Nathanael West’s novel, The Day of the Locust may not have been that popular at its initial release but after it was made into a movie, it started to gain better recognition which even made it become a common source for academic writing. The adopted story was acclaimed to be one of the best films tackling Hollywood at that time. However, critics who have both read the novel and watched the film claimed that there are a lot of differences between the two presentations and that the portrayal of the novel was not actually that successful for it was not able to give enough justice to the original source.
The Day of the Locust shows the vulnerability of the American Dream in various points of view. The novel explored the different aspects of the movie industry with the use of language tools such as satire and irony. The term “locust” can be attributed to the Hollywood movie and film industry which exploits people and destroys them slowly. It presented the author’s view of Hollywood as a corruptor of dreams of the naïve, foolish and ignorant. On the other hand, the film showed Hollywood corrupting the world, caring only for its own image not minding the effect it has on the people it victimized. Here comes the first of the differences because the book was able to make a better presentation of the main idea and was successful in making the readers understand the motivations that the characters have in acting on things, while the film was vague about it and in a way took a quite different approach.
The book was able to present a more profound depiction of the characters by showing their history, thus, one will not be left asking questions as to what provoked such events or actions that the a specific character undertook. The reasons why Tod moved to California to continue painting as well as his choice of Faye Greener as a model was presented, which made his motives clear and so was Homer’s reasons in taking the same action despite the fact that he seemed to be so out of place there. Homer’s hand was also portrayed differently in the book and in the film. Moreover, Tod’s narrative point of view seems to be removed on the movie.
The book and the film also provided different degrees of importance to certain events; an example of this was the accident in Waterloo. The movie emphasized and maximized on it and points to the event as one of the main causes for the corruption of Hollywood, and thus provided much focus in presenting it. However, in the book it was not given as much significance. Portrayal of certain characters was also a bit different. To cite an example, let us take the character of Adore, he was shown in the film as an evil child but in the book, he was just a normal child just like everyone else.
Other critiques also stressed that the novel was oversimplified and misconceived in the movie. They say it (the movie) missed some important aspects that were on the book such as West’s passionate presentation of the world he was criticizing, as well as the satire and the surrealism that were some of the defining factors of the novel. It was not able to par with the amount of emotion bestowed to the novel by the author, thus it seemed weak in that aspect.
It is easy to judge the film if one has not read the novel because it is excellent as it is. However, to those who have, it becomes a different story because the novel is very elaborate and the satirical presentation that most of the readers loved about it is lacking on the film. Perhaps, it is because it would really be very challenging to make a film based on self-mockery. It is a like a film within a film because the main theme being criticized is the one presenting it. Thus, despite the differences and the flaws that critics may have seen on the adaptation, it is still commendable because generally, it succeeded in transforming the novel into a movie that is trying to tackle itself.