Very rarely does a movie made based on a book rival the book.
In fact, I can only think of two right off the top of my head that without a doubt rival the book: Where the Red Fern Grows and Gone With the Wind.
When I was about nine, I read…er…had read to me is perhaps a more accurate statement, Where the Red Fern Grows.
Being a nine year-old girl it was a little difficult for me to get into the story at first. I mean, give me a break, the story was about a pre/early teen boy who longed for a pair of hunting dogs. Yawn. (Oh, and I should probably mention my interest in dogs at that age rivaled my interest in boys/hunting in general: none.)
But then, somewhere along the way, interest sparked.
Perhaps it was the trouble Billy encountered while training his dogs or the excitement of his hunts. And don’t forget the bet Billy took against Ruben and Rainie which turned into a high (treeing the ghost coon) and an unsettling low (Ruben tripping on Billy’s axe and dying). Which could only be rivaled by the highs and lows Billy encountered at the hunting championship.
And then, came the tragic, yet bittersweet ending…
Why does the movie rival the book? Is it just because it sticks so close to the plots and subplots of the book they’re nearly interchangeable? Yes, and no. Thankfully, someone who’s read the book can watch the movie without rolling their eyes every few minutes about the inconsistencies. However, without having to read the book first, it’s very easy to pick up on the true feelings, struggles and motives of the characters–due to good acting, directing and most definitely, excellent script writing.
For most of the secondary characters in the movie (mother, father, Grandpa, to name a few) this was not their first role. However, for the actor who played Billy Coleman (Stewart Petersen) this was his first role. And while I do understand he had to possess some talent for acting or he wouldn’t have gotten the role, nor polled it off so well, it was clear the writer of the script had read and fallen in love with the book in order to write such a parallel script.
To be continued…