't guarantee that Cain, and therefore humanity, will overcome sin, but that it's up to Cain to choose to overcome sin himself. This theme of free will cannot coexist with the theme of redemption or seeking love and acceptance, because seeking redemption puts your fate in someone's else's hands, not your own. Cain sought redemption from God, and God told him that it was up to him to make the right choices. The movie radically changed the moral of the story, which alienated most people who read the book, including myself.

Lastly, the movie adaptation skipped the majority of the book. Now, it's well known that a movie can't capture every detail in a book, and I even enjoy it when movies take some artistic liberties with their source material. However, when the movie leaves out two of the most significant characters in the book, I think it loses something in the process. Specifically, the movie left out Samuel Hamilton and Lee. For the most part, Steinbeck uses Samuel, an Irish immigrant, and Lee, a Chinese servant for the Trask family, to explore American racism and to discuss the philosophical ideas raised in the book. Additionally, Samuel and Lee are often integral parts of the story. They are the two people who pull Adam out of his stupor after Cathy leaves him, and Samuel is the one who thinks of Aron and Cal's names. After Samuel dies, Lee becomes the moral, intellectual, and philosophical backbone of the entire Trask family and the book as a whole. It's Lee who actually discovers Timshel, after studying the original Hebrew of the Bible, and brings it to the attention of Samuel, Adam, and, later, Cal. Without Samuel and Lee, East of Eden falls apart as a story. To prevent this, the movie fused Abra and Lee's characters into one hybrid character, but in doing so lost most of the philosophy of Lee and a good deal of Abra's character development as well.

While the movie version of East of Eden has some strong points, it ultimately pales in comparison to the book. The movie tries to change too much and loses the intellectual and philosophical ideas that won the book its Nobel Prize. While I didn't expect the movie to show all parts of the book, I cannot support such a drastic rewrite of a classic novel. East of Eden was the single loosest movie adaptation of a book I've seen since The Lightning Thief, and I can't help but come away disappointed after watching this movie.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Poor Book-to-Movie Portrayal

4/10
Author: tpace4288 from United States
21 September 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The "East of Eden" movie directed by Elia Kazan was a little unsatisfactory after just reading Steinbeck's novel. I felt that Elia left out many important scenes, characters, and plots that would have tied the movie closer to the book. Two reasons for this low rating is the shift in the story, and the poor portrayal of the characters by their respective actors.

Although Elia does get the point of the story across in an efficient way, he doesn't connect it as Steinbeck did. Steinbeck included many bits and pieces of background information way before the main story commences in Elia's depiction, and allowed for a foundation to understand where everything is derived from. The omission of those events could cause a viewer who hasn't read the novel to be confused at times and curious as to what was going on.

Also, the actors in the movie did not show who the characters were in an efficient way. One example being Aron's coldness to Cal near the beginning of the movie, whereas in the novel, Aron really never turned on Cal until the night of the party. Another example could be how Abel fell in love with Cal before Aron left to the military, creating an added conflict between the brothers that did not occur in the novel, and thus separating further from the novel.

Overall, I think the movie could have related more to the movie, giving a more stick-to-the-plan feel for the readers, and leaving the viewers who did not read the novel with a clear understanding of Steinbeck's point.

-T

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

It was respectable!

8/10
Author: Ida Rather-Not
19 September 2013

One who has read the Steinbeck classic would tell you there were many differences between the movie and the book (like any other book made into a movie). The book was almost destroyed: characters had different personalities and characteristics, important people and events were omitted, and the storyline was different. The theme of choice and the parallelism to the book of Genesis gave the book life, but that sense was missing in the movie. Despite the critiques toward the movie about the book, I do believe the director worked well with the masterpiece of a book he was given to write a movie about. The actors were respectable (Dean was exactly what I pictured as Cal and played a brilliant role) and the director omitted half of the background and storyline and still managed to create a fairly entertaining film!

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