Water for Elephants Water for Elephants discussion

Movie version???

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Kathleen Ansley I just finished watching the movie and am not quite sure what to think of it. I read the book first and really enjoyed it. Maybe because it was so fresh in my mind how the story was written that's why I can't really decide if I liked the hollywood version. I really enjoyed the older Jacob and his fiesty personalty and wished they would have put more of that in the movie. I thought he was a riot and hope I will have his spunk at his age.

I was just left feeling, hmmm. So I was wondering what everyone else thought. Someone convince me that I just missed the wow factor.

message 2: by Pam (new) - rated it 5 stars

Pam Ciha There are so many details left out of the movie: the build up of the lust & longing, the patheticness of the life on the circus train, and the torture to the animals. The book was far better but I did like the fact that the movie started from the end of the book and left out all of the scences from the nursing home that were in the book.

Melanie I haven't seen the movie yet but my mum and I were comparing the two (Ive read the book, she's seen the movie) and we both realise it has been changed quite a lot.

Kathleen Ansley I liked that part two how the movie began and they did leave a lot out. I don't want to spoil it for you Melanie but it just seemed like they re-wrote the story but kept the major story line.

Melanie Kathleen I will be watching it and will wiht an open mind.

Pam my favourite parts were the old Jacob in the home. Might be because my mum is a nurse in a aged care facility so everything they said about Jacob I could relate to and had a giggle at e.g. the old lady grabbing his hand thinking Jacob was her husband. Mum tells me that happenes at her centre so it made it seem so real for me.

Motunrayo I must admit that this was one of the few bookbased movie that I really liked.
Sure, a lot was changed, but the actors and the whole stages made up for that.

Melanie I watched it yesterday and really enjoyed it. I thought the acting was great and although it did change from the book it was still easy to follow and understand.

Christine I think if I hadn't read the book and absolutely loved it, I would have liked the movie better. I loved the choice of actors and the film itself was beautiful, but it just doesn't hold a candle to such an amazing novel! It was not a bad movie by any means, but there was just so much MORE to the book. I missed a lot of the older Jacob and a lot of the friendship between Jacob and Walter.

message 9: by Tanya (new) - added it

Tanya I had a lot of trouble with this book not because it was not good, but because of the way the animals were treated. I just watched the movie last night and almost turned it off when he went after Rosie. What did not translate to me in book that really hit home in the movie was the inhumane treatment of people as well as animals no one was safe.

Ashley Usually, I am not a fan of movies from books that I have read because it is nothing like what my mind paints a picture of. This one I liked! The story line was there, just with a few minor details left out. The biggest thing that I noticed was Uncle Al wasn't even in the movie. They combined his and August's characters, but it worked. One of my favorite scenes from the movie was near the end after they retired from the circus and had all their kids running around their little farm. It was such a good story!!

Bridget I thought the movie was boring. The book was so much better. And I cant put my finger on it but I liked the book so much better.

Kathleen Ansley The actors were good, I guess if I would have waited to watch the movie until the book was not so fresh in my mind I would have enjoyed it better.

Ashley - that was one thing I did enjoy about the movie, the way their lives were depicted after they left the circus.

Gretchen I read the book in March and finally just got to see it now in January. On a whole it was a fun flick but movies never capture what the imagination can. My favorite part that they took out thought that I really think they should have left alone is how the Circus workers claim Jacob as family, his grandfather I think, when they come looking for a missing nursing home patient. That part in the book was so beautiful that here these people appreciated him. Isn't that so true how often we neglect and don't appreciate what our family has to give us and how often other people see that gift and greatness in them? Anyway that is my one bone to pick the rest I understand is adaptation but that part they could have saved.

message 14: by Gina (new) - rated it 1 star

Gina the guy who was August was casted very well I thought, and he added alot of character to the movie by being the ringmaster not just the head of animals

Brandy I must admit the reason I read the book was because I am a Rob Pattinson fan and I wanted to read the book before I watched the movie. The book was completely different than most things I read but I absolutely loved it. I actually listened to an audio version and I think the narrators made it even better. I was a little disappointed in the movie, but then again, I am always disappointed in a movie if I read the book first. There is just no way to pack in all the wonderful details that enthralls us so much in to a 120 minutes or so. Overall, I was pleased with both!

Cynthia The book was hands down better than the movie. I read the book first and I LOVED it. Don't get me wrong, I LIKED the movie, but it doesn't compare to the book. There are so many little details that weren't in the movie. Those little details make the story.

