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stfl42

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Comparison between book and film. (For my English Class), 27 March 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

John Steinbeck's original novel The Grapes of Wrath was intended as a stunning critique of life in contemporary America; the film, meanwhile, is rather tame in comparison. This is of course understandable when considering the film industry in the 1930s and '40s, making movies required money and corporate sponsors were not likely to hand out money to produce a savage critique of they society that they dominated. The film does stay mostly faithful to the book, with much of the dialogue taken verbatim from the original text, but has three major departures. The first of these differences is, understandably, the loss of the inner chapters that served as parables and generalizations in Steinbeck's novel; most of them would have been hard to write into a cohesive movie. The films second departure is the loss of much of the socialistic rants and sermons from Jim Casy, the almost prophetic former preacher that accompanies the Joad family on their exodus. In fact, his character in the film is downplayed until his two moments of self-sacrifice, while in the book he is almost as important as Tom Joad himself. The third, most drastic departure is the alteration of events at the end of the film; which have been re-ordered or cut out to dull the novels original ultimatum. The Joad families stay at the corporate farm is put before their stay at the government camp, lending the film an upbeat sense of hope that the text was certainly lacking. Also, and perhaps most importantly, the filmmakers cut the last scene of the book out of the script. Instead of ending with Rose of Sharon's miscarriage, the flood, and the family taking refuge in the barn, the movie ends with the family on the road to pick cotton, hopeful of finding work and saving enough to settle down. The film ends with hope, whereas the book ends with an ultimatum: pursue self interest and let individuals and families perish (capitalism) or let "the I become we" and live in a utopia (socialism).