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October Sky

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The director, Joe Johnston, greatly modified the plot of October Sky from the original story line of Homer Hickam` s autobiographical novel. He changed the actions, thoughts, dialogs, and backgrounds of all Sonny` s relatives, such as his father, his mother, and even himself.


Sonny `s character is altered in the way that he is not affected by certain situations the same. When Sputnik soared over the skies of McDowell country as the whole town of Coalwood watched from their backyards, Sonny was moved and impacted forever. In the movie however, this was acted out as just another scene in the movie. The book better explains this scene and tells how this incident ultimately inspires him to coalesce with his friends to start the BCMA and go on to work at NASA. We get better details and insight into his feelings when Mr. Bykowski dies in the terrible mine accident and as he watches his mangled body being pulled from deep within the earth, limp as a doll.


His father is a totally different person when comparing the movie and book. In Homer` s version, he` s passionate about Sonny becoming a mining engineer. He cares hardly for Sonny` s interests. He is a stern man, hated by many family members of ex mine workers. His relationship with his wife Elsie is stressed. The movie does very little to emphasize this. When a bullet is fired into the home of the Hickams, it is not explained that Pooky and his drunken entourage were the culprits.


Little is said about Elsie at all in the movie. Joe Johnston shows her only as an everyday mother and wife, but in the original story, she` s much more than that. She does a lot to help the interest that Sonny has in rocketry. She lends them equipment and keeps Sonny` s father out of the way when things go wrong, such as the time when the BCMA was testing it` s first rocket in the backyard at sonny` s house. The set it up in the garden and set it off. The result was more like a bomb than a rocket. Sonny` s father was very angry and within a day the whole town knew about it. Elsie persuaded him to keep going and pursue his interest even further. She cares a lot for her family, especially her two sons and will do everything in her power to keep them from ending up stuck in the little town.


The plot in Joe Johnston` s motion picture varies from that of the novel to extreme levels. The characters are not as deep and dynamic; therefore you don't get as good a look at the little things that make the story what it is. You can still figure out the big picture, but it's the funny interesting little stories that really make October Sky the great story it is.





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friscokid said...
Mar. 13, 2011 at 1:45 am
A great review with lots of depth. I enjoyed the insights into how the book and movie differed and why you thought it differed. The author says the differences were understood by him, but I think many reader would have valued greater character depth.
 
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