Michael The book was much better but I thought the movie was okay. It was`nt as great as the book, but I did love the story, but I hated the beginning of the movie.

message 18: by [deleted user] (new)

Kathleen wrote: "I liked that part two how the movie began and they did leave a lot out. I don't want to spoil it for you Melanie but it just seemed like they re-wrote the story but kept the major story line."

I agree. Also, at first I was a little weary with Robert Pattinson playing Jacob. HE's acting was mediocre in Twilight and for his character in Water For Elephants, he needed to improve A LOT!! I think he did pull it off though. I was impressed with the improvements in his acting and was satisfied with his portrayal of Jacob. Reece Witherspoon was perfect for Marlena. Her already quirky and petite self fit the role perfectly.
I liked the movie, but like most books-to-movies, the book is almost always better. :D

Kathleen Ansley Kelsey wrote: "Kathleen wrote: "I liked that part two how the movie began and they did leave a lot out. I don't want to spoil it for you Melanie but it just seemed like they re-wrote the story but kept the major ..."

Know exactly what you mean about his acting! I was waiting to see his freaky brood look and thrn he would start explaining to Marlena how they couldn't be together because he was dangerous. (Jimmy Kimmel totally ruined Twilight for awhile for me). But he actually was pretty decent and like you said Reese Witherspoon was perfect in the role.

Christina Normally do not watch the movie if I read the book because the movie is usually a let-down...lots of parts are left out & the story is re-written or the movie does not match how I visualized the story when I was reading it. I really like Reese Witherspoon so decided to watch the movie and I enjoyed it. Am so glad that they didn't get too graphic in the mistreatment of the animals, it really made me sad when I was reading the book

message 21: by Nina (new) - rated it 4 stars

Nina I read the book, "The Girl With the Pearl Earing," but can't remember it well. I watched the movie last night and didn't understand the ending ...does anyone know if she went to live with the old creepy man who purchased her portrait after being banished from the Vermeer home. I am curious.

Melanie I thought Reese was the perfect cast for Marlena too.

message 23: by JMP (new) - rated it 5 stars

JMP The WFE movie was a good surprise. I missed it in the theater
but watched it on PPV as soon as it came out and thought it
was as good as the book ...

message 24: by Nina (new) - rated it 4 stars

Nina I liked both the movie and the book. If you hadn't read the book first and just saw the movie, wouldn't you think it was a good movie?

message 25: by JMP (new) - rated it 5 stars

JMP Nina wrote: "I liked both the movie and the book. If you hadn't read the book first and just saw the movie, wouldn't you think it was a good movie?"


Kathleen Ansley Nina, yes I would have. I think without comparing it to the book it was a really good movie, they sort of re-edited the book and took out some of the parts that I enjoyed. I think if they would have followed the book a little more it would have been better.

message 27: by Nina (new) - rated it 4 stars

Nina I totally agree with you. It could have been a better movie if they hadn't tampered as usual.

Joyce I thought it was a good movie. I really liked the book best--but I always like the books better than the movies because you get so much more description in the books. But if I hadn't read the book, would have still liked the movie.

Nicole I enjoyed the movie probably as much as the book. Well, I enjoy the process of reading a book more than the process of watching a movie, but that's sort of beside the point.

The book had some holes for me. The story had the potential to be phenomenalal and it fell short. Gruen could have given up a little of the "circus life description" to actually write why Jacob and Marlena fell in love. Suddenly, Jacob was announcing his love with little to no reason why. So, he saw her performing on horses. That's not enough of an explanation to me.

The movie was enjoyable. It didn't vary from the book THAT much (though it certainly did some). Robert Pattinson was sufficient in the role. It was nice to see him in a different type of movie.

I really liked the book. I hope this post doesn't seem like I'm knocking it that much. It just could have been so much more.

Renee I never appreicate movies that have been made into books. My imagination is just better that what Hollywood can do.

Bobby I rarely like a movie after reading the book....esp. when the book is exceptional. This book was a real treat and I actually liked the movie as well. I thought Christoph Waltz was tremendous but I kept seeing him as Col. Landa in "Inglorious Basterds".

Andrew Herren I watched the movie a week after finishing the book. They were so different! I loved the book and liked the movie. Reese was good in the movie, but I had pictured Marlena a dark and exotic looking. I don't see how Jacob could have played any better than Robert Pattison played him...he was perfect. I was mainly disappointed with the lack of emphasis on Kinko and Camel. They were a major part of the book (to me) but a much smaller presence in the movie. I will say that my wife and daughter watched the movie with no prior knowledge of the book and they loved it...must be a good movie!

