The Natural (Movie vs. Book) SPOILERS

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Doug Miller, Jul 27, 2003.

  1. Doug Miller

    Doug Miller Supporting Actor

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    Doug Miller
    Wow, after years of watching the Natural (between video/tv/dvd) I finally decided to track down a copy of the book, and let me tell ya', what a downer.

    I guess going into the book I really expected it to carry the same character and inspiration that the movie had, but Roy Hobbs in the book was completely different -- I'll be honest, he was pretty unlikeable. Between his countless desperate hours of wanting nothing more than to hammer Memo, to his endless appetite, to his one night stand with Iris, I found myself almost rooting against this turkey. And when in the end

    he strikes out instead of hitting the game winner
    I thought to myself "serves him right."

    Has anyone else here read the book? Like it, dislike it? I was listening to local sports radio late last year, and the host kept ranting about how the book was so much better than the movie (I even got the impression he died
    , and was surprised when he didn't). I can't disagree more. I won't go into all of the other differences, but the book wasn't the Natural you love watching at home.

    Anyone here read the book before the movie came out? What did you think when you saw the movie?

    Hmph.
    Doug
     
  2. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    Bernard Malamud wrote his novel as literature. That was his first concern. Neat movie endings were not on his agenda.
     
  3. Carlos Mendoza

    Carlos Mendoza Stunt Coordinator

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    Years ago, I heard a news report about how lazy students in English classes were renting the movie instead of reading the book, and as a result failing the test. The news report mentioned that the ending in the book was totally different, so curiosity got the better of me, and I bought the book.

    I felt the same way as you. In fact, now whenever a thread pops up comparing books to the film adaptations, I'm sure to post a warning to fans of The Natural movie to NOT read the book.

    One of the rare cases where the book ending is not better than the movie ending.

    Read Contact and Andromeda Strain for examples where the book ending is far superior, IMHO, than the movie ending.
     
  4. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    But Malamud was writing about the willingness to compromise one's standards when confronted with temptation. He was persuing a literary end and had nothing cinematic in mind in the early '50s. He wasn't writing a "feel-good" novel. And The Natural is not a "bestseller"-type of entertainment; its purpose is literary, to be literature. (I was appalled by the film adapation at first. But it's a decent entertainment in its own way.) I can't see not recommending a fine work of literature simply because its downbeat ending is at odds with a movie based on it that was released 31 years later strictly as entertainment.
     
  5. Mick Wright

    Mick Wright Second Unit

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    I used to think Roy Hobbs in the book was very unsympathetic (i.e dumb) until I realized he was inspired by Shoeless Joe Jackson (and others I'm sure, but mostly Joe). I liked some things better in the book, like the scout dying after being struck by Roy's last pitch to The Whammer. It always bothered me in the film that the scout just lost contact with him. I don't think Malamud ever anticipated The Natural being turned into a film though, or else he would have changed the "Casey at bat" ending. Of course changing that would negate the point of the story and lessen the impact of how far Roy had fallen. I keep both the book and film in my collection because I feel each works well in their medium.
     
  6. Ben Osborne

    Ben Osborne Second Unit

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    I thought that the Natural was mostly inspired by Eddie Waitkus. He was shot by an obsessed fan in a hotel room, spent some time recovering, and then made a glorious comeback.

    ESPN has a pretty good article about the movie vs. history.
     

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