Friday, June 4, 2010

East of Eden (1955)

I understand that film adaptations of novels are never up to par with the novel. In fact, I assume I will be disappointed with the film. But, when one goes into the film expecting things to be "different," one shouldn't finish the film pissed off at how poorly the film portrayed the novel. In the case of 1955's East of Eden... I was pissed off.

From the start, the film skips over the first 2/3 of the novel. I understand a 600 page book needs to be skimmed. And, fine, you (Mr. Kazan) feel the story of Cal and Aron is the only significant factor in the novel. But, to rid even their background from the film? Their youth? So much emotion and connection is lost when characters are just thrown into a situation without our understanding of why. Even having read the book I couldn't quite understand the situation.

Also, the book is about good and evil. The book is very gray about the character of Cal. A lot is left to interpretation. The film leaves no room for interpretation. The playwright decided Cal is complete evil from the films start. This leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Leaves me confused by the motivation of Cal. And, his brother, Aron is almost a non-character. Hardly speaking, rarely on the screen... the end has no significance without this character.

The acting is horrid. I understand some older films weren't too concerned with acting (hell, most contemporary films aren't too concerned with acting) and East of Eden is a perfect example of over the top performances. This is close to a Saturday Night Live skit (not funny, poorly performed, etc). James Dean, who I have never seen in a film before this one, is making his film debut in this film. It shows. He pouts, stomps, mumbles, runs around the screen as if he were drunk before filming started. Is his character suffering a stroke? A learning disability? Is he Kristin Stewart?

I have no idea how the film was able to use the name East of Eden when the film only follows the story as far as character names and, maybe, 3 small plot details. Entire characters are removed. Other characters given more significance. A true massacre.


No comments:

Post a Comment