Andrew Herren JMP wrote: "The WFE movie was a good surprise. I missed it in the theater
but watched it on PPV as soon as it came out and thought it
was as good as the book ..."

Nina wrote: "I liked both the movie and the book. If you hadn't read the book first and just saw the movie, wouldn't you think it was a good movie?"

My wife and daughter loved it and they had read the book...yet!

message 34: by Catherine (last edited Mar 09, 2012 08:57AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Catherine I would say that overall I enjoyed the book. The character development is engaging, and I had difficulty putting it down. Each character has good and bad qualities, with most having both sympathetic and terrible moments. It's balanced and interesting. My biggest complaint is that I think we weren’t shown how Jacob and Marlena fell in love but instead simply told it happened. In the end, I prefer the film over the book for a number of reasons.

I found print-version-Jacob too emotionally immature and vulnerable. This Jacob seems more like a teenager to me, more naive and sheltered than an adult about to finish undergraduate school. I think this is done to illustrate the emotional and experiential difference between Jacob and Marlena even though they are within a year or two of each other in age. I think casting Robert Pattinson as Jacob removed much of the emotional immaturity from the character while leaving this sense of wonder at all the new experiences Jacob is having. As a balance to that, I think it worked well to age up Marlena by casting Reese Witherspoon thereby maintaining Marlena’s more jaded and worldly aura. Both characters are stronger as a result of these changes, and I feel their relationship ends up being more equal in the film.

In the book Jacob is the main instigator of the affair while Marlena is just sort of there right up until August hits her and she runs off. This is a result of being told, not shown, that the characters had fallen in love. In the film, you see Malena's and August’s emotional journey as well as Jacob's. All three of them play a role in how Marlena and August's marriage unravels. Marlena and August had as much to do with the affair as Jacob, and I like the portrayal of equal responsibility. Christoph Waltz brings a depth to the August character that I felt was missing in the book. Waltz allows the audience to experience August’s charisma, brutality, and unpredictability while still seeing how pathetic he is. As much as I liked Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon as the principles, without Waltz the film would have lacked the necessary emotional tension to keep the plot compelling. The tent scene toward the end of Act II has the potential to perfectly illustrates all the extremes of August’s character, but it’s Waltz’ performance that evokes the emotional response necessary in the audience to root for Jacob and Marlena to finally fight for their love.

The original poster of this thread mentioned they were sad to see much of Older-Jacob’s story cut out and/or condensed in the movie version. I enjoyed these parts of the book as well, but in terms of script development and flow, I think it would have made the film feel choppy and the characters thin. I know this device was used effectively in "The Notebook", but that film was a smaller story with fewer characters (I’ve also never read the book, so I don’t know what they left out in order to make room for the back and forth time frames). In the case of “Water for Elephants”, I think it worked to stay in 1931 after arriving. There was barely enough time to establish the characters and relationships, so I think the flash-forward scenes would have resulted in less illustration of the emotional journey of the characters. With script writing, there's only so much room and you have to make choices.

My biggest issue with the film is that Act III is nearly non-existent. There was so much effort spent on the build-up that by the time Jacob and Marlena run off at the end of Act II, the movie is out of time. This is not to criticize screenwriter Richard LaGravenese who did the best he could with the raw material. Using the plot points from the end of the book would only muddy the storyline in the film because they don’t necessarily move the story forward, so short of rewriting the plot, I think LaGravenese salvaged the end by adding in the home movies. Another Act III save was Hal Holbrook’s deeply moving performance as he reflected on Jacob and Marlena’s life together. These were the most compelling scenes in the film because here we are shown instead of told of Jacob and Marlena’s love.

Rachel Walden I have not yet seen the movie, but I was so moved by the 90/93-year old Jacob's memories and life in the nursing home, that I'm bummed to hear that much of this is not included in the movie. That's a missed opportunity, in my view, and further proof that film is not about story or people but about dollars. Too bad.

Kimberly Hicks I can answer this very simply. The BOOK was a 100 times better than the movie! I was so disappointed with the fact that the movie was completely out of sequence--it was based solely on the love Jacob had for Marlena, and it didn't show that the book was so much more than just his love for her! I wanted to see Jacob in the nursing home. I wanted to see more of the relationship of the animals, I wanted to get into the reason how the book got its title, and it wasn't just about Rosie the elephant, in fact, it wasn't about her at all.

