The Uproar

To “Room” it May Concern

How does the book "Room" compare to its movie version?

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To “Room” it May Concern

courtesy of Little, Brown and Company

courtesy of Little, Brown and Company

courtesy of Little, Brown and Company

Hayley Simon, Arts & Entertainment Editor

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Book or Movie? The answer to that question is one of the most popular debates of all time, sparking a battle of opinions in almost every situation. Some people prefer to see a scene play out in front of them, while some would like to fabricate their own image through their take on the plot. The book Room, by Emma Donoghue, is a qualified candidate for this argument, seeing as it was instantly a bestseller (it has now sold well over 2 million copies), and its movie version has received countless academy awards since its release in 2015. However, no matter how you answer to that prompt, there is one matter that is unquestionable: Room is a story that needed to be told.

The story of Room is written completely from the point-of-view of five-year-old Jack, who has lived in the same place his entire life. His lack of variety in living spaces is a result of the situation he has been born into– his mother has been kidnapped and has been held captive by “Old Nick” for the past seven years of her young-adult life.

While both the book and movie are shown from the perspective of Jack, in this instance I prefer the book’s account. Through Donoghue’s writing, you are given a much clearer view of the thoughts in Jack’s mind at each step along their journey. There is more description of ordinary concepts and objects that you now get to see through the eyes of a five-year-old. One of the most intriguing things about the book is the time you as the reader must take to pick apart Jack’s words and discover what he is referring to, seeing as he isn’t the most reliable narrator. That is something you lose when switching over to the movie version. It is very clear to the viewer what is happening in each scene, whether or not it be obvious to Jack.

As far as how the book’s plot compares to the movie, they are very similar in the beginning. The portion of the movie that takes place during their captivity runs completely parallel to the events and description of the book. The detail in the book paints a clear picture and the movie does a pretty spot-on job of capturing the setting.

However, once Ma and Jack are out of the room, the book and movie separate from each other, taking extremely different paths. An entire section of the book, in which Ma and Jack spend time recovering in the clinic, is missing from the movie. The idea that they are expected to go straight from their situation out into the surrounding world again isn’t at all realistic. As the book shows, they both need to spend time under supervision so their mental health can be observed. Not to mention that Jack hasn’t been exposed to all the germs the world has to offer and needs time to strengthen his immune system. It is for this reason that the portion of the book that takes place in the clinic is critical, leaving me confused as to why the scriptwriters left it out of the movie.

However, despite this key point of the book being thrown out, I have to say I enjoyed the movie very much. There’s something about seeing the scenes play out before you that brings an extra sense of emotion to your heart. I found myself in tears as I watched the story progress, despite already being aware of the ending from reading the book — and I don’t doubt that I will proceed to become a human water fountain once again should I decide to view it a second time. Or a third. Or a fourth.

The cast was absolutely incredible, and the acting skills of the then nine-year-old Jacob Tremblay, who plays Jack, will never cease to amaze me. It is absolutely incredible how much talent that little boy possesses. The casting director could not have picked a better person to encompass all that the character Jack is.

Overall, Room easily surpassed many stories on my list of favorites right away– both book and movie– which is saying a lot, considering how many books I read and how many movies I watch. I highly recommend to anyone who is looking for both a unique story and an important message all wrapped into one.

About the Writer
Hayley Simon, Arts & Entertainment Editor

Hayley Simon is a senior at North Allegheny. She has loved writing as long as she can remember and can't wait to contribute quirky, outside-the-box articles...

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To “Room” it May Concern