Book vs Movie: The 33/Deep Down Dark

Back in September I read a very interesting book that I had wanted to read since last fall. Back in 2014, my boyfriend and I went into a book store during a day trip to New Hope, PA, (quick note: my mom and I were in New Hope the day the miners were rescued and I remember eating my lunch and watching the miners come out of the mine in a tiny capsule with glasses on) and I found a book that I thought was super interesting. It was called Deep Down Dark by Héctor Tobar and it was about the 33 Chilean miners that were trapped in the San Jose Mine for 69 days (hahaha, I said 69… Oh, not the time for a sex joke? Sorry!)

Annnnnnyway… So I found this book in a teeny tiny bookstore and I really wanted to buy it, but it was about $25 dollars and I just didn’t have the money (mostly because I kept spending my paycheck on books). So I decided to pass it up, but I kept it on my list of books I wanted to read. It wasn’t until September 2015 that the paperback version came out and it was only like ten bucks. I preordered the book so it would be delivered to me the day it came out in paperback and I started reading immediately. It was such a good book.

The first probably 30 pages or so I didn’t find too interesting, it was more character development and the miners going into the mine during their regular working shift rather than being stuck in the mine. Nothing about being trapped yet. So I found it to be a little slow. But as the miners begin hearing some “weeping” sounds coming from above them high up in the mine, I started to get interested. And as the almost 800,000 ton slab of diorite collapses on the men, I was hooked. There’s nothing like reading a book that makes you so happy you stuck around to finish it. The joys of reading!

The book proceeds to explain what the miners went through: starvation, hopelessness, drinking water that was filled with oil and feces, literally having a specific spot where the men would shit every day, hearing the mountain of rock above you shift and fall as you slowly get even more entombed in the mine. It was an interesting read, to say the least, but I’ll get back to that.

Fast forward to a couple months later: I learned that they were going to be making the book into a movie when I finally finished reading the book. I was super excited but didn’t expect it to be out any time soon. Then last week I find out that it was coming out in theatres in a week. So of course I immediately texted my boyfriend with a round of I NEED TO SEE IT! LETS GO SEE IT! I WANT TO SEE IT! and here we are.

Just a few hours ago, I walked into the theatre with little expectations. I came out happy, but a little disappointed. Not because the movie was bad or because they didn’t stick to the original story, but because they glossed over certain parts of the original story.

I don’t think I have to say “spoilers” here because it’s something that actually happened, but just in case no one remembers when the Chilean miners were buried alive and rescued after 69 (ha!) days, *SPOILERS!* They get rescued.

What the movie attempts to do is turn this situation into something disheartening, but heroic. What I got out of it was similar, but not what was intended. I took the story as just that: a story. Rather than telling the audience the disgusting things they had to do, and about the physical fights the men had with each other, and the lasting PTSD, and so much more, they told the audience that the mine was not a pleasant place to be. They touched a little bit on the fights, and they touched a little bit on the grossness, but nothing in detail and nothing that would completely explain their rationale.

Now, when I think about it, I understand. A movie is a movie and no matter which way you turn it, it’s always going to be a movie. By that I mean that you’ll never be able to get inside someone’s head the way you would in a novel. You’ll never be told every single thing that happens in the book because a) a movie shows rather than tells, and b) there simply isn’t enough time.

If you think about it, a Harry Potter book is HUGE and they still couldn’t fit all of the details into it. Never once does anyone talk about Hermione’s struggle to prioritize and bring awareness to House Elf maltreatment by starting S.P.E.W. Never once did they mention in the Hunger Games movies that Katniss ran into two people fleeing their district and heading to District 13 in the woods. Why? Not because it wasn’t important, but because there isn’t enough time for everything. Sometimes you can still get your point across without showing everything you’ve read.

So yes, I understand. But what I don’t like is that they took the most human aspects of the ordeal and glossed it over. There’s nothing shiny and glamorous about survival. There’s nothing attractive about being emaciated for 30 days. There’s nothing sweet and sugar coated about drinking the water that you dump oil in, bathe in, and have feces and urine spread into. Nothing. And you know why? Because it’s survival.

For example, if someone were to tell you that they survived the Holocaust and said “yeah we starved, but other than that we learned a lot and all became good friends.” You’d be like, say what now?? So why should this be any different?

