From Page to Screen: The Secret Life of Bees


From Page to Screen:

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For those readers that have frequented my blog before it may have appeared, quite obviously, that I love films as much as I love books. Particularly films that have been adapted from stories.

I am the opposite to most readers as I prefer to read the books after viewing the films as this way I do not go through the film thinking to myself: ‘They’ve cut that bit’ or ‘why are they talking in American accents when it’s set in Yorkshire?’ Also, I can enjoy the book more knowing that I am getting much more information out of it than the movie.

This is personal preference of course, and for those that see Books as almost holy objects when it comes to adaptions I respect your opinions on this matter.
 
This blogpost is part of a new series of blogposts that I am going to train myself to do over the next few months. I will take one Book/Film and review it, discuss it or wonder what it will be like if it has not already come out...

I hope you enjoy.
Today’s Book to Film choice is:


THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES

by Sue Monk Kidd

 
I thought I would start off with a relatively unknown adaption rather than an adaption like: ‘The Fault in our Stars’ for the purpose of bringing to light a beautifully adapted and beautifully written story.
Kidd’s writing is superb, it is atmospheric and moving as well as succinct and easy-to-read. I saw the film way before reading the book but both have stuck with me, and I will not part with my copy of ‘The Secret of Bees’ as it is so beautiful.


The Film stars:

   -   Dakota Fanning

   -   Queen Latifah

   -   Jennifer Hudson

   -    Alicia Keys

 

And many other greats actors and actresses. The story focuses on Dakota Fanning’s character Lily as she comes to terms growing up in 1964 America, that at a very young age she accidently killed her mother.
Lily Melissa Owen played by Dakota Fanning

Straight away this is shocking and gripping as you never hear of incidents like this. It is the first scene in the film and a flashback in the book – the main difference here is that Lily knows she killed her mother in the film but in the book she constantly questions it, as she was told she did it by her father T-Ray, who is cruel and abusive, so she never truly believes him.

T-Ray played by Paul Bettany

T-Ray in the film is played with menace by Paul Bettany, a wonderful British actor, but the character is a perfect version of the T-Ray in the book. A malicious man who works hard and follows society’s rules but cannot forgive his daughter, or his wife, for what happened when Lily was younger.

Lily and her former housekeeper Rosaleen run away after Rosaleen is beaten for being black and smart and Lily is berated by her father was interfering in a racial issue. Race is a main theme throughout the book as it begins with the Civil Rights act being passed and also most of the story occurs in the house of the Boatwright women: 3 strong, black women.

You do not normally find books on strong black women, particularly not three black sisters in 1960s America who own their own Honey business and run their own church. It is a fascinating concept and a wonderfully warm story. I love the characters of August, June and May. Whilst August is welcoming and kind, June is prickly but vulnerable and May, my favourite, has such precious innocence and a heart-breaking ability too feel all the pain around her greatly - she has never moved on from losing her twin sister April when she was younger.

The film encapsulates this warmth, casting talented women to play the roles with vigour and kindness.  You can tell in the featurettes on the DVD that the actors got along well and it shows throughout the movie which is a wonderful portrayal of the sisters you only see one side of in the book.

Lily and Rosaleen kind of end up on their doorstep after Lily finds ‘Tiburon’ on the back of a block of wood which has a picture of a black Virgin Mary painted onto it, an item that belonged to her mother. This block of wood is a significant part of the story and reveals much about Lily’s heritage and the 3 sisters and everything ties together well.

Overall it is a coming-of-age story, with racial issues and finding-family themes which creates a warm and caring book and film, very relaxing but still moving. The book and the film will stay with you long after you finish both of them.

So that is it for my first ‘Page to Screen’ post. Let me know what you think, what book to film adaptions you love or disliked, and please suggest any you think I should watch/read, as I said: they are my favourite kind of reading.

Happy Reading.

 

 

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2 comments

  1. Great review! I enjoyed when you pointed out "You do not normally find books on strong black women, particularly not three black sisters in 1960s America who own their own Honey business and run their own church." Something very true that I never considered after reading this. I personally kind of enjoyed the book's take on Lily's mother, letting the reader slowly get to the conclusion on their own. One of the most recent book-to-film adaptation's I read was Fight Club, which did a great job doing the same thing. Slowly letting the reader realize what was actually happening. Also loved Perks of Being a Wallflower. The music, the cast, it captured the mood of the book so well, ah! So good. Keep up the reviews, I'll be looking out for you!

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  2. Thank you so much :) It was a lovely comment. I agree, I really liked the twist of strong black women. Somebody on Google + just pointed out that 'The Help' is similar and also a favourable Book to Film adaption as well, so if you haven't seen/read that story I would recommend it. I haven't personally read or seen The Fight Club but I'll look into.

    Honestly I love 'The Perks of being a Wallflower' movie but I didn't find myself as enchanted by the book as everyone else - possibly it was a book that I should have read before seeing the film, as the film was just so good as you said for the cast, music etc.

    Thanks so much for the comment, let me know if you have any suggestions for any new posts and things. Happy Reading.

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