Someone Is Missing – Shutter Island Book and Movie Comparison

After my recent comparison between the book and film adaptation of Jaws, I thought I would do one for Shutter Island having recently just finished the book. Much like the first article, I will warn you now that this post my contain *SPOILERS* if you haven’t already seen or read Shutter Island.

Shutter Island is 2003 novel by Dennis Lehane that focusses on US Marshal Teddy Daniels as he visits Shutter Island to investigate the disappearance of a patient that has escaped from the mental institution that is housed on the island.

shutter island book

Things don’t sit right with Teddy as he and his partner, Chuck, begin their investigation into the grounds and he feels that the staff and other patients are keeping information from them. Not only that, Teddy has his own personal mission, in which he is trying to find a certain patient who he believes killed his wife in a fire. As the novel progresses, the reader is given more information into what Teddy believes is going on on the island, including experiments on the patients using psychotropic drugs and lobotomies.

Teddy’s partner Chuck goes along with his theories for the majority of the novel and tries to support him in any way, as much a good partner would, but he ends up disappearing. This only adds to Teddy’s already mounting paranoia about the island and when he starts to question the whereabouts of ChuckTeddy is told that he arrived on island alone and never had a partner with him.

Whilst the novel starts out as a traditional crime thriller about the missing patient, Rachel Solando, it manages to swiftly change into one where the world of the main protagonist is turned completely on its head. It soon becomes apparent that not all is well in the world of Teddy Daniels and towards the end of the book, a monumental bombshell is dropped where we learn that he is in fact a patient on the island. The most dangerous one that any of the staff has ever come across, and the mystery patient that he is searching for, Andrew Laeddis, is actually a character he has created to hide the fact that he has actually killed his own wife. Lehane manages to handle this tonal shift and revelation with great ease and it comes as not only a surprise to the reader but also to Daniels as well.

Due to the popularity of the novel, it comes as no surprise to see there was a movie adaptation of it.

shutter island poster

The film was released in 2010 and the screenplay was adapted by Laeta Kalogridis with direction coming from Martin Scorsese, at the time, it turned out to be the most successful opening weekend for a film Scorsese had ever made. The film starred Leonardo DiCaprio is the role of Teddy Daniels with Mark Ruffalo playing the role of his partner, along with Ben Kingsley, Max Von Syndow and Ted Levine in other roles.

I was impressed with the film the first time I watched it, but I have to admit I did not know it was adapted from a novel when I first experienced it. However, after reading the novel, my enjoyment of the film has actually gone down. I re-watched the film after finishing the book so I could prepare for this article and I have to say it wasn’t as enjoyable this time around.

There felt like there was something missing from this adaptation. The film really does try to build up the same level of tension, paranoia and intrigue as the book; but to me personally, it just misses the mark. This is one time, that I can safely say that novel is certainly better than the book. I am not trying to take anything away from the film and I would still rate it highly if I had not come across a copy of the book, but after the reading the source material I think I will be sticking with that from now on. The pacing of the film somehow doesn’t live up to what is put across in the book, it somehow seems to drag along compared to the novel. Maybe it was because I had just read the novel and then moved straight onto the film that I felt like this, but surely if a film is that good it would not have mattered if I had just read the book beforehand?

Some may disagree with me on my views on the adaptation, but this is just my own personal opinion. I am not going to say don’t watch the adaptation, because I thoroughly enjoyed Shutter Island the few times I watched it before I read the novel. I just feel that I got more enjoyment from the book.


I Think We’re Gunna Need A Bigger Boat – Jaws Book and Movie Comparison

First off, I would just like to point out that this article does contain *SPOILERS*, although they are mainly for the book, because if you haven’t seen the movie of Jaws by this point, I really don’t know what you have been doing with your life!

Jaws movie poster

It is safe to say that a vast majority of people know about the movie Jaws, whether it is the infamous theme tune, the quote “I think we’re gunna need a bigger boat” or the fact that Kevin Smith named his main characters in Chasing Amy after the three main characters from this franchise; it has become so popular since its release in 1975 that it has become a cultural cinematic icon over the years. Some may not realise though that the film is actually based on a novel that was released the year before, and having just recently finished reading the novel myself I thought it would be a good idea to compare the two.

