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For a Variety of Viewers, 28 March 2011
7/10

This film surely deserved being nominated in the Academy Awards. Steinbeck's message was butchered and the story of the Okies disgraced. These two viewpoints are both fairly accurate in their own respect. Indeed this is very entertaining and captivates its audience, but it also twists the story Steinbeck conveys in his book. Before considering whether or not to view this movie, you first need to know if it is the right match for yourself.

Entertainment: If you are searching for the perfect movie to sit back on a Friday night, maybe reminisce in the past, eat some popcorn, enjoy a classic movie, then you should continue reading under heading. This film did deserve being nominated for best film in the Academy Awards. Excellent cinematography and great actors like Henry Fonda and John Carradine set this movie apart and make the audience really feel for the Joads. After losing their family farm, the Joads set out as migrant workers on their way to California. They overcome adversity as the try to get settled and find work, despite the attitudes of the land owners. This is a story of overcoming odds and no matter what happens, staying together as a community, as the people.

Compare and Contrast: If you're looking to see how this movie compares to this book and are hoping that it will accurately depict Steinbeck's novel, then turn around. I'm not saying this is a bad movie, it does tell the story of the Joads and shows the problem they are facing, but the way in which the Joads combat this diversity is different between the two works. The beauty of the inner chapters isn't expressed to its full potential in the movie. It's not expected that this can be done, but the effects of the inner chapters is part of what made the novel what it was. In the book, the inner chapters tied the Joads to the entire community and helped set up some context. The movie tells some of the stories of those in the inner chapters, but doesn't give the sense of community that the book has. Along with the lack of sense of community the relationship of the family is not the same between the two entities. In the book the two kinds of families, the Joads and John Davis', are compared. The difference between the two are having the family break up, but have community replace it, or have a family that stays together, but their connection to the community is destroyed. The movie seems to take the stance of Joe Davis' family because the focus is put on the family and the aspects of the family falling apart like Noah's Departure and the Joads connection to their community is downsized. The Joads never meet the Wilsons and the boxcar seen is completely taken out. Also the family farm isn't really shown in detail and there isn't a sense of connection to the agriculture because not a single peach or piece of cotton is shown. This brings me to my next point.

Students: If you need to read this book over the summer before going back to school, watch this movie. It seems like a spark note of the book as it summarizes the travels of the family and their hardships. However, if you need to discuss the themes of this book, you might not get a very good grade. The problems of the Joads remain intact, but the solutions of their problems are different. Emphasis is put on the people instead of sacrifice to move forward.

This is truly a good movie, but if you are hoping it will reflect the book, you might not enjoy it as much. Personally having read the book myself, I did enjoy this movie and respected it for what it did achieve for its time; however you can't view this thinking that it will be like watching Steinbeck tell his story.