Maybe that was a drastic comparison, but it’s kind of true. Survival is not pretty, and forgiveness takes a lot for a person to do. I guess because I read the book I understand the struggles they went through to get to the point of forgiveness and of hope, but because of that I can’t really understand how the movie can go into so little detail about their troubles and helplessness.

That being said, I thought the movie was actually really good. Even though they didn’t go into too much detail, I thought they captured the essence of the situation as well as they could. I thought the director did a great job really putting into the light the different personalities of each miner and I thought the acting was really great. My boyfriend read a review that said they didn’t like the fact that they had white actors in the movie. I disagree. While I think they probably could’ve gone to Chile and said, “hey guys, wanna be in a movie?” and they would’ve gotten their non-white actors, I completely understand the desire for getting well known actors (white or hispanic) to be in a major motion picture.

Now back to the book. I thought it was great. My only complaints really were the beginning 30-40 pages and the end 30-40 pages. In the beginning it was too slow, and the end it mostly discussed their pact to only tell their story as a group, not individually (which is very commendable); but it also discussed their lasting Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, their lasting drifts with fellow mine members and the lasting money-lessness even after fame. Basically, it was just a summary of what happened and how they are now. It touched on the fact that they were hoping for a movie, but otherwise it sort of just ended.

Final thoughts:

While the movie was extremely captivating and entertaining to watch, I didn’t find it to be as accurate as i think it should have been for such a traumatizing ordeal. The book I felt was great, but maybe a little slow at times. All that said, I still believe that the book wins this one. Hands down it was more honest, more heartfelt, and more detailed than the movie ever could have been.

Book: 6, Movie: 4

I hope you guys go see the movie and read the book and tell me your opinions. I would really love to hear your thoughts on the subject. Was I too harsh? Do I need re-watch the movie from a fresh perspective? Let me know in the comments or shoot me an e-mail at rachel@booksandcleverness.com.

Happy reading, guys! Until next time,

Rachel

Advertisements

Fairy Tale Fails: Hansel and Gretel

In honor of Halloween, I’m bringing back one of my favorite types of posts: Fairy Tale Fails. The story this time? Hansel and Gretel. I figure if ever there was a story that best accompanies All Hallow’s Eve it is the one that has an actual witch in it.

Reading the Grimm’s Fairy Tale version of the classic tale, not a lot is different about the core story: two kids are idiots and try to eat a house made out of candy and a witch lures them in and tries to eat them. But there are parts of the story that I don’t remember ever reading.

In my mind, the story of Hansel and Gretel goes something like this:

One day a brother and sister were walking through the woods. They were wandering around but didn’t want to get lost so they brought a loaf of bread with them to leave crumbs on their trail so they can find their way home. Once they’re ready to turn back around they find that the crumbs are no longer there, most likely eaten by a bird. Unsure what to do, the siblings keep walking until they find a house made of gingerbread and candy. At this point they have been walking all day and are hungry (plus, candy!) so they decide to go up to the house and start picking off little pieces to eat. Hoping there is more food inside, they break into the house only to find a witch ready willing and able to lock them up and eat them. Once she prepares the oven for the kids to cook in, she lets them out and tells them to look into the oven to see if it’s hot enough. The kids somehow trick her into going over first and they lock her in the oven and leave. The end.

To this day I cannot for the life of me remember if anything happened after that point in the story. Or at least, I didn’t know until recently.

You see, I first started reading all of the original fairy tale stories several years ago. But that was always one of those stories that I honestly didn’t give a rats ass about. I never thought the story was entertaining, I thought the kids were idiots and the idea of a candy house was ludicrous – wouldn’t it melt or disintegrate??? And as for the witch, if you’re a person that genuinely wants to eat children, how did you get suckered into letting these kids run around your house with no ties or anything, and then be stupid enough to say, “you know what, maybe I should check, personally, to see if the oven is ready first. I’m sure the kids will leave me alone while I go near the place that they knew I was going to kill them in.” what??

So no, when I read the Grimm’s Fairy Tales I didn’t read the story. I skipped over the entire chapter and moved along to the next story. But as Halloween was approaching I wanted to get back into the Fairy Tale Fails swing of things and realized that it’s actually kind of the perfect story to tear apart via blog. It appeals to all the creepy things we hate: cannibalism, candy-luring creeps, kids lost in the woods, kids in general (HA! Just kidding, only some kids are creepy and I hate them). So I read the actual story. And it was weird.

