The Yearling, a novel which broke new grounds in movie making, sweeping away the boundaries between an adventure film and a drama, turned to be one of the pearls of the American movie art.
As millions of people saw the characters of the famous and gripping novel in flesh and blood, the story became ever more popular. However, it is obvious that the book and the movie suggest slightly diffelent vision of the story. Though bound with the same plot, they offer different palettes of feelings, which is quite a peculiar subject to discuss. Tracking the common details of the book and the movie, it is important to mark that the film scriptwriter did not make great changes to the plot. Surprisingly, this made the film not a pathetic imitation of a novel, but a movie that can stand on its own. Unlike most of the films based on books, The Yearling is enjoyable both as a novel and a film, incredibly exciting and moving.
Another feature which can be traced in both the original story and the movie is that each is filled with intense emotions. As soon as the reader or the spectator starts on a journey into the backwoods of Florida, where Jody lives a careless life of a little boy faces his first great grief, (s)he becomes an integral part of the story as well. Seeing the world with the eyes of Jody, the spectator understands that the movie sucks him/her in, inviting to take the lead part in the movie – or, rather, become Judy for the next couple of hours. This is what actually happens to the reader of the book, as the plot of the story unwinds. The third and the most important common feature of the novel and the film is that both convey the specific atmosphere of the American South, with its peculiar speech and with its spirit, filled with pride and hospitality. With help of the brilliant cast, each dialogue in the book was brought into the movie, turning it into a piece of the Southern America carved out of the Florida landscape and planted into the movie. However, there are a plenty of differences between the movie and the book as well.
It takes only a couple of glances to see all these peculiarities which make the film a piece of its own. Among the most evident differences is the relationship between Jodi and his father. In the novel, it is only the very end of the story when Ezra “Penny” Baxter grows closer to his sin, whereas in the movie the bond growing between Jody and his father is more explicit. In addition, the movie offers another interpretation of Penny’s character. Posed as a cool-blooded and, with Jody’s vision of the situation, almost cruel, in the movie she is depicted as a person who is guided by the clearest and the most logical reasons. Ordering Jody to go to the woods and kill the deer, Penny is not being violent, but merely trying to avoid another problem or nuisance, the movie argues. The last, but not the least comes the evident difference in the way the book and the movie end.
It seems that in the novel the passing from reality into dream is much quicker and sharper than in the movie. Though the film ending leaves the air of sadness as well, it does not have the anguish and pain which the final lines of the book are shot through. However, it must be still admitted that the movie is a brilliant piece and a real masterpiece. With the talent of the actors and the touching plot, it became the world classic.
Depicting the difficulty of choice, it will remain the symbol of friendship, loyalty and the pain of turning into an adult.