Of Mice and Men Movie
This film version of Of Mice and Men ( 1992 ) is adapted by the great playwright and screenwriter Horton Foote and directed by Gary Sinise. It stars John Malkovich as Lennie, and Gary Sinise as George, and it's one of my favourite films.
Picture the scene: a TV flickering in a darkened London high school library and a group of kids. Most of them are boys, most of them disaffected with behaviour issues, rough and undisciplined, seemingly without a care for me, or each other. They are impatiently waiting to watch a film.
I was their schoolteacher and my task was to get them through their GCSE English exam, and although they were interesting and I loved them dearly, they were not an easy bunch to teach!
Today I was asking them to sit in silence for an hour and a half to watch the movie Of Mice and Men! While they ‘settled’ I secretly braced myself for chaos. My kids knew the story from start to end, as we had read the novel over many weeks in class, so there would be no surprises for them, nothing that would keep them guessing, and I doubted that this film would hold their interest for longer than a few minutes.
I was so wrong because this film stunned us all!
We had no idea that we would be so moved. I cried and so did my ‘tough’ boys. The acting and directing were superb.
Characters like George and Lennie, Curley and Curley's Wife, and Slim, and their tangible loneliness and desperation touched my kids deeply.
They watched it carefully and in silence even though it was not an easy film for a group like this to watch. For example, it moves at a slow pace and many scenes are dark, adding to the sense of desperation and solitude, and these scenes are suddenly and starkly contrasted with others that are so sunny and bright that they hurt your eyes. It is a film with very little action. It is painful, extremely sad with no happy ending.
My kids were glued to the screen. They watched in silence, totally engrossed. So was I.
Do you think this version is better than the 1939 version?
This touching scene shows George telling Lennie about their dream. A dream that comes to such a brutal end.
Good analysis and comprehensive review of characters, author and general themes. Helpful for exam revision.
Set during the Great Depression, this wonderful tale deals with epic themes such as justice, sexism, racism, prejudice, friendship, and the American Dream. Even though it was a contemporary story of its time, so much of this film connected with my kids because its universal themes affected them in their everyday lives.
Despite the fact that none of us was American, and some came from diverse places as Turkey and Bangladesh, this film magically brought us all together and made an incredible job of retelling John Steinbeck's literary classic.
One boy told me that he’d recently been to a party in London and met a guy just like Curley! The kids understood Crooks and his suffering through their own experience of racism, and the girls could imagine just how Curley's wife felt, as she got right under their skin.
When the film ended nobody moved because we had just witnessed Steinbeck's imaginary world. We had seen what he must have had in his head when he wrote his great book.
This movie of Of Mice and Men rang loudly with my kids because it is so honest. It is true to Steinbeck and it is a beautiful and powerful film that continues to live with me.
I cannot understand why it was all but ignored by critics and the public when it was first released. I urge everyone who hasn't seen it yet to find the time to watch it.
© 2013 Giovanna Sanguinetti