The story begins with an explanation, one that I hadn’t actually thought about previously. Why were the kids wandering alone in the woods? According to the Brothers Grimm, the siblings live with their father and stepmother. When a famine strikes and everyone is starving, the stepmother (always berating the children and beating them) tells the father that she is going to take everyone on a walk in the morning and get rid of the two kids so that she and her husband can eat the extra food they’d been giving to the children. He doesn’t like this idea but she wears him down and agrees to the plan. Unbeknownst to them, Hansel has overheard their conversation and sneaks out of his room to pick up some white pebbles to leave a trail back to the house.

The next morning, the whole family goes on the excursion. The father and stepmom leave the kids, but to their surprise they’ve found their way home. Pissed that they survived and used the pebble trick against her, the stepmom talks to the father and says that the plan will work and they will do it again the next morning. In order to make sure they don’t go anywhere in the meantime to get provisions, she locks the children in their room.

On the way out the next morning Hansel grabs a slice of bread for the walk and begins leaving a trail behind. Again the parents leave the children. But when Hansel and Gretel go back to follow the bread crumbs they find that a bird has eaten them and that they are lost. This is when the story is the same:

They wander, find a gingerbread house and eat it’s roof. A witch comes out and lures them into her home with candy and the promise of comfort and sleep. She locks them away. She uses Gretel as her slave and decides to fatten up Hansel so there’s more of him to eat. When she’s finally ready to eat, she lets Hansel out and decides to kill Gretel as well. Still her slave, Gretel is told to go into the opening of the oven to see if the fire is burning well, but pretends that she doesn’t understand the command. Frustrated that the kid isn’t getting it, the witch goes to show her what she should be doing. As she leans forward, Gretel knocks her into the stove and locks it.

She and Hansel find out that theres a large pot of jewels and valuables. They take the jewels and leave. The only problem? Where are they going to go? Well, miraculously, a swan agrees to let the children ride on it’s back and swims them back to their father’s house. Going inside, they realize that the stepmom has died, and that now (with the riches they’ve acquired) they can live happily ever after as a family.

Okay. Where do I begin? Oh, right, I know: the step mom is a total dick and the dad is no better! What the fuck? I can understand the dad being lonely and getting into a relationship with a new lady. I also understand that that lady was a dick to the kids, but the dad is still lonely and maybe doesn’t care much about the kids. But what I don’t understand is how your wife can say, “I don’t want the kids anymore. I’m hungry, let’s drop them off somewhere to starve to death and we’ll live happily again.” and for the husband to say, “you know what, it’s been a tough year, I think you’re right. Let’s drop them off tomorrow.” What??

I don’t know, maybe I’m old fashioned, but I feel like the dad – the biological father – should maybe not want to give up the kids that easy? I know in the story they say that he wasn’t okay with it at first, but that begs the question, what made him change his mind? I just don’t get it.

Second, if Hansel is so smart that he knows to bring small items with him to leave a trail to get home, why is he not smart enough to know he shouldn’t eat a random house in the middle of nowhere made out of candy?

Third, and possibly most importantly, WHERE DID THIS MYSTICAL SWAN COME FROM AND HOW DOES IT KNOW THERE IS A GIANT LAKE GOING FROM THE GINGERBREAD HOUSE TO THEIR PARENTS HOUSE? AND HOW DIDN’T THE KIDS KNOW ABOUT IT? That seems like the perfect landmark to get the kids to know where they are so they don’t need stupid pebbles!

I don’t know, man. This story is just weird and gives me too many things to pick apart (and the majority of the story was the same as what I’ve grown up hearing!)  But thanks to the spirit of Halloween, I can now sleep easy knowing that I understand the original, classic tale of Hansel and Gretel and never have to read it again.

If you like Fairy Tale Fails, or if you have a story you want me to analyze or read, leave me a message in the comments to let me know or send me an e-mail at rachel@booksandcleverness.com. 

Happy Hall-ow-eeeeen! MANIACAL LAUGH, MANIACAL LAUGH…

Rachel