Traditionally, literary works have been a source of inspiration for cinematography and often directors borrowed some ideas or even the whole stories from literary work creating their unique screen version. It should be pointed out that literary works and films differ dramatically even though they are based on one and the same story. In other words, film does not necessarily resemble the original book the plot of the story is borrowed from. On the other hand, a film, being based on a literary work, brings certain additional emotions, feelings, and even sense to the general line of the story depicted in the book.
Obviously, such contradictions could not keep critics, in both domains literary and cinematography, from comparison and contrast of books and films which actually represent two different arts though they may have a lot of common features. In such a situation on analyzing a film and a book, it is necessary to take into consideration significant differences between screen version and literary sample of one and the same story. To put it more precisely, it is necessary to take into consideration the fact that a film and a book produce different effects since they affect different senses. For instance, a film may use visualization as a strong tool of influencing the audience while a book is basically focused on imaginative thinking of readers.
On the other hand, it is also important to remember about such a peculiarity of a film as its duration and fluency. In this respect, it is necessary to point out that the audience perceive the film as a solid, uninterruptible performance, while, on reading a book, people can normally return and rethink certain episodes as long as they like. Obviously, they lack this possibility while watching a film. As a result, they can make their judgment about the film and evaluate and reevaluate certain episodes from the film only a posteriori. This is why it is extremely important that the film had a clear message conveyed to the audience that could be perceived possibly more easily than if this were a book.
However, it is hardly possible to really perceive the difference and similarities between a film and a book without comparing and contrasting some of them. In this respect, the movie and the book titled “The Notebook” seem to be particularly interesting for analysis since the film is based on the book and the general plot line is practically the same, as well as the main themes discussed by the author of the book and the director of the film. Also, it is important to underline that films and books, including the two mentioned above, are often focused on some really significant and disturbing themes and it is very important to trace how these themes, which are presumably common for the book and the film, are presented by the author and director and conveyed to the readers and audience respectively.
In this respect, it is possible to refer to eternal theme of the impact of social barriers on human relations and the irresistible power of passion and such a strong feeling as love.
Social barriers in human relations and irresistible power of true love
Actually, it is necessary to underline that social barriers have been always in the focus of attention of many writers and the fast developing cinematography naturally focused on this theme as well. At the same time the problem of social barriers was often contrasted by the problem of their overcoming and eve destruction and often authors of books and directors of films referred to human passions as one of the major source and stimulus which could ruin any barriers in human relations.
In this respect, such a feeling as love is one of the strongest human passions. As a result, it seems to be quite natural that authors and directors often refer to the irresistible power of love which turns to be able to overcome or even destroy any obstacles on its way to happiness. Obviously, the creators of the film and the author of the book “The Notebook” also tend to accept this point of view.
At the same time, it is necessary to say that often human relations are too complicated and it is practically impossible to objectively present the real life. In such a situation, creative power of an author’s or director’s genius is getting to be particularly important to depict the complexity of human relations and the irresistible power of love. In this respect, it should be said that a director has more opportunities since he has assistants constituting the staff working on the film. On the other hand, it creates certain problems since each person working on the film makes his/her own contribution in the final version that may also make the film version different from the original literary work. Nonetheless, it does not make the significance of the problem of social barriers any less important and the power of love less strong. Thus, this theme remains eternal and both writers and directors would be focused on it.
Social barriers in human relations and irresistible power of true love as depicted by the author of the book and as shown in the movie “The Notebook”
Obviously, the problem of social barriers in human relations and irresistible power of true love can clearly be traced in both the book and the movie “The Notebook”. It should be pointed out that both the book and the movie vividly depict the problem two main characters faced in their life, notably the problem of a great social gap between them and stereotypes dominating in the society. To put it more precisely, it should be said that both the author of the book, Nicholas Sparks, and the director of the movie, Nick Cassavetes, attempted to convey a love story of Allie Nelson and Noah Calhoun who fell in love but were separated by an unsurpassable social barrier since they represented different classes of the societies that affected dramatically their relations. In fact, the problem was that human relations are too complicated that is getting to be obvious on reading the book, or on watching the film, since because of the social differences between the two loving people their relatives, notably parents of Allie oppose to her marriage with Noah who turns to be too poor for their daughter.
In this respect, it is possible to speak about similarities of the book and the movie since they treat human relations in the similar way. Obviously, the complexity of human relations forms the backbone of the book and the movie. At the same time, both the author and the director attempts to solve the problem in a romantic way developing the concept of the irresistible power of love, which eventually led Allie and Noah to the reunification.
