Print vs. Film: Remediating a text

Alyssa Curry

“George, how long’s it gonna be till we get that little place an’ live on the fatta the lan’ – an’ rabbits?” (Steinbeck 62).

If you are currently reading this blog post and you recognize the source of this quote, you are correct, it is indeed Of Mice and Men, written by John Steinbeck in 1937. With this being said, if you do not know the novel I am quoting from, you are certainly missing out and I strongly recommend that you go out and buy it as of right now (it really is that good). However, in all seriousness, you may have watched the film version of this novel and you STILL might not have known this exact quote. Why is it that this exact quote is more likely to be recognizable for someone who has read the printed text versus someone who has only seen the film Of Mice and Men? The answer, my friends, is “remediation”.

What is “remediation,” you may ask?

Image: (c) Alyssa Curry.

Image: (c) Alyssa Curry.

Remediation is “moving a text from one medium to another”. (Yin Liu). A commonly used remediation is to change the format of the printed text into a film which is illustrated with Of Mice and Men. Have you ever read a novel and and then watched its remediated film version? How was the outcome? Possibly disappointing? I mention this because the feeling of disappointment after watching a film occurs more often than not with someone who has previously read the novel. The result of feeling disappointment may be caused from a variety of different reasons such as the following described below.

One of the biggest differences when it comes to novels versus films are the thoughts and images formulated by the reader while reading a novel. There is somewhat of a bond that is created between the reader and the characters while they are reading and this makes the reader feel almost as though it appears they are inside of the novel themselves. Readers tend to “create their own mental images of the world and the people portrayed in novels” and “are interested in comparing their images with those created by the film-maker” (Karlsson 14). Therefore, it is likely that the images and thoughts that are portrayed in the reader’s head will not be exactly the same in the remediated film and readers may leave the film thinking “That’s Not How I Pictured It!” (Santos).

Why do readers develop these thoughts and images when they read a novel?

Readers create all of these thoughts and images in their heads due to the explicit details that are provided in the novel. Condensing the action of a novel into the length of a film tends to leave out many small details and these details may change the overall scenes from those in a novel. Below is an example of this particular situation:

“George, that’s just my mouse. But I didn’t kill it, George. Honest, I found it dead.”  (Sinise)

“Uh-uh. Jus’ a dead mouse, George. I didn’ kill it. Honest! I found it. I found it dead.” (Steinbeck 6).

The two quotes above demonstrate an obvious difference between a film and the printed text in the novel. The top quote is taken from the online movie script Of Mice and Men, and the bottom quote is taken from the novel Of Mice and Men. This remediation shows how the language of the characters from Of Mice and Men is written differently in a film compared to its original novel. These two lines are different in the mediums because there are two different techniques that the author and the film maker have to use for viewers to get to know the characters. The film maker uses a technique of giving the viewers a visualization of the characters and their traits. On the other hand, the author of a book is able to give the readers mental images through the many provided details given about the characters and their traits.

Last but not least, the difference between the novel and the film Of Mice and Men is that the film indeed did not do justice to the printed text. Although both versions are still good, in my opinion, I found that the printed text alone provided more interest and scenes which connected me more connected with it. A good example of this difference would be one of the saddest parts in this novel/film. (Warning, this may be a spoiler alert if you are reading this book or watching the film so do not keep reading if you do not want to know the end!) The scene I have chosen occurs at the very end of the film, and it involves one of the main characters, George, shooting his best friend. In the printed text, this scene is emotional and it is obvious that the man hesitates and appears to suffer as he is conflicted with the act of having to kill his friend. However, in the film there is no hesitation within the man, and this leads to the audience questioning his actions and the character’s true friendship.

Works Cited:

Steinbeck, John. Of Mice and Men. Viking Press: New York, 1937.

Roth, Zachary. “Of Mice and Men: movie/book comparison”. 2014. Web. 16 Oct. 2016.

Sinise, Gary. Script for the movie Of Mice and Men. Web. 16 Oct. 2016.

Karlsson, Sven-Göran. “The Book was Better than the Movie A study of the relationship between literature and film in educationDiVA Portal”. P. 1-47. 3 Nov. 2016.

Santos, Rich. “6 Reasons The book Is (Almost Always) Better Than The Movie)”. Oct 2, 2013. Web. 4 Nov. 2016.

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