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The novel The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway is set in a Cuban community whose fundamental economic activity and staple means of survival is based on the fishing activities and dependence of fish as the primary source of nutrition. The themes in the story are depicted and revolve around an epic struggle between a veteran fisherman and the ultimate catch of his life, which came after eighty-four days of failed endeavors at sea. The main character in both the film and novel is the old fisherman, Santiago, and his apprentice, Manolin who watches over the old man in his days of struggle and futile attempts riddled with bad luck that has seen him go for eighty-four straight days without success (Hemingway pg. 11). This analysis explores the strengths of the film in comparison with the original thematic concerns in the novel, the old man, and the sea.
The action and adventure film from the novel by Hemingway is a one hour and twenty-three-period film, a carbon depiction of the messages that the novel itself contain. The message that comes out clearly from the onset of the novel and the film is persistence and determination; not losing hope on one’s chosen trade no matter what. Santiago never relents despite the isolation that begets him leaving him with the young boy, Manolin who believes in him and is mindful of his welfare. In the novel, the sail of his skiff represented the ‘flag of permanent defeat,’ as most of the locals, including the family of his apprentice, saw him as a failure and jinxed person who could offer their boy nothing at best (Halliday¸ pg. 18). The persistence exhibited by Santiago show the honor in struggle and quest to never losing hope until that day when he finally landed a big catch, marlin. Even after the catch at sea with marlin, he still endures a three-day struggle to bring the huge catch ashore, warding off sharks and other sea creatures that continuously ate the flesh of the fish that he had finally landed.
There are different aspects that come into the movie more clearly than they are perceived in the novel. For instance, the pride and the moral belief that Santiago had in his line of trade was so immense that in the end only his heroic abilities and admiration by the people who had berated him as perennial failure became evident. In his inability to bring whole the fish ashore without the sharks invading his catch, elements of greatness rather than failure became more explicit in the end. To the person who perfectly understood and believed in him, he feels a bit disappointed and believes he should have done more to reassure him of his belief in him and asks personal questions the probable reason for his own undoing, the answer he gives is “Nothing…I went too far” (Hemingway pg. 178).
The mood that comes out in both the movie and the novel is that of sympathy and compassion that Manolin had for the Old man. The fact that everyone is withdrawn and uninterested in his affairs compel Manolin to take a keen interest in him and provide him with the basics that he needs in order to survive in the days that he fails to secure any catch, and they were plenty (Hemingway pg. 154). He offers Santiago, company throughout the times when he is not at sea and updates him on the topics of baseball sports through the newspapers (Halliday¸ pg. 14). That comes out clearly since the old man spent a significant amount of his time drawing the connection from the natural environment, considering the fish, the birds, and stars were the only brothers and friends. To show him more love and care Manolin was worried continuously over the absence of the old man for the three days he was at sea struggling with the huge catch he took most of his efforts to bring home. When he finally arrives and falls into a deep sleep from the exhaustion of the struggle, he fetches him some coffee and waits by his side to wake up. Santiago, through the little care and attention he received from Manolin, had rich energy free of fatigue, a spirit that was evidently indefatigable and made him feel more accomplished despite the reservations of observers that he amounted to nothing much.
The compassion that Manolo had for the Oldman was so boundless such that observers were standing by at times asked if by any chance they were related. For instance, in the movie, Pruitt asks Lopez if they are relatives, the reply that Lopez gives that they are only related ‘by affection. (Halliday¸ pg. 14)’ He usually wishes Santiago good luck whenever he sets out for the fishing endeavors, on most occasions in which he is all alone by himself, and he either talks loudly to himself or sings. The age gap between the two friends never at once became a barrier