Linh Nguyen
Linh Nguyen asked:

is this book better than its movie or just the same ???? is there anything different between the book and movie???

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Keely There are a lot of differences. Both are to be savored and both are beautiful works of art. The movie is much more romantic and scenic. It takes the story out into the open and does more with the political situation in China at the time and the cholera epidemic. The book is more introspective and profound. I would say that the biggest difference is that the book does not give you the great romantic reconciliation between Walter and Kitty that the movie depicted. The book is almost completely about the workings of Kitty's mind and her transformation in the way she sees Walter. I found that to be priceless and I wanted it to keep reading it forever. The depth of characterization is as remarkable as what Henry James did with Portrait of a Lady -- I almost felt that Maugham used Portrait as a model in the way that some of the most wonderful and moving passages of this book are nothing more than an examination of Kitty's thought processes. I agree with Carol below that the book is a must read. Still, the movie is one of the most under-valued Hollywood movies ever made and should have been up for Oscars galore. It increased the scope of the book in a very effective way and went into a great deal of detail about Walter's work on the typhoid epidemic and water crisis in that area of China. It can be difficult to translate onto screen what goes on inside of the characters' minds, especially when that is the focus of the book, but I think what the movie did by bringing in the details of what Walter was trying to do in his work was a smart substitute, because it provided justification for the great change in Kitty's attitude toward Walter - you could actually see it happening, and why. . . . Another big difference in the book is that Kitty isn't completely redeemed when she returns to Tching-yen after Walter's death, and there are new encounters with Charlie and also his wife which almost give the impression that they were complicit in his love affairs.
Codi In my opinion, the movie is made to the general public while the book provides deep introspection. Depends on your cup of tea but I definitely recommend reading the book.
Violaine Paquel I gobbled up the book in a couple of hour and wish the movie could have lasted forever, such is the charm of these works for me. The movie is beautifully shot and acted, has wonderful art direction, set design and costumes, it brings forward aspects that aren't prominent or aren’t at all in the book. I enjoyed the density it gave to the Walter character and the examination of mariage as a social structure. The book focuses entirely on the Kitty character, which is a different but equally satisfying experience. The movie might thus feel more « complete » but reading the book you’ll be more « intimate », albeit with just one character. All in all, both are immensely enjoyable IMHO.
Steven-John Tait Linh, It's better. The film adapts it to suit convention. Read the book and let me know what you think.
Ekaterina K The book and the movie are very different. The book is a unrelenting character study, a coming-of-age story, while the film is a crowd-pleasign sentimental love story which borrows some ideas from the book, mainly the premise of a critical situation helping estranged people come together. While the film is watchable and has some fine acting from Edward Norton and Naomi Watts, it does not have the depth and the many dimensions of the book.
Liana As for me, the movie is done very primitively as if the director didn't understand the book. I think the book is more centered around Kitty, not around Kitty and Walter.
Bernard Just for the record, this book has been filmed more than once.

One version with Greta Garbo was made in 1934.

Adulterers usually get their comeuppance in movies, but Maugham's books and characters are never that simple.
Van Nguyen personally, i liked the film ending a lot more and the cinematic aspect really helps enhances that aspect of the emotions - but I found that the book's narrative was written beautifully and took a more introspective journey, focused in Kittie's reality. The ending to me, was a bit disappointing in the book.

I also agree that the film was tailored to a more contemporary taste (2006) while the book was more melancholic and harsh ending it very uncertain when.
Jesus Clavo The movie gave a Hollywood feel-good ending. Kitty with her young son met Charles in London and she did not take up again with him. In the book, Kitty left for London after Walter's death but not before having another tryst with Charles. before leaving Hongkong. Her mother died and his father is leaving for another position abroad in the Caribbean. Kitty asked her father to allow her to join him and take care of him. . There are so many memorable dialogues between Walter and Kitty in the book as well as of Maugham saying what was going on in Kitty's mind.
"She alone had been blind to his merit. Why? Because he loved her and she did not love him. What was it in the human heart that made you despise a man because he love you?"
"Why do you despised yourself? She asked, hardly knowing that she spoke, as though she were continuing without a break the earlier conversation.
He put down the book and observed her reflectively. He seemed to gather his thoughts from a remote distance.
"Because I loved you."
"I think you do me an injustice," she said. It's not fair to blame me because I was silly and frivolous and vulgar. I was brought up like that. Is it fair to blame me because you ascribed to me qualities I hadn't got? I never tried to deceive you by pretending I was anything I wasn't."
"I don't blame you."
It was true enough he would not forgive her because he could not forgive himself.
Kevin Tole I found the film a trite rendition (resurrected from the grave by beautiful cinematography and two stunning performances from the leads). Hollywood couldn't POSSIBLY have the male lead and thoughts so sidelined as the book is so focussed on Kitty's thoughts and attitudes of one who is for the greater part so shallow and naive. All in all I found the film a real bowdlerisation of the ideas that Maugham took forward in the book. The whole slant of the two works is ENTIRELY different - the book on Kitty ; the film on Walter. Yes some of the dialogue is the same but my pervading feeling when watching the film was 'How could they do that knowingly!!!!!'.
Jane IMHO, ignore the film versions. The novel is more genuine and has far more depth.
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