NEWS OF THE WORLD: Book vs Movie

Hi guys! I am alive and well. I haven’t posted here in a little while for a few reasons: I was traveling for work last week, had a fun COVID scare (negative), and was then deep in the vortex of college applications. Also, I have been a little stalled on the book front. I have a print book, an audiobook and a blow dry book going, and while I am enjoying each of them, none of them is in the I-can’t-do-anything-except-read-this-book category. I made the bold move today of switching the audio and the print books, so now I am listening to what I was formerly reading, and vice versa. I don’t know what prompted me to do that, but I can already see it making a difference. So hopefully I will be past this little slump soon. Sadly, I am seeing my 70 book reading goal for 2021 slipping away – I am just too far behind to recover in the next two months, especially with more travel, holidays, and college applications looming on the horizon before 2021 closes out.

One thing I DID manage to do was watch the movie version of News of the World, the book I read for the book vs movie pairing of the 2021 Everyday I Write The Book Reading Challenge. The movie version stars Tom Hanks as Captain Kidd, the older man who goes around Texas reading from the newspaper to audiences in the years following the Civil War, and who is entrusted with a 10 year-old girl who needs to be transported back to relatives after being rescued from the Indian tribe who captured her four years earlier. Helena Zengel plays Johanna, the girl who at first seems feral, but later grows to trust Captain Kidd and learns to communicate with him and the white community she was once part of.

The adaptation of News Of The World is pretty faithful to the book. There are some plot differences between the two – he has grown daughters in the book that are never mentioned in the movie, and the circumstances surrounding his distance from his wife are different in the movie. There is also a freed slave – the man who entrusts Johanna to Kidd – who is alive at the start of the book but is found hanging from a tree when the movie opens. This seemed gratuitous to me. I enjoyed a short but satisfying epilogue in the book that is missing entirely from the movie as well.

The movie, on the other hand, has the benefit of sweeping cinematography and arresting visual scenes of North Texas and the physical ardor of the unlikely pair’s journey. The movie version of News Of The World is scarier, as violent crowds and a gunfight in the mountains are much more menacing when they play out in front of your eyes instead of in your head. Kidd and Johanna go from one danger to the next, and the movie hardly takes a break to let them breathe a sigh of relief. Meanwhile, the book allows the relationship between the two to evolve more slowly, which is ultimately more convincing. I got a better sense in the book of how Kidd becomes so fond and protective of Johanna. There are also some funny moments in the book, mostly courtesy of Kidd’s sly humor, that are completely lost in the movie script. The movie of News Of The World is essentially joyless, which is not how I felt about the book. The acting is very good (I mean, it’s Tom Hanks), but it’s not a movie you’d want to watch again.

Advantage: Book

Ok, hopefully I’ll rebound from my week+ of not reading and get some reviews up soon.