Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Scarlet Pimpernel- Movie to Book Comparison

As I have just finished reading The Scarlet Pimpernel this morning (or what will most likely be yesterday morning by the time anyone reads this), I decided to do a brief (very brief) comparison of the movie and the book. (The 1982 movie version, of course.) Though, as I liked some things from the movie better than the book, and some things from the book better than the movie, I don't know if this will turn into a true comparison, or just my giving my opinions.

What I liked about the movie, which I saw first, was that they gave some of the background of Sir Percy and Marguerite, which is only briefly covered in the book. This obviously means they made some stuff up themselves, based off of the little information given in the text, but it works.
I also preferred the movie's version of how Chauvelin discovers the identity of the Scarlet Pimpernel. To me, the meeting in the library between The Scarlet Pimpernel and Marguerite was better than the bland dinner room scene in the book. Even with the discussion that happens after she and Sir Percy arrive home, it was so much better in the movie. Her telling him, without knowing it, everything that really happened, bringing him to finally forgive her. I loved it.

What I liked about the book was, first, that I did not get annoyed as easily with Sir Percy's personality. Perhaps this is because the book is almost all about Marguerite's part of the story, and we do not always see and hear Sir Percy? But I have to say I absolutely loved the book ending! From the moment Marguerite finds out who her husband really is, onward. I think it showed Marguerite's newly found love for Sir Percy much better- the fact that she would go through all those hardships to find her husband and ensure his safety speaks volumes more than the typical sword fight at the end of the movie with practically no sign on Marguerite's side of her new, fiercer love.

The toss-ups were these:
1. I don't know which plot line I preferred- the book's rescue of the Count de Tournay, or  the movie's rescue of the dauphin.
2. The fact that Sir Percy does not say "Sink me!" anywhere in the book! I didn't know whether to feel disappointed or triumphant in that fact. :-P (Hate me, if you will, but it did start to annoy me in the movie.)

Have any of you both seen and read? What do you think?


Anonymous said...

I have seen 2 versions of the movie renditions of the book: the 1982 version with Jane Seymour and Anthony Andrews, and the BBC series.

After viewing both movies, I would say that although the BBC version "re-writes" the book, it was still fun to watch it for what it was. However, I liked the 1982 movie better for the acting, action, and settings. The annoying thing for me in the 1982 movie was the melodramatic background music, which betrays the "theatre" side of me.

As for the book, I love the writing. It's well-composed, intriguing, and is the type of book that is hard to put down when reading. I think this book, along with Pride and Prejudice, did more to springboard me into a love of reading, writing, and history (originally not my favorite studies in school).

Understandably, the movie had to be condensed into a 2-hr. time frame that portrayed the messages of the time period with the political conflicts, as well as romance, secret identities, action, and rescues of the people in distress. In meeting those goals, it does well.

I do like the movie scenes of Sir Percy's discovery of Maguerite's loyalty, her having been blackmailed,and her true conscience. In a sense, her true identity is revealed, too.

I am a sucker for a good duel with the hero overcoming the villain. I also think Ian McKellar did an excellent job in the role of Chauvelin who was continually caught off guard by the Scarlet Pimpernel. Ian's reactions added a comedic element to the movie that is priceless.

In reading the book (which I confess I need to re-read), the language, the political commentaries of the historical background of the setting, the development of characters, the intertwining plot line, the unraveling of identities, and the depth of love Sir Percy conceals from Marguerite are all elements that convey more likable elements to the story.

I haven't read or seen the play version, but I suspect that it, too, in its condensed form may bear similarities to the movie. It also may be truer in content to the novel. My final analysis: I loved both the movie and book. Both achieved their purposes and were intriguing.

(Sorry for the long post. I did shorten it, though. lol)

Anonymous said...

I think the movie was soooo much better than the book to be honest.

Lol, I love how Sir Percy was so very brilliantly stupid! (I loved when he said ‘Odds fish’ or ‘Sink me!’) Though I can understand that it may get on peoples nerves… Just so it will be on record, I love Chauvelin just cause Ian McKellar did him!
The book was okay but I really wished that it was more focused on Sir Percy (and a little more Chauvelin). It seemed to be more of a third person diary. But I have to admit it was purty sweet!

Thx for taking the time to write blogs 