Posts Tagged water for elephants

Water for elephants (cont.)

On a random outing after the gym yesterday, my friend and I trekked to the nearest theater to watch Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon in the film adaptation of Water for Elephants.  It was late on a weeknight, my eyelids were feeling a little heavy, but I still somewhat enjoyed the movie.  Of course, the eye candy that Robert Pattinson proved helpful 😉

As expected, the story lines of the novel and film weren’t parallel.  The movie at least stayed true to the major undertones and plot of the book.  Christoph Waltz is a wonderful actor and was spectacular as August, the head animal trainer of Benzini Brother’s “Most Spectacular Show on Earth”.  His intensity and missing-a-screw personality really showed through.

Several characters from the novel were omitted, and the chronicity of the film did not follow the novel.  I was disappointed that none of the nursing homes narratives in the book were translated into film.  They contained many of the more amusing aspects of the story and aided in understanding the intricacies of Jacob’s character.  Unfortunately, the ending I wasn’t so fond of was re-enacted…and it still wasn’t believable…

I’m glad Robert Pattinson did another novel-to-film rendition because Twilight was a huge disappointment to me.  Water for Elephants was not as much of a disappointment, but in my opinion the book is better nonetheless.

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Water for elephants. (Sara Gruen, 2006)

“As a young man, Jacob Jankowski was tossed by fate onto a rickety train that was home to the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth.  It was the early part of the Great Depression, and for Jacob the circus was both his salvation and a living hell.  A veterinary student just shy of a degree, he was put in charge of caring for the circus menagerie.  It was there that he met Marlena, the beautiful equestrian star married to August, the charismatic but twisted animal trainer.  And he met Rosie, an untrainable elephant who was the great gray hope for this third-rate traveling show.  The bond that grew among this unlikely trio was ultimately their only hope for survival.”

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It’s probably in poor taste to start off by saying this, but I didn’t like the ending of the book.  The story jumps between Jacob in his early years when he first joined the circus and an old, senile Jacob living in a nursing home.  Knowing the old Jacob allows us to appreciate the young Jacob more.  By the same token, knowing the young Jacob allows the reader to understand the old Jacob to a greater extent.  I like both Jacobs, but how old Jacob spends the remainder of his life seems incredulous.  At the ripe age of 90 or 93 (old Jacob can’t remember his own age), it’s hard to imagine that he would again be living as a circus worker.  It takes an hour of shuffling with a walker for old Jacob to get from the lobby of the nursing home to the entrance of the big top circus just across the street.  By the end of this shuffle, the old man’s muscles and bones are tired and shaking.  How could he possibly handle working at the circus even if it’s just at the ticket booth for a few hours each day?  How about the long grueling nights on the road with no one around to help him use the bathroom or bring him meals?  It’s even harder to believe that a circus manager would take a 9o something-year old man under his wing when the old man’s an obvious liability no matter how incredible his life story may be.  I understand that it’s fiction, but I still don’t like it.

I must give credit to the wonderful character portrayals in this novel, though.  Each character, whether human or beast, had a distinct personality.  Rosie, the elephant, was especially endearing in her mannerisms and charisma.  I’ve learned that elephants are smart either through school or the Discovery channel, but I never appreciated the fact until I read about Rosie’s stealthy antics in stealing lemonade or astonishing ability to balance on balls.  I praise Sara Gruen (author) for putting the time and effort into researching circuses, circus people, and elephants for this book.  Her hard work shows.

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