Of Mice and Men – The differences between the book and the film
From the beginning of the film the audience gets the idea of the migrant worker. Lennie and George travel by fritting a train, which is the hobo way of travelling. The film also starts with the ending and then tells the weed story. Both the book and the film sustain the idea of Lennie and George being haunted therefore they are constantly on the move. The description of the bunk-house in the book is that there are no chairs, cracks on the walls and it seems more comfortable and less emphasis is made on the poor quality of the bunk-house in the book.
In the film it is easier to define the social context of the community because you get an over-all view of the ranch whereas in the book you only see a few characters at once. The film shows a threshing machine on the ranch, which is showing that the men on the ranch are forced to work at un-human rate; they are working at the pace of the machine.
In the book the macrocosm and microcosm reflect on each other. In the film pools of light are used to insolate people for example: whilst George is seeing to Lennie’s wounds and whilst Crooks is alone in his room. The idea of Crooks joining the dream has been omitted from the film. The scene with Curley’s wife and George is inserted into the film. This works because we learn more about George’s character. He has never had a girlfriend because of his job, relating to the migrant worker myth. George appears to be attracted to Curley’s wife, which opens up the story further and makes her death more tragic. There is another subtle difference in the scene where Lennie jokes about bringing the pup into the bunkhouse, this makes the viewer feel that Lennie does in fact, have some independence and he seems slightly less simple. This is not shown in the book but just a minor change can bring a new view to Lennie’s character.
Then in the final scene, (in the film) a pigeon is trapped and then flies away. This is emblematic because it is almost like Lennie is trapped and his soul flies away, the pigeon has been used as a symbolic figure. For me personally the ending was better in the film than the book. Not surprisingly the moral message is the same, this is summed up by Slim: “Everybody in the whole damn world is scared of each other.” Other simple differences between the book and the film are: the language seems to be worse in the film and the land seems to be more idyllic.
The description of Lennie and George are bought to life through the film. There is a stronger focus on the fact that people are against Lennie and George. The film shows this with the bus driver not taking the two men to the ranch, in the book this is not shown. The idea of Lennie and George being icons of American culture for example “two men bonding around the fire.” In the scenes where Lennie is violent we see his monstrous face and I felt that this made his “two-sided” character much clearer. In the film there seems to be more potential of George joining the group.
Other characters such as Curley’s wife are slightly different in the film for example, she is not blonde (as in the book) but is still flirty. She is developed more in the film, which makes the audience sympathise with her. She is not as hard in the film and seems less artificial and made up. A lot more is made of the minor characters in the film. There is also less of a racial element in the film, Crooks seems to be the butt of everyone’s humour but less is made of this is the film. Curley’s character seemed harder in the film, this is shown by simple but pointless actions for example smashing his wife’s records, this is vindictive and futile.
In both the book and the film ideas are juxtaposed for example: young and old, Lennie and the pup are young and Candy and the dog are old. Carlson portrays the utilitarianism’s point of view, which seems harsh both in the film and book. In conclusion, there are very subtle differences in the book and film. However, these subtle differences can change the meaning in places.