Dramatic and fictional elements from the book and dramatic and fictional elements in the movie
Speaking about dramatic and fictional elements of “The Notebook”, both the book and the novel, it should be pointed out that to a certain extent they are similar, though there are also present significant differences that seems to be absolutely unacceptable when the original version presented in the book is compared to the film version.
First of all, it is necessary to start with the plot, which basically is similar for both the book and the movie. In general, it is a story of Allie and Noah who felt in love and had to overcome the resistance of the parents of Allie and social barriers on the way to their happiness.
The exposition of the story starts in a nursing home where the love story of Allie and Noah is like a legend well-known for all its residents. At the beginning an elderly man named Duke tells this love story to Allie, another resident of the nursing home. Such an exposition is very important since the further development of the events will reveal that the two elderly individuals are not simply passive teller and listener of the story but, in fact, they are the main characters and this story is actually the story of the great love of Allie to Noah.
At first glance, it seems to be quite strange why Duke is telling the story he knows so well but as soon as the health problems of Allie are getting to be clear, notably she suffers from Alzheimer’s, than it turns to be obvious that she is mentally unable to keep the story in her memory while Duke attempts to keep this story alive as a metaphorical symbol of the great love of Allie and Noah that has inevitably died in the past. However, it is possible to guess the extent to which the situation depicted in the exposition is really tragic for both characters it is necessary to watch the film or read the book till the end.
Actually, the story told by Duke forms the basis of the book and the film. In fact, the events in the story develop progressively starting from the acquaintance of Allie and Noah and their further love. In this respect, it is necessary to emphasize certain differences between the book and the movie that are very significant. To put it more precisely, it should be said that the time line of the book and the movies is very different. In this respect, it should be said that according to the book the main characters are younger, for instance Allie is fifteen in the book and seventeen in the movie. So at this young age the main characters fall in love and face the main obstacle on their way to happiness – the opposition of Allie’s parents to her marriage with Noah caused by the differences in their social position.
Nonetheless, Noah and Allie cannot help from continuing their relations and they spend the whole summer together. Than the things are getting worse when Noah and Allie decides to stay out late and have sex in an abandoned mansion. The tension of the story is constantly growing and it is getting to be clear that the further events should lead to the further dramatization of the story. As a result, Allie’s parents send police to look for her and decide to stop her relationship with Noah by taking her out of the town before their relations have not grown any deeper.
This episodes seems to be one of the key moments of the book as well as the movie since it implies the departure and long separation of Allie and Noah who really love each other. In this respect, it is again possible to refer to the differences in the time line of the story since the separation of the main characters of the book lasts longer than it is in the film. In such a way, intentionally or not a certain effect is created. To put it more precisely, the following reunification of Allie and Noah seems to be much more dramatic in the book than in the movies since in, according to the original version of Nicholas Sparks, they have been separated for much longer time, while the director of the film has preferred to shorten this period.
Probably, Nick Cassavetes was motivated by purely pragmatic reasons such as the importance of public opinion and moral values which could be shattered by the appearance of young people who fell in love at the age of fifteen. In such a way, the director could simply prefer to make the main characters older in order to avoid public prejudices. On the other hand, it may reveal the attempt of the director to rethink the story written by the author. For instance, he could change the age of the main characters when they first met in order to show that their love was really mature and they could love each other for real and it wasn’t just a passion caused by hormones typical for teenagers. At the same time, the period of separation is shorter in the movie probably because of the director’s attempts to make the story more realistic.
Anyway, the characters eventually reunite even though a lot of important events have already occurred in their life. Briefly speaking, Allie is scheduled to marry another man, remaining ignorant about Noah’s love and his attempts to reunite since he has been written letters to Allie within the year but she has not got any of them because of her mother ‘labors’. Nonetheless, he still remains faithful to his love and builds up the mansion they dreamed about with Allie and it is due to this mansion they reunite.
At this point, it is necessary to point out that the mansion itself is a great symbol, a metaphor of their love since it is resurrected practically from ruins exactly like the mansion restored by Noah.
In fact, the moment of their reunification seems to be the climax of the story since it symbolizes probably the greatest change in the life of Noah and Allie since both they realize the strength of their love and the fact that they cannot actually live separately. Obviously, the climax may be clearly defined in both the book and the movie.
