After studying both the book and film of Cry, the Beloved Country I have noticed several obvious comparisons and differences between them.
The book is set in South Africa in 1946. It is based around a vicar, Reverend Stephen Kumalo who lives in Ndotsheni. Kumalo receives a letter from Johannesburg explaining that his sister is sick. So, Kumalo travels to Johannesburg and looks after his sister and searches for his son. His son has been through a distraught time and eventually is hung for murder.
When the Reverend Stephen Kumalo arrives in Johannesburg he is extremely confused and ends up getting robbed. I think that the film did interpret this scene very well as the camera angles, music and the confusion in the background suited the scene as Kumalo stood out which, I think was what Alan Paton wanted as he did interpret that picture through his book.
Mr James Jarvis – the father of Arthur Jarvis (the man who got murdered) – receives the news about the murder of his son; I thought was interpreted from the book to the film quite well. This is because in the film the background and actions of the police man (who delivers the news) and Mr Jarvis has remained the same as in the book. I thought that the way that Jarvis carried this news on to his family and daughter in law remained in the same style as Alan Paton.
During the court case when Absalom Kumalo, Johannes Pafuri and Matthew Kumalo have been charged with the murder of Arthur Jarvis I thought that the shortness of the questioning between Absalom’s lawyer and the Judge remained the same in the book. I also noticed that in the background the way that Stephen Kumalo looked across to John Kumalo. These comparisons have done the book justice.
Shortly after Kumalo’s arrival in Johannesburg he meets Gertrude and she is living and working as a prostitute. I can not recall as much detail in the book during this scene. There are several reasons towards this: Firstly, I thought that there was a lot of swearing between Gertrude’s landlord and other people and secondly I thought that the area that she was working in was not described in the amount that Paton described it.
After Kumalo had brought Gertrude back to the Mission House, Msimangu and Kumalo went to a public meeting held by Stephen Kumalo’s brother, John Kumalo. I thought that this did do the book justice as the camera angles and the atmosphere in the room looked realistic and it suited Paton’s style. I also thought that when everybody stood up and sang the national anthem that, that did the book justice as it tied everything to do with the book in.
Something that may not have been directly obvious was the way that the film producers tied all three parts of the book into one.
I thought that this did the book justice as it would not be all unconnected as it felt as it all just flowed into one book.
When Msimangu and Kumalo were on the search for Absalom they went to several people’s houses and the reformatory. In the film they only visited Mrs Mkize, the reformatory, the girl that Absalom got pregnant and the nurse. I felt that this was enough but it did not tie in with the book as they left out Mrs Nollea and Mrs Hlatshwayo out. However, in the book they did not give that much information so it did not make much difference but the time taken was quite noticeable.
After the court case and after Absalom Kumalo had been sentenced to be hung, in the book it describes Stephen Kumalo going to John Kumalo’s shop and they fall out and John Kumalo tells Stephen to get out. This scene was not in the film and I do not think that it made much difference because this tension of anger from Stephen Kumalo was shown in the looks and actions he did in the court towards John Kumalo.
Finally, I think that the scene at the end when Kumalo walks the mountain was very well put together and I did the book justice a lot as after Kumalo meets Jarvis walking up the mountain, he sits down at the top and prays. During his prayer you can seeAbsalom being taken up to be hung and when Kumalo bows his head down Absalom is hung and the floorboards fall through. I felt that this scene was very well put together as the camera angles and all of the scenes overlapping did do the book justice as it fits in very well and covers all of the main points at the end and is tied together to form the end.
The comparisons and differences that I have commented on do relate to both the book and the film in some sort of way, they are connected. I thought that the last difference that I made, the scene at the end did the book the most justice as it included everything to form the end and all of the camera angles and music made a big impact and I thought was one point in the film that could be called a climax as it is extremely tensional and very important.
Overall, I think that film has done the book justice.