Book vs. Film: On Chesil Beach

Book. Because –

  • there was no Hollywood ending.
  • you take the characters exactly as they are presented on the page (in the movie, there are visual hints about a back-story that potentially alters Florence’s motives).
  • you know how McEwan only writes one story, with himself as the main character? That’s compromised in the movie.

Book here. Film here.

21 responses

    • The character of Edward is much more aggressive in the movie than I recall in the book. Combined with the back story that’s implied for Florence, it very much changes the motives of the characters. That said, it’s an entertaining movie.

    • Same – movie was very good (and excruciating in the right parts!) but if I was forced to choose, the book would win (I think it’s the perfect read-in-an-afternoon kind of book).

      • Of course the book would win! But I thought the film did a good job, and didn’t really find the ending too Hollywood. I agree with your comment re Edward’s presentation in the film. I wasn’t sure whether it was just my memory, or they had indeed portrayed him as being more responsible for their failure to resolve their relationship. It’s so long since I read the book.

  1. It’s been a few years since I read On Chesil Beach. Maybe I should refresh and read it again before seeing the movie. I remember Edward as being very non-aggressive. Looking forward to the movie.

    • I didn’t get time to do a re-read before the movie (I had planned to…) but glad I didn’t. I think the differences might have irritated me! It is a lovely movie and I’m sure you’ll enjoy it if you liked the book.

    • I’ll look forward to your thoughts on the movie. I thought the internal stuff was handled well but inevitably, they had to build up other characters to tell the story – once you add that layer, there’s more that’s open to interpretation and that’s why I preferred the book to the film (but it’s a terrific film nonetheless!).

    • From memory Bill, the jury’s out on McEwan for you?? Chesil Beach is one of my favourite McEwans (actually, probably second only to Atonement) – it’s a short book and makes for a perfect afternoon’s reading.

      Summer 1993 is on my list of movies to see – the challenge is getting to it before it disappears from cinemas (which is what usually happens!).

    • I’m always on the side of ‘book first then movie’ but it doesn’t always work out that way! If you happen to see the movie first, give it some time before you read the book – the differences may be irritating – but it is a great book and a great movie.

    • It’s not always appropriate to compare – sometimes I like different things about each but I ask myself the question “If someone wanted the story told in the best way, what way would that be?”

      I find that stories that feature landscape often make better movies (eg Out of Africa) but only if they get all the other bits right!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.