“Of Mice and Men” is a 1937 book by John Steinbeck. It concerns two young farm workers named George and Lennie. The first movie adaptation was filmed in 1939 with Burgess Meredith and Lon Chaney, Jr and won four Academy Awards. There have been other versions, including a version filmed in 1992 which starred Gary Sinise and John Malkovich. This version, the most recent as of March 2011, has several moments that sharply differ from the book.
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There were many events added to the movie that illustrate minor plot points in greater detail than in the book. George and Lennie escape from Weed on a train. They are actually shown sneaking onto the train in the movie. This adds more suspense to the scene. Curley has a scene where he practices boxing on a punchbag. His wife is shown looking on disinterestedly, showing her boredom with her husband in a few short seconds. Slim is approached by a worker who states that Lennie works too quickly for him, and states that he wants a new job. This shows how well Lennie is adapting to working.
Some events that were vital in the book have actually been cut out of the movie entirely. For example, the conversation between Lennie, Crooks, Candy and Curley’s wife is no longer in the movie. This scene helped deepen Lennie’s relationship with these characters. Lennie’s hallucination about Aunt Clara and the giant rabbit is removed. Taking out this scene removes some explanation of his relationship with Aunt Clara. Removing this scene also removes some deeper explanation of Lennie’s mental affliction, which runs deeper than being unintelligent or slow.
Some moments and characters present in the book were also present in the movie, but in slightly different form. For example, while George is searching for Lennie in the brush in the book, he originally cannot find Lennie at all. However, he actually finds him in the movie version. They embrace while standing in the water. This change illustrates that George does care about Lennie, although he seems reluctant to show this affection. Another minor change from the book to the movie is the type of gun George uses to shoot Lennie. In the book, Steinbeck mentions a Luger pistol. However, in the movie, the gun was changed to a colt revolver.
The biggest change from the book to the novel is the ending. Originally, George actually stays on the ranch and continues working after shooting Lennie. In the movie, he actually flees the ranch on another train. This event frames the events of the movie, something which was not done in the book. In the book, George is caught standing over Lennie’s corpse with the gun in his hand. He lies to Slim, Curley and Carlson about the shooting, stating he has done it in self defence. The men, unable to prove the truth of the events, simply walk away. These events are not shown in the movie at all. The original ending more fully illustrates George’s selfish, cruel nature.
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