The story “Greasy Lake” by T.C. Boyle and the movie that was based off of the short story give off entirely different meaning. My first impression of the story was that it is in depth, meaningful, and well written. In this story, the main character and his two best friends are attempting to be ‘bad characters’ like the people they see in movies. As with most good stories that get a movie based on them, ‘Greasy Lake’ is no exception. However the first impression of the movie might be different for most viewers if they’re read the story first and that might be because it lacks in the deep meaning that the story had. Movies can’t have every little detail that the stories have because movies are mainly driven by dialogue, but even looking past that fact and focusing on just the basic details that the director could’ve included, it’s hard to let everything slide. But the whole atmosphere changed in the movie as well and in this essay I will go into more detail on why I feel that way.
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The first reason the movie lacks an atmosphere that the story possess is because it doesn’t have the feature of the footnotes to put a deeper meaning behind a reference. So the movie doesn’t use these references at all, there is no mention of the sabine women, Virgin Spring, or make any connection to the Vietnam war (Boyle). These references drove the story to have a deeper meaning and it ties in a feeling of realness. The movie just felt like a normal movie with no deep connection to real life, which is the complete opposite effect of the short story. The reason the footnotes were so important was because it tied what the characters were experiencing to history or other cultural references. Since there wasn’t any of the background references in the movie, it’s hard for viewers to connect.
Another reason why the movie lacked the same atmosphere that readers enjoyed while reading the story is that the movie was solely driven by dialogue and actions and didn’t include any of the inner thoughts of the main character. I’ve seen movies that somehow make the thoughts of the main character known either by voiceovers or through other techniques, but this short movie didn’t even try. Therefore, it is driven by dialogue, more so than in the story. The beginning of the movie is the one exception because that was a voiceover, but that doesn’t occur later on in the movie. The story is bridged by the thoughts of the main character, especially in times when he was in a moment of ‘being bad’, like the part when him and his friends almost rape the ‘fox’. There was no dialogue coaxing these actions, they just happened. For example; “We were on her like Bergman’s brothers- see no evil, hear none, speak none…” (Boyle 171) The lack of dialogue in the short story added a curious atmosphere and it made the reader want to read faster and left a thick air between action to action. If the movie could’ve included the thoughts of the main character, then it would have been a more driven storyline.
In conclusion, the movie was a rough cut version of the short story. This could’ve been from lack of funding because it was such a short movie based off a short story, the funding couldn’t have been as it is for Hollywood movies. However it’s understandable that most movies based off of stories are like that but I feel that minor changes could’ve made the movie much better and more like the story, even without major funding. The readers might have been left disappointed that the movie lacked the dark, curious atmosphere that the story had. The closest it came to doing so was by literally making the movie dark and sort of hard to see, even while watching it in a dark room to contrast it. In conclusion, I highly recommend to anyone that’s curious about the general story to read the story before watching the movie. It would be hard to appreciate the well written story by T.C. Boyle after watching the rough cut movie.
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