Saturday, October 20, 2012

Book v. Movie: The Island of Dr. Moreau

I have decided after participating in Bloggiesta that I need to add more content other than just reviews to Eastern Sunset Reads.  So one of the new ideas is comparing a book to the movie inspired by the book.

NOTE: There will be Spoilers involved (otherwise how would I be able to compare the two?)
So for this month's Book versus Movie Discussion I picked the Island of Dr. Moreau since it is October and it is almost Halloween.  So we will start with a review of the book by HG Wells.
Synopsis: "Ranked among the classic novels of the English language and the inspiration for several unforgettable movies, this early work of H. G. Wells was greeted in 1896 by howls of protest from reviewers, who found it horrifying and blasphemous. They wanted to know more about the wondrous possibilities of science shown in his first book, The Time Machine, not its potential for misuse and terror. In The Island of Dr. Moreau a shipwrecked gentleman named Edward Prendick, stranded on a Pacific island lorded over by the notorious Dr. Moreau, confronts dark secrets, strange creatures, and a reason to run for his life.

While this riveting tale was intended to be a commentary on evolution, divine creation, and the tension between human nature and culture, modern readers familiar with genetic engineering will marvel at Wells’s prediction of the ethical issues raised by producing “smarter” human beings or bringing back extinct species. These levels of interpretation add a richness to Prendick’s adventures on Dr. Moreau’s island of lost souls without distracting from what is still a rip-roaring good read."

My Review: This has long since been one of my favorite movies and now will be one of my favorite books. It is a classic but is just as disturbing and thrilling as any new book out there. It is narrated in first person by Mr. Prendick and seems almost as if it is a letter or a journal entry. There are many different ways to interpret this book, many people take it as a warning against science and evolution. It is also a warning from playing with nature. Of all the scary and disturbing things that happen in the book, the one that I found the worst was Dr. Moreau's complete lack of caring for his creations once they had worn out their usefulness. I also find it odd that Montgomery is obviously bothered by what occurs on the Island but yet he stays and assists the Doctor. As Mr. Prendick encounters many of the creatures, you can start to sympathize with the creatures, with all the human qualities they have been given and then left on their own to survive. It really reminds me of Frankenstien's monster.
My Rating: I really loved the book! It may not appeal to all readers because it tends more to mental thriller than full heart pounding thriller. I give it a rating of Four Paws and a Stump Wag!
And now for a review of the Movie!
Synopsis (from Wikipedia): "In the year 2010, Dr. Moreau claims to have successfully conquered the impossible: to introduce human DNA into animals, eliminating their baser instincts and thereby creating a supposedly divine human, free from malice and hatred. After many attempts, only one experiment was successful and now the unsuccessful ones are given drugs every day to keep them from regressing into their animal forms. They are also controlled with electrical shock devices to keep them in order.
However, one of the creatures tears the shock device from his body and when he informs others of this, the animal hybrids break loose on the island.
One of Dr. Moreau's allies is Dr. Montgomery, a physician gone mad with devotion to Moreau and intense drug abuse.
United Nations negotiator Edward Douglas, the sole survivor of an airplane crash, is brought ashore on Moreau's island — against his better judgment — by Dr. Montgomery, and eventually becomes his prisoner. Horrified by the doctor's monstrous experiments and fearing for his own life, Douglas seeks the help of Moreau's lovely daughter, Aissa, in escaping the island, but is foiled at every turn by Dr. Montgomery and his man-beast lackeys."

My Review: Yup I still love this movie even though it completely freaks me out!  An excellent cast for this movie in my opinion, they seemed to really fit the parts.  I absolutely adore the 'children' of Dr. Moreau, Aissa, Majai and the quiet gentle boy (i think his name was M'ling).  I also find I kind of like Dr. Moreau, he seems to not know what he has done but loves his creations, though some obviously more than others.  Montgomery however I really dislike with his drug addiction and obvious envy and dislike of the Doctor and his wishes for the projects. I find it very interesting how intelligent the creatures are and how they figure things out and decide to take control of themselves.  Edward almost seems like he isn't a main character, other than the need for a survivor and narrator to deliver the tale. The costume and makeup work in this movie is fantastic, though I would love to see what they can do now that its 16 years later!

My Rating: Still love the movie and think they did a fantastic job on the storyline, making it keep the watcher's interest and the makeup and costume work is great! I give it a rating of Four Paws.


Time to compare and discuss!!

There are several glaring differences in the book by HG Wells and the movie based on the book. Honestly the movie seems to be more loosely based on the book than I expected.  First off, minor difference but I picked it up immediately, Edward's last name has been changed from Prendick to Douglas - probably to suit the time period change.  Yup that is the next difference that one would notice. The book is set to take place in the late 1800s while the movie takes place in 2010.  From there the movie starts to veer off the book drastically. 

Dr. Moreau is a lot more involved in what happens to his creations after the fact in the movie, it makes you a lot more sympathetic to him. While in the book he completely disregards them after they start to regress.  Movie Dr. Moreau attempts to stop the regression with injections and continues to keep control of them with a shock method and being seen as "Father" a god like figure to be respected.  Where as in the book Montgomery take on the role of staying involved and having a soft spot for the creations after their use is worn out. Dr. Moreau, also keeps his best/most successful creations in the house with him in the Movie, caring for them and guiding them as a father actually would.

Dr. Moreau's research also seems to differ from the movie to the book. In the book it seems he is try to create a stronger, quicker human out of the animals.  While in the movie he seems to be trying to suppress the worst of human tendencies and nature with the addition of animal characteristics (it actually kind of reminds me of Divergent/Insurgent books that I recently read. Trying to remove the worst of human nature, but it again doesn't work). I think that also helps with the viewers to connect with the movie, having his research not seem quite as disturbing.

In the book Leopard man & Hyena man only play minor roles in bringing about the revolt of the creations. However in the movie they take a much larger role, especially Hyena man.  He is highly intelligent and discovers how they have been controlled.  He leads a revolt in his desire to return to a more animal nature, but as he has more and more success in his revolt he begins to desire Dr. Moreau's original power over everyone. I find the creatures much scarier in the movie than in the book. While in the book they are struggling to maintain their humanity for the most part, in the movie they attempt to regain their animalness (new word lol) but still retain the worst parts of the human nature.

All in all though the end result is very much the same.  Edward manages to survive and escape the island to bring the story back, but is haunted by the similarities of human nature to animal instincts the creatures displayed. It is still a warning against using science to play god and mess with nature.

So have any of you read the book? Seen the movie? Which did you prefer? What is your opinion of the message of the book or movie?

No comments:

Post a Comment