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A film adaptation is a transfer of a story or novel, in whole or part to a feature film. Some people also say that they have produced the film by inspiring its original story or novel. But, it is too hard for the producers to turn a notable work or story into a movie. A reader has imagined the characters in the story and theme as the writer presented it through his writing. So, when the adaption film doesn’t match with the reader’s imagination that’s why people don’t like the movie as much he liked the original story. This might be another reason is the film director changed or took out some key parts of the story when the movie was made.
Joyce Chopra also has done the same with Joyce Carol Oates’s short story “Where are you going, Where have you been?” in her film “Smooth Talk”. The main character Connie has not a good relation with her mother. Chopra tries to add more scenes between Connie and her mother. By giving more background story, Chopra transfers the main theme of the movie from being about transition to adulthood, and more towards family values and the significance of relationships with family. This theme later on supports the ending of the film which makes notable differences between film and the story. In the short story, it seems mother doesn’t care about Connie because she is jealous of Connie’s beauty and she doesn’t like Connie’s careless and carefree behavior.
In the movie, her mother does care for her but Connie always misbehaves with her mother. There is also another key change short story to the movie is the confabulation about the Pettinger girl. In Oates’s story, Connie says “Oh, her. That dope” and she drew a thick clear line between herself and those girls. In the story, it seems her mother is too simple that’s why she easily believes in Connie’s words. On the contrary, this scene involves her mother is continuously interrogating Connie about those girls until she lashes back and gets a slap on her cheeks from her mother in the movie. Possibly, Chopra changes this aspect of the mother’s character so her ending in the film with reconciliation would make more sense.
The movie more convenience to accept the ending where it shows reconciliation between daughter and mother cause Chopra has given a lot of scenes of Connie and her mother at the beginning. Most of Connie’s dialogue with Arnold Friend in the film is directly from the story. Chopra doesn’t excessively change scenes and dialogues between Arnold Friend and Connie. But she has changed some small parts which makes a big difference. In the original story, the author doesn’t reveal how Arnold Friend knows everything about Connie and everyone. But in the movie, Chopra adds a scene where Connie’s friend Jill describes a man who was asking questions about Connie.
“Smooth Talk” about only one interpretation of Oates’s story, contrariwise there is an ambiguous ending in the story which allows different interpretations. Chopra slightly changed Arnold Friend’s character. In Oates’s story, she gives Friend some more sinister and recognizable as the modern interpretation of the devil. Some clues are – it seems that he wears a wig maybe he wanted to hide horns, his walking style seems weird probably because of hooves, make-up on his face because he wanted to hide his real face, he never enters Connie’s cause according to myth, devil can’t come in if not invited, threatens to use fire to bring her out of the house, he declares he knows everyone and everything, he seems familiar to Connie, playing rock music it kinds of devil’s sign and last but not the least if we remove all “r” from his name then it left “An Old Fiend”. We can see these from the original story but in the movie there is no clue or sign of devil characteristic which can match with Arnold Friend character. “Smooth Talk” presented him as an older man who is dangerous and has bad intention. The story explained well about the character Arnold Friend because Oates gives all subtleties about him and she has given clue his mysterious behavior which creates a possibility that he is a devil. I like “Smooth Talk” movie more than the original story because of the dramatic ending of the movie there is only one interpretation which is more powerful and gives a positive message. Though the ending of the story is an ambiguous and sad conclusion, Chopra wanted to make it seems that there is hope for Connie’s future in the film. There is also an ambiguous ending “is she raped?” in Smooth Talk. But Connie’s behavior has changed and she also said Arnold Friend that she doesn’t want to meet him again which might be possible that he raped her. But, Chopra has given a scene of reconciliation between Connie and her mother. Though Oates has given every detail of the character and scene which makes the story beautiful, but the ending is ambiguous where readers can interpret differently. But also it has given no hope of Connie’s life. The story can interpret a positive way which is Connie always wants freedom where her mother does not interrogate her and Arnold Friend has given her freedom but these chances are less.
In conclusion, the film and story have beautifully presented the same theme but how they are presented is different. Oates’s story ends with consummately no conclusion, but she still uses Arnold Friend as a representation of the culture Connie lives in. This culture ends up being her own de as it lures her far from her house and into the unknown. Chopra’s film ends with Connie’s rejecting Arnold Friend after realizing her troubles and back into her house. The title of the short story is the question that Connie could be asking herself as she is walking out to Arnold’s car: “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?
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