However, there is another very important difference between the film and the book that is revealed in the denouement. To put it more precisely, according to the author of the book, Noah’s story is continued in the novel “The Wedding” where the writer reveals that only Allie has died, while in the film Noah and Allie dies together in the end. Probably, it is an attempt of the director to ‘recompense’ the lack of romanticism caused by change of the time line of the story.
Also, it should be said that there are also other details that make the book and the novel different though they are obviously secondary, compared to the similarities and differences mentioned above.
For instance, in the film Noah dated Martha, while in the book their relations are purely platonic, though in the novel Noah still had a serious girlfriend after Allie. Nonetheless, this detail also contributes to the general trend to shortening of the time line and even plot of the story in the film compared to the book.
Literary points of view vs. cinematic points of view
As it has been just mentioned above the trend of the creators of the film to shorten the time line and the plot of the story is obvious that indicates at the peculiarity of cinematic point of view on the story, which is different from literary point of view.
On comparing literary and cinematic points of view, it is necessary to underline that they are quite different though they are practically identical in the general line of the story with the exception of the denouement of the literary work and the film. In this respect, it is necessary to underline that the main difference between the literary and cinematic points of view is in their view on the internal and external world of individuals.
Obviously, the writer perfectly reveals the internal world of the main characters using interior monologues, descriptive elements and particular attention to psychological state of the characters. In stark contrast, from the cinematic points of view, external world of the characters and the complexity of human relations in its external form seem to be more important basically because it is much more difficult to reveal internal world of the characters in the movie while the perfect visualization contributes to better understanding the characters from outside.
Anyway, it is hardly possible to argue that both the book and the movie are highly subjective and the differences that may be found between literary and screen versions of “The Notebook’ only emphasizes the extent of the director’s and author’s subjectivity.
Use of a musical score in the film, editing, acting in the film, and director’s style
It is also noteworthy to briefly discuss a musical score, editing, acting, and director’s style in order to better understand differences between the book and the movie discussed.
First of all, it should be said that some elements such as music, for instance, seem to be properly and skillfully used and contribute to the creation of ambiance corresponding to the epoch of the story and viewers participation in the events they see on the screen. In this respect, it is worthy to mention that the creators of the film use successfully nostalgic music which traditionally sounds when the characters returns to their past. The same may be said about the background music which is also properly used.
At the same time, editing work have made the film significantly different from the original literary work. In addition to the shifts in the time line, it is worthy to mention the flash backs to the past events which help to better understand the general plot of the story.
It is also necessary to briefly dwell upon the operator’s work which is also quite skillful. The creators of the film use properly shades out and shades in when the transition from the present action to the past, i.e. when Duke starts the story, occurs and viewers naturally are involved into the love story from the past with the help of play of shades.
On analyzing operator’s work, it is particularly noteworthy to discuss types of shot which are used in the film. It should be said that the creators of the film use deep shots and close ups in order to convey the emotions and feelings of the main characters that naturally contribute to the better understanding of the director’s message and the theme of the film. This is particularly important when the main characters talk about their love and sufferings. Long shots used in the film are also helpful for better perception of the life and actions of the main characters. In fact, long shots make the audience simply to be deepened in the epoch when the story takes place.
Furthermore, it should be said that some details create some negative attitude to the film since they make the actors and the events described in the movie simply unreal, if not to say funny. For instance, such an insignificant detail as Allie’s skirt which is too short for 1940 indicate at the certain mistakes admitted by the creators of the film in search of perfection.
At the same time, the acting, especially those of the main characters Rachel McAdams (Allie) and Ryan Gosling (Noah) who obviously started their way to stardom and this film was one of the significant steps in their way to the top Hollywood actors. On the other hand Sam Shepard and Joan Allen seem to be wasted as the parental figures of each of the young lovers.
At the same time, it is obvious that the uniqueness of the film and its difference from the original book is basically the result of the director’s style which made the story faster developing, to a certain extent more realistic and at the same time more conventional to social norms. In fact, the director attempts to become auteur and the differences of the film from the book that have been found indicate at the fact that he has managed to do it successfully.
Thus, it is possible to conclude that despite significant differences and similarities both the film and the book “The Notebook” remain unique pieces of different arts and each of them has its own advantages due to the specificity of literature and cinematography. At the same time, the film based on the book may be also treated as an attempt to reevaluate the ideas conveyed by the writer to readers and make the story closer to the audience by means of its certain simplification and it is even possible to say modification.
1. Boggs, Joe The Art of Watching Films. New York: New Publishers, 2002.
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