Novel vs. Film: Jaws

The film has more bite.

The anti-summer beach read of all time, Peter Benchley’s Jaws was a surprise hit when it arrived in bookstores in the middle of winter in 1974. The seminal shark tale spent over 40 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list and sold well over 5 million copies in its first year. But that was nothing compared to the much larger fish that was on its way to terrorize the psyche of unsuspecting movie- and beachgoers everywhere. Steven Spielberg’s Jaws was released on June 20, 1975, swallowing millions at the box office and ushering in the age of the summer blockbuster. It made over $470 million worldwide on a mere $7 million budget and became the highest grossing movie ever at that time. People may have been afraid to go in the water, but theaters were packed and sales of the book more than doubled. Jaws became a cultural phenomenon and helped launch the career of one of the greatest directors of all time. Continue reading →

Novel Film Review: The Great Gatsby

Gatsby posterjacket

A Novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald
A Film by Baz Luhrmann 

The star of this fanciful and mostly faithful adaptation of The Great Gatsby is the book itself. When we first see the battered billboard of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg standing watch among the ash-heaps—a pair of glasses framing unblinking eyes, a familiar blue-cast background, and the carnival lights of the city below—it evokes the now iconic cover of the 1925 novel. This is by design. Publisher Charles Scribner’s Sons famously commissioned the jacket art—the floating, spectral image of Daisy Buchanan peering out from above the night sky of Coney Island—well before the manuscript was completed, and Fitzgerald liked it so much he wrote it into his novel. The Queens-based optometrist towers over the landscape and the story, just as the book towers over the film.

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