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Peter Jackson’s 2009 film, The Lovely Bones, is based off of the New York Times bestseller novel written by Alice Sebold. Both the book and the movie adaptation tell the story of a young, 14-year-old girl named Susie Salmon who is brutally murdered by her neighbor.
In both versions, Susie narrates her story from the place between Heaven and Earth, the “in-between,” showing the lives of her family and friends and how each of their lives have changed since her murder.However, the film adaptation and the original novel differ in the sense of the main character focalization throughout, the graphic explanatory to visual extent, and the relationship between the mother and father. Throughout Jackson’s film adaptation, the primary character focus is on Susie herself. Following her through the morning, before her murder, at school, to her first meeting with Ray Singh, and eventually her adventures and meetings of new friends in the “in-between,” the focus is never left off of Susie for too long. In Sebold’s novel, the focus is mainly on Susie’s family members and their lives as Susie watches.
Each member of Susie’s family is thoroughly explored in the novel, while in the film the lives of each family member are not focused on whatsoever. Susie’s sister, Lindsey, is explained in the novel graduating high school, moving out and meeting Samuel Heckler, and eventually marrying and having a child with him (Novel). The movie, on the hand, only shows brief moments with Lindsey, never showing her graduate or going into the extent of the relationship with her later husband (Movie). In the novel, Buckley, Susie’s younger brother, is shown growing up and being able to physically see and hear Susie while she is in the “in-between” (Novel).In the movie, Buckley is only featured in a few scenes, never changing in any physical ways as to show aging.
Also in the movie, Buckley is never shown actually communicating with Susie, while in the novel they had many interactions (Movie). The graphic explanation extent of the horror or provocative scenes of the novel were dramatically much more vulgar and intense than showed in the movie. In the novel, the murder and rape of Susie Salmon is intensively described, “…cut into pieces… blood soaked into the soft, wet earth…” leaving no question in the reader’s mind as to what was happening or might ave happened (Novel, Chapters 2-3).
While in the movie version of the book, the murder and rape scene is not showed at all, only having to be assumed by showing Mr. Harvey, the murderer, bathing with his entire bathroom covered in blood. Also, the movie doesn’t mention rape at all, only that Susie was murdered, while the book is specific in saying that she was first raped, and then murdered (Movie). Towards the end of the movie, Susie enters the body of Ruth Connors, Ray’s best girl friend and a “medium” to the spirit world, while her and Ray are visiting the sink hole in their neighborhood, and kisses Ray (Movie).In the novel, Susie actually has sex with Ray when she enters the body of Ruth, with all details being explained explicitly.
The relationship between Susie’s mother and father throughout the film adaptation of the novel was complicated, but not as complicated as the actual novel. In the novel, after Susie’s death, the fighting between the mother, Abigail, and the father, Jack, becomes excessive and repetitive eventually leading to Abigail having an affair with the detective of her daughter’s murder case.She eventually leaves her home and family and moves to work in a Californian winery (Novel).
In the movie, the fighting is only showed in one brief scene and Abigail never has an affair with the detective or anyone else for that matter. Instead, she is said to have left because her husband, Jack, wouldn’t “let go” of Susie, or “let go” of trying to figure out her killer, and she couldn’t cope anymore, leaving to work on a California plantation (Movie).Also in the novel, it is said that it takes Susie’s mother eight years to return home, and that she only returns when she hears of Jack having a heart attack (Novel). In the movie, however, no specific amount of time is mentioned as to how long Susie’s mother was gone for, and her reason for returning is for how much she missed her family and husband, while in the novel she doesn’t realize how much she has missed them until after she has already returned home (Movie).
The Lovely Bones novel by Alice Sebold and the film directed by Peter Jackson both tell the story of a young girl who is brutally murdered at the age of fourteen. And although the film adaptation and the original novel differ in the sense of the main character focalization throughout, the graphic explanatory to visual extent, and the relationship between the mother and father, they both tell the tragic story of young girl, and her affected family.