I don’t think I need to go into too much detail with the plot, as most people already know the story; but for those few that don’t have a clue at what I’m talking about, I will sum it up briefly. The story follows a small American town on the edge of the ocean called Amity on the run up to labour day weekend. Things seem to be going as planned, as they normally do and the local residents are waiting for the arrival of summer tourists so that they can survive the quiet winter. However, things take a drastic turn for the worse, when the local waters become home to a great white shark. The local chief of police Martin Brody is then tasked with killing the shark so that it doesn’t kill again. The plot may seem simple, but both the novel and the book are a brilliant thrill ride that keep you gripped from the start.

Jaws novel cover

I understand there is always a problem with reading a book when you have already seen the movie adaptation, because you have seen someone else idea of how the book should have transferred to the screen and sometimes it is better to just keep your ideas in your head about how something should have been shot. I have to say that throughout reading the novel, as soon as a character was mentioned I instantly had a picture of the actor in my head from the 1975 film version. The adaptation did quite a good job with casting suitable actors for the role, and they didn’t seem too far removed from the source material.

The trouble with adapting a novel though, is that not everything can be taken over to the film. In the film, the mayor doesn’t want the beaches closed over the holiday, because he feels it would have a detrimental effect on the town and the commerce of the area and this is also shown in the book. However, there is a deeper subplot in which the mayor is also in debt to a member of the mob, and as a local estate agent, he has bought up a vast majority of the surrounding land so that he can sell it back to people when the market picks up and then be clear of his debt to the mafia. He is much more selfish character in the novel, although you do feel sorry for him as the original reason he borrowed money from the mafia was to help fund an operation for his wife. It was very cleverly played out in the book, and really goes to show how far some are willing to go to try and save their own skin. He didn’t mind putting the lives of many people who chose to go swimming in the sea at risk, as long as he was able to sort out his own financial problems.

Another interesting subplot in the novel, that wasn’t covered in the film is one concerning Matt Hooper, played by Richard Dreyfuss in the film. In the novel, it turns out that he is younger brother of a man Ellen Brody, the wife of the chief of police, used to date. When he comes back to Amity and ends up meeting Ellen once again, she takes it upon herself to have a relationship with this man, behind her husbands back. She feels, at times, that he has taken away from the life she used to live, where she only summered in Amity instead of having to live there all the time; and the connection with Hooper makes her long for her past. As the novel progresses, Brody becomes more and more suspicious of the two and tries to find out, much to his annoyance and disgust, whether something has actually gone on between the pair.

One of the biggest changes between the novel and the film is the ending. Unlike the film, things don’t go as well in the book. Firstly, Hooper dies whilst trying to photograph the shark in shark cage. The beast attacks him and then comes out of the water to gloat at Quint and Brody with the body still hanging out of his mouth. Secondly, although Quint still dies, he isn’t eaten by the shark. They are in process of trying to capture the fish and his leg becomes tangled up on the rope of one of barrels and he gets pulled down the shark as he cannot get himself free and thirdly, in my opinion, the ending is quite vague. In comparison to the film, the shark isn’t actually seen to die. Whilst in the film, we get to see Brody and Hooper blow the shark up with a gas tank, in the novel, after it has been stuck several times with the harpoon and barrels, it is just left to sink into the sea with Quint attached to it. For all intents and purposes the animal could still be alive. There is no definitive proof that the shark is completely dead.

After reading the novel, I am glad that I am now able to see what the source material was actually like and can look between the film and book and see how they differ. I personally thoroughly enjoyed the book and it hasn’t tarnished my enjoyment of the film in any way and I certainly think I will be reading the book again the future.

Chuck Palahniuk Gives More Information On Fight Club 2

Foto von Chuck Palahniuk

In recent interview with Hustler magazine, Chuck Palahniuk finally gave readers some more information about the sequel that they have been dying to know about, Fight Club 2.

In regards to the first book, Palahniuk had this to say, and shows how the sequel and his own personal life tie in together;

“So much of ‘Fight Club’ was a rant against fathers. At the time every man I knew was complaining about how little he’d learned from his father. Even my own father felt bitter and let down by his father. Rather than continue in that vein, I wanted to revisit the protagonist once he himself had become a father. Not coincidentally, my parents are both dead now, and I think that will force my story and I accept more responsibility.”

He finally gives us some more information on the actual plot of the novel;

“The sequel will be told from the– at first– submerged perspective of Tyler Durden as he observes the day-to-day tedium of the narrator’s life.  Because 20th Century-Fox created the convention of calling the protagonist Jack, I’m calling him Cornelius.  He’s living a compromised life with a failing marriage, unsure about his passion for his wife.  The typical midlife bullshit.  Likewise, Marla is unsatisfied and dreams of accessing the wild man she’d once fallen in love with.  She tampers with the small pharmacy of drugs that her husband needs to suppress Tyler, and– go figure– Tyler reemerges to terrorize their lives.”

