Today I start reading Water for Elephants, by Sara Gruen. This book is apparently fantastic, because not only did they make a movie out of it, but it has been on the New York Times bestseller list for 116 weeks–more than two years. Incredible!
The movie was pretty great. I didn’t think Robert Pattinson would be able to pull off a Polish vet/circus man so well–in fact, I was convinced he was a terrible actor for part of the movie. But he wasn’t…he was playing his part, and he was playing it so well, you couldn’t even tell he was acting. Or at least, that’s how it seems. Of course, the fact that it’s set in Depression-era America and centers around a cast barely scraping by and making a living by doing ridiculous entertainment isn’t going to seem too real to those of us who live in comfort.
The style in which the movie is presented is stunning; each little thing that the characters do has an effect that I refer to as ‘the butterfly effect.’ I’m not sure who came up with this theory, but they claimed that in front of your face, a butterfly could flap its wings. Hundreds of miles away, the wind from the tiny wing-beat creates a tsunami that obliterates a town, a city, a state, a country. Although I don’t believe in that exact illustration, I do believe that what we do affects others, here and now as well as there and then, whenever and wherever.
For example, and going back to the movie; Jacob’s parents get in a car and leave their house. In that act, they set off a chain of events that cause so many unexpected things to happen. The ending, based solely on the beginning, is unforeseen, yet the events that lead from that beginning to that ending are completely natural and flow easily. One seemingly unimportant act determines the futures of Jacob and Marlena, the star characters.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. They’re just characters, Molly. You’re being dramatic. But isn’t that point? A good story makes you dive into the characters, want to pick at their brains, makes you want to change the story. A good book–or movie–makes you feel connected and a part of the story yourself.
This was no exception. I think there was room for improvement, yes, and I wasn’t completely in love with the characters, but I was taken in by the scenes, the characters, the layers of lies, back-stabbing, and intrigue. Beware, though…the movie does have a…scene.