Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Movie vs. The Book: The Fault in Our Stars

"I believe we have a choice in this world...about how to tell sad stories. On the one hand, you can sugarcoat it. Where nothing is too messed up that it can't be fixed with a Peter Gabriel song. I like that version as much as the next girl does. It just isn't the truth. This is the truth."
After months of waiting, I saw The Fault in Our Stars movie on opening night with some friends. The theater was so crowded that they had to turn many people in line behind us away!

Hazel Grace Lancaster was played by Shailene Woodley (Divergent), Augustus Waters was played by Ansel Elgort, their friend Isaac by Nat Woolf, and Mr. and Mrs. Lancaster by Sam Trammell and Laura Dern respectively.

Above are the opening lines to the movie, and right away Hazel tells the viewer that this is not your traditional love story. My friends agreed that this was one of the best parts of the movie because it makes the story more real, and less Nicholas Sparks-esque where everything is made better with an apology in the rain and a dramatic kiss.
Here are a few small differences between the book  by John Green and the movie:
  1. Hazel's friend Kaitlyn and Gus's ex-girlfriend Caroline Mathers do not appear in the movie. Although Kaitlyn had a small role in the book, she offers a view into just how removed Hazel is from a normal teenage lifestyle. Caroline, who dies of brain cancer before the novel begins, has a pivotal role because she weighs heavily on Hazel's mind as she wonders what effect her death had on Gus.
  2. No V for Vendetta. When Hazel and Gus first meet at support group, Gus invited her to his house to watch the movie and in in the book, Hazel summarizes it by saying: "The movie was about this heroic guy in a mask who died heroically for Natalie Portman, who's pretty badass and very hot and does not have anything approaching my puffy steroid face." The plot of the movie symbolizes Gus's obsession with heroism, and his quest to live a meaningful life.
  3. The ending. Very small changes are made, but they were definitely for the better. Unfortunately I can't explain it any more than that because...SPOLIER ALERT.
My favorite part of the movie was Hazel and Augustus's dinner in Amsterdam at Oranjee.  The movie did not show the flowering trees, or have them sit by the canal, but Gus still professes his love in the best way possible ("I'm in love with you, and I'm not in the business of denying myself the pleasure of saying true things.") and my favorite lines from the novel were delivered by their Dutch-accented waiter perfectly:
"Do you know what Dom Perignon said when he invented champagne? Come quickly! I am tasting the stars!"  and a moment later he adds "We have bottled all of the stars for you this evening, my young friends."
The reason Hazel and Gus travel to Amsterdam is so that Hazel can find out from her favorite author what happens at the end of his novel, An Imperial Affliction which ends mid-sentence. It can be inferred that it ends this way because the main character, Anna, has died, but Hazel wants the author to tell her what happens to Anna's mother, the Dutch Tulip Man, and Anna's pet hamster.
Watching the movie helped me to realize that Hazel needs these answers because An Imperial Affliction is representative of her own life - she needs to know that the people closest to her will be okay, will continue to live a happy life, after she is gone.
So, you might be thinking, "Bridget, why do you love this book so much?! You've done so many blog posts about it! It's time to write about something else!" That is true. (There are a plethora of posts by the way :)).
The answer to your question comes in two parts: 1) It's romantic. While watching the movie, I  couldn't keep the giddy fangirl smile off of my face during all of the gushy parts. 2) I love this book, and John Green (my friends say that if he was a 16 year old boy, they would all swoon after him in a heartbeat) for that matter, because he somehow knows how to combine all of those smart, deeply meaningful metaphors with the hilarity and reality of being a teenager. The Fault in Our Stars somehow manages to express everything I love about writing - the symbolism, the emotion, the ability to make a reader think and feel a certain way - in a style that is captivating, yet loose. It's a sad story, but not a sad book. TFiOS celebrates life, and the beauty that can be found within it, if we choose to look.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

On My Nightstand: June

{An odd mix of classic literature and blockbuster contemporary}
Currently Reading
I am currently reading The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty. I went to the bookstore (in fact, I drove to the bookstore :)) a few weeks ago hoping to buy something in particular, but ended up coming out with something entirely different. I bought The Chaperone because of it's beautiful cover and of course because of the ever-deciding factor: the blurb on the back, which in a brief summary states:
Cora Carlisle, a traditional woman from Kansas, has volunteered to chaperone the beautiful, yet arrogant 15 year old, Louise Brooks to New York City. Louise is on her way to becoming the silent-film star of a generation, with her famous black bob with blunt bangs and lack of respect for convention. Cora has her own reasons for making the trip, but the five weeks the two spend together promise to change their lives forever. Set in the 1920s and drawing on the events of Prohibition and the movement for women's rights, The Chaperone beautifully illustrates women in this pivotal era.

Interested In
I am so excited to FINALLY go see The Fault in Our Stars movie tomorrow! I feel like I have been waiting for it forever, as after I read (and reviewed) (and read again) the book in 2012, I thought it would make a great movie. And now here it is! Just one day away! My friends and I can't wait to wear our TFiOS t-shirts, quote lines from the book along with the movie, and gush about how perfect Augustus Waters is (and of course, his metaphorically resonant cigarette).

Lately, I've been spending far too much time reading news articles about the book/movie. Here are some that I found interesting:

Video: On the TFiOS Blue Carpet - Today Show Interview
'The Fault in Our Stars' By the Numbers: Just How Huge Is This Movie Going to Be?
'Fault in Our Stars' Author John Green: Why He's 'Freaking Out' About Hollywood Success
Working On
Not even ten minutes ago, I concluded my research paper on Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse. The assignment was to write a literary criticism about a classic novel of our choice.  I discussed throughout my paper, how Woolf uses the distant Lighthouse as a symbol for the meaning of life that humans are always trying to somehow reach. Unlike other students in my English class, I enjoyed writing this paper, as it gave me a chance to analysis this book at a deeper level, and to learn new things about literature.

Here's my favorite passage from To the Lighthouse:
 "What is the meaning of life? That was all - a simple question; one that tended to close in on one with years. The great revelation had never come. The great revelation perhaps never did come. Instead there were little daily miracles, illuminations, matches struck unexpectedly in the dark..." -Lily Briscoe, page 161