Fans of the original novel will be in for a shock though, as this time around the sequel will be in graphic novel form.

“My only worry is about presenting it in the form a graphic novel. The medium shapes the messages, and I’ll be relearning how to tell stories.”

Fight Club 2 is set to be released to 2015

Ron Burgandy’s Memoir Extract

Whilst he isn’t being a world class news anchor or playing the flute, it seems that Ron Burgandy has found the time to right his life’s memoirs. The New Yorker recently managed to get hold of an extract from the upcoming book, called Let Me Off at the Top! My Life and Other Classy Musings and below is the extract in all its Burgandy glory.

My father, Claude Burgundy, was a natural born News Anchor, as was his father and his father before him. Of course there was no television or radio station in Haggleworth, Iowa. Instead, every Friday night he would set up a desk in the Tight Manhole, an Irish bar where the mine workers drank and sang songs of misery. The oil company paid him to report on all the charitable and civic-minded projects they had in the works as well as hard-hitting news stories happening in Haggleworth. Because of his honest face and gifted speaking voice, men and women would come in from all the other bars in Haggleworth—the Dirty Chute, the Mine Shaft, the Rear End, the Suspect Opening, the Black Orifice, the Poop Chute, too many to list here—all to listen to The Shell Oil Burgundy Hour. In Haggleworth it was the most popular show on Fridays at ten P.M. for years. It consistently beat out Dragnet and Ernie Kovacs in the local ratings. He would report high school sports scores, weddings, divorces, births, who was diddling who, but mostly good news about the oil company and their interests. I would come and watch from the front row and be transfixed by his smooth delivery and sharp tailoring.

One day, the fire that continued to burn under Haggleworth leaped over into tunnel 8, the most profitable tunnel in the whole coal operation. Unlike the fire that occasionally shot up from the earth and burned cars or dogs, this fire was getting in the way of profit and had to be contained. Men were sent down into the shaft to try and stop the fire, but it was no use. Eleven men died. The whole town was in a somber mood when my father got up to deliver the news. “Good evening, I’m Claude Burgundy and this is how I see it.” (That’s how he started every Burgundy Hour.) The bar was quieter than usual as they hung on every word. “Today, the Shell Oil Company of Iowa announced a new plan to bring multicolored blinking lights to downtown Haggleworth for the upcoming holiday season.” On a day when eleven miners had burned to death, and husbands and fathers of people sitting in that bar had died, the Christmas-light story was the lead. A woman in the back shouted something at my father. Another man called him a coward. He just sat there, taking insult after insult as he bravely continued on with a story about a precocious little dog that wore a hat around town that everyone loved. He reported a story about a planned two-hole golf course. There was an in-depth interview with a woman who had won second place at the state fair for her lemon bars. It was great news and slowly people began to smile. When he got to his sign-off (“And that’s what happened this week in Haggleworth”) they were sad to see him go and could hardly wait for the next week’s news.

In a candid moment as we were walking home that night I asked my old man why he didn’t talk about the eleven men who had died or the culpability of the oil company or the environmental impact of this new deadly fire or the emotional damage many deaths could have on a small community like ours or even the plain fact that without tunnel 8 most of the town would be out of work. “Ron, sometimes people don’t want the truth. They just want the news.” I’ll never forget these sage words from my father. Up until that point I made no distinction between “truth” and “news.” I had thought they were one and the same! I was a boy of course and the world was just a kaleidoscope of butterscotch candies and rum cookies. I didn’t understand the reason for news until that day.

I knew from a very early age that I would be a News Anchorman. I had great hair, for one, which is 70 percent of the job. I also had the pipes. I was blessed with my father’s golden tones and melodious speaking voice. By the time I left Our Lady Queen of Chewbacca High I could read a document out loud from forty feet away without ever stumbling over a word. A photograph from shortly after my graduation shows me looking much the same way I do now. In fact at age eighteen I looked exactly as I do today. Women found me irresistible. They still do find me irresistible. It’s worth mentioning but not so important to the narrative at this moment. I mention stuff like that not for vanity’s sake but because it simply needs to be said.