The movie was so disappointing and such a travesty to a well-written beautiful love story of not just two people, but the love for the animals and the circus as a whole. Sara took great detail in outlining the essence of the circus and all its workings, and that movie was just plain crap! The whole time I watched, I kept telling my hubby, that's not why that happened or that's not why this took place. I just kept correcting everything wrong with the film.

If I were the author of this great story, I would have been downright pissed at what Hollywood did to my book. Just crap! I never watch the movie before reading the book. The AUTHORS get it right the first time, why can't Hollywood figure that out! Who the hell asked them to mess with perfection!

Sara sold millions of books on her own merit with her words, so there wasn't any reason Hollywood had to just "pick and choose" what the heck they felt WE needed to see. Read the book everyone, never watch the movie first!

Nichole The book is better, nearly, 99% of the time compared to its movie. There are usually several reasons the movie ends up sucking: the actors, the directing, budgets, and time length is a common reason. For instance, think of Twilight and the HP films, they shove huge stories into a 120 minute time frame b/c of time restraints in the film industry, and this caused the movies to be worse than the books. I felt the same with this movie. What was happening over several months (in the book), seemed to be happening in a week, in the movie. Which can confusing, and already affect your interest because you're seeing that everything is occurring just TOO fast. What happened to all those small scenes where you see the characters becoming attracted to each other? Omitted. And those are some of the best parts of stories!

Bobby In interviews with Sara Gruen she says she was "blown away" by how good the movie was. Moving things out of sequence and fitting into 2 hours is necessary in Hollywood but she still thought it was "amazing". I liked the book more as well, but thoroughly enjoyed the movie too. People who had just the movie to use as a reference overwhelmingly gave thumbs up.

Janet Jones I too enjoyed both but thought that some of the characters' back stories were missing in the film. I went with my husband who did not read the book and he still enjoyed the film and did not feel that he missed anything vital. Looks like it met with approval from both reading and viewing audiences.

message 40: by Anna (new) - rated it 5 stars

Anna I enjoyed both the film and the movie. Both have its ups and downs.

message 41: by Lori (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lori I like both the movie and the book. I finally read the book last summer. and rented the movie. I wished they showed more of Jacob as the older version. there was more of him in the nursing home in the book. i liked getting to see the elephant Rosie in the movie. it was also nice that the dog who played Queenie was the same dog who was in THE ARTIST {Uggie the dog}the cast was pretty good in the movie.

Melanie I started the book and saw the movie. I enjoyed both.

Kimberlee I liked the movie but loved the book, the book you could really feel the emothions in the pages that I could not really pickup in the movie, even though I really enjoyed the movie.

message 44: by Alese (new) - added it

Alese I thought the book and movie were pretty similiar. The only thing I didn't like about it was that, Robert's character in "Twilight" as he does in the movie... except without the vamp makeup.

message 45: by Kate (new) - rated it 3 stars

Kate the movie was too short. the book is way better.

Kathleen The book was one of the best books I have ever read, the movie was different then the book, but I liked the movie. The book was much better then movie, but isn't that way it always is when they make books into movies. However I was not disappointed in the movie.

Claudia Marcela Well, when I saw the movie, I expected more spectacularity, with the Marlena's show or with the others. Even the personality of August wasn't too brutal like in the book. Despite that, I liked the movie.

Connie Sandlin Book was sooooooooo much better than the movie. The book was so rich in regard to the pathos of Jacob's struggle with aging and his longing for connection. I found the movie very disappointing.

message 49: by Katy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Katy I absolutely adored this book! I loved the characters and plot and the overall vibe and style the story gave off. I truly felt like I was living on a circus train in the 1930's.

The movie was very disappointing in providing me with a connection to the characters and a connection between the characters. And I know they have to change things around but way too many important details were left out such as Al. I did like Robert P surprisingly but that was about it.

OH! and who loved the prologue and the way it was twisted to make you think something different than what actually happened?? Brilliant!!

Sharon The film really ruined the brilliance of the book for me. It left out main characters and sub-plots which I think really added to the story, but this had been mostly my experience anyway when a book ive read is made into a film. Movie is fine on its own if your looking for something to watch but dont expect it to be like the book. I was on holiday in Jersey when I was reading this book, and despite the beauty of my surroundings and the hive of activity going on around me I found I had to make time everyday to read this book, I loved it!!!!

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