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John Berendt's Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

In the novel, some of the residents of Savannah, like Jim Williams, partly believe in her magic and spell casting. During the trial, she tells Williams the dead boy is working hard against him and he replies, 'Danny? Well, it doesn't surprise me' (Berendt, 1994, p. 353). In the movie, however, she is treated like a local eccentric. When Kelso asks her to come in during a funeral in the cemetery, she says 'I never enter the office on Sunday. Ba-a-d juju' (Eastwood, 1997).

Some things the movie changes are understandable and do not truly undermine the original. This is the case by having the four trials of Jim Williams' in the novel reduced to a single trial in the film. However, the film tries to fit the characters and Savannah into a courtroom trial format. Once the trial begins, we begin to lose focus on the rich characters, including Savannah itself. We also see in the movie that the character of Danny Hanson is renamed Billy Carl Hanson and reduced to two or three scenes that do little to shed light on the potent and powerful relationship that is offered in the book. Jude Law portrays Billy (Danny) as a hothead doped-up hustler, 'You don't give me warnings, I give them to you, remember, æcause I can back mine up' (Eastwood, 1997). We see him in two such scenes and then he is dead. These kinds of conservative choices by the filmmaker have basically removed the humor, weirdness and mystery that make the novel so appealing.

There are some things that the movie version does enhance compared to the book of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Chief among these is the ability to use photography and music to great effect. While in the book it is the character's richness that brings Savannah to life, in the film music and photography help to achieve a richness the book cannot. For example, at the beginning of the film we are provided with an aerial


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John Berendt's Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 04:08, August 20, 2017, from
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