It was all lining up perfectly. Every year the National News Association of Anchormen, NNAA, sends out over a thousand representatives to find fresh new anchorman talent across the land. Prospects are invited to a brutal six-day camp to test their mettle through grueling challenges and photo shoots. It’s a make-or-break week for young anchormen. An anchorman scout traveling through Haggleworth noticed me in the eighth grade but was not allowed to talk to me until I graduated. (After it was discovered that Edward R. Murrow was paid illegally by CBS as a four-year-old without his parents’ consent, new guidelines were put into place to protect children from getting money.) By the time I graduated several scouts were interested in me. I was invited to Williamsport, Pennsylvania, to the anchorman camp—the “Gauntlet,” as it’s known in news circles. The field that year was tough—my class alone had News Hall of Famers Peter Jennings, Ted Koppel and Jim Lehrer. Vance Bucksnot, who became the number one anchor for the Quad Cities, was there, as was Punch Wilcox, the legendary anchor for Salt Lake City’s KPAL. There was also Snack Reynolds (Austin), Brunt Harrisly (Columbus), Tink Stewart (Butte), Race Bannon (Minneapolis), Hit Johnson (Albany), Kick Fronby (Charlotte), Ass Perkins (Mobile) and Lunk Brickman (Boston). All of these men distinguished themselves with long careers for their respective stations, so yeah, it was very competitive.

The main goal of the Gauntlet was to test if you had the avocados for anchorman work. Could you hold your liquor? Could you tell the difference between bespoke and off-the-rack suits? Could you seduce women through a camera lens? Test after test of skills. Could you turn your head sideways to other news team members when speaking? Could you manufacture a laugh after reading a lighthearted story? Could you muster a knowing, disapproving head shake after a story of sadness? On and on for two, sometimes two and a half hours a day! If it were not for the fun diversions to be had in Williamsport I would have gone crazy! But fortunately Williamsport, Pennsylvania, is one of the wildest places I know. The key parties alone—and this is way before they had caught on around the rest of the country—were almost too decadent. I’m just going to assume that most people who live in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, to this day moved there to engage in terrifyingly adventurous sexual activity. I mean, how else could you account for the reckless bacchanalia that happened in that town every night? As a small-town boy in a big city for the first time I was warned of some of the dangers, but no one prepared me for what went on in that town. Maybe it’s because it’s not on the main east-west highway, Interstate 80, or maybe because the town is sufficiently surrounded by vegetation, lending itself to an isolationist mentality. Whatever has caused the town to feel cut off from the rest of civilization has also ensured its disconnect from the laws of man. It is a town of pleasure-seeking animals only gratified by buttery foods and genital friction. It’s a wonderful place to be for a week and provides great relief from stress, but if you lived there, as was borne out by the people I met, you were little more than a skin-wrapped blob of insatiable carnal urges. Many people in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, walk around town with their mouths open, their pants down and their dicks flopping around.

At the end of the week I had distinguished myself enough at the Gauntlet to receive six promising offers for News Anchor. I leapt at Tucson. In a real show of Burgundy independence I stole the family car and never looked back. Good-bye Haggleworth, Iowa, hello Tucson. The drive east was delicious. I drank up the scenery like a man freed from prison. Two straight days I drove until I overheard two truckers outside of Washington, DC, say that Tucson was in the West. I should have looked at a map but in those days they didn’t have maps, so off I went to the West. I felt like a young Horatio Alger traveling west to make my fortune. A few days later I was in the middle of Florida and getting kind of frustrated. I sometimes wonder how long-haul truck drivers even do it. How do they get from one destination to the next without getting lost? The stars? Anyway, once I got straightened out of Florida I was on my way. I went through Alabama, then Mississippi, then Arkansas, then Missouri and back through Iowa, up through Minnesota into Canada and then back into North Dakota and South Dakota and over into Wyoming, down through Colorado and Utah and Nevada and up through Idaho and back into Wyoming and Montana and into Idaho and Washington, down through Oregon to California and over to Arizona and over to New Mexico, where I had one of those “hey, wait a minute” moments where I thought maybe I had gone right through Arizona, so I turned around. When I landed in Tucson I hadn’t slept in three weeks, and I hadn’t shaved or showered. My suit smelled like eggs and butt and was stiff from all the sweat and dirt I’d built up on the road. Big problem: I was due on the air in five minutes! It was my first time on camera … and I knocked it out of the park. The station got hundreds of calls claiming a caveman had just reported the news. I got a chuckle out of that one. I worked for that station for about half a year until I found out it was in Albuquerque and not Tucson, and then off I went again until, about a month later (it’s like twenty thousand miles from Albuquerque to Tucson if you take the direct route through Maine), I finally arrived at my first real job as the nightly News Anchor for WKXM Tucson.

Let Me Off at the Top is out November 19th and can be ordered here