In the novel, I Heard the Owl Call My Name, Margaret Craven introduces the reader to the lives, culture and history of the Kwakiutl Native Americans, whose village, Kingcome, is located in British Colombia. In the beginning of the novel, the reader finds out that Mark, a vicar, is dying. He has no more than two years left to live, although he doesn’t know it. The Bishop, his superior, decided to send him to his “hardest parish,” located in the Indian village, Kingcome-without telling him about his dying condition.
In my opinion, the book and the movie are two different stories in that the movie leaves out so many key points that made the book a lot easier to understand. I believe that the film producers did a very poor job in writing the movie. One of the first things that you find totally different from the book and the movie is the way that Mark Bryan, the main character, is portrayed and described in the two different versions. In the book, they describe Bryan and being very drawn back and patient with the village people as he waits for them to ask him to join in different ceremonies that the village has.
He is also very passive with the way he handles himself and is very one with nature and his environment that he is thrown into. He isn’t too pushy because he knows that he is a visitor in another word if you will. In the movie however, Bryan is very outgoing and persistent in his intent to change to many things in such a short amount of time. He is also very aggressive and demanding in that he all of a sudden expects the village people to build boats to send their children to the States.
So in two different versions it seems like you are reading and watching two different people. One of the examples of this that I noticed in the two versions is the part where the village people go to the burial ground of their people. In the book, Bryan is kind of hesitant in a way and doesn’t want to jump right in the celebration in that he felt it would be wrong of him to interfere with a sacred ceremony that the people hold. He waits until they offer him the chance to join in the celebration.
The movie on the other hand paints a different picture in that it shows Bryan leading that village people to the ceremony while they are holding hands and skipping through a field. The viewer just kind of asks themselves, “When did this come about? ” Another change in characterization is the way Jim is portrayed. In the book he seems very peaceful and a person willing to help Bryan in anything that he needs. Then in the movie it seems that he hates the white man for all the things that they have done to his people.
It’s kind of like he is stereotyped in a way being that that how most of those people felt in the time that this movie was made. Another difference between the two versions is the style that they are both told in. The book is very simplistic and direct in that it tells a story in which a total stranger becomes one with people that you would never imagine yourself being so close to. Another thing is that the movie didn’t have the impact like the book had in that it didn’t get in depth like the book did. It left out great detail in the journey that Bryan endured.
An example of this is the “Death of Sadness” section in the book. When you read the book this is a very key section in that it gives the reader a type of vision in the life of these people and in the movie they totally didn’t acknowledge it, which is very disappointing. Plus, the movie also touched a lot on the villages’ religion as a whole while the book never really did, besides the part where Bryan and the two kids are watching the salmon in the river which made no sense when the girl tells him he is part of the salmon people.
I mean where did that all come about in the movie. The settings in the two versions are also very different. In the book, the setting and landscape in a way become a character in that it seems to be one with the village people. The landscape is like a sacred thing that the people take very seriously and care very much about. But again, in the movie it is never mentioned how important the landscape and their homeland are important to them. The final thing that is different between the two versions is that of the way Mark Bryan dies.
One thing is that Bryan doesn’t even know he’s dying in the book until the end while in the movie he knows he’s dying in the first part of the movie. Then when your reading the book, at the end Mark and Jim go off on a little journey then the reader reads that there is an avalanche and only one of them survives and your not knowing who is the survivor, but you know and have a feeling that it is indeed Mark just because after reading the rest of the book he’s going to die anyways. But in the movie at the end Mark goes out on one of the salmon boats by himself.
The viewer sees him go out on the boat and the next thing you know is another boat sees Bryan’s boat sitting there drifting in the water and it is presumed that Bryan has a heart attack or something and dies in the boat out in the water. I mean how different can two endings get in two versions of the same story. This just goes to show the reader the great detail and time that Craven put into her story, while the writer of the movie just kind of, in a way, through a bunch of things together from the story and made a movie about it.
One thing that I have to say about the book is that it was a very good piece, in that it was well put together and well thought out. It paid a lot of attention to great detail and made the story flow and the reader could easily follow along. While the movie on the other hand was very boring and drawn out. I must say that if I had to watch the movie first I defiantly wouldn’t have wanted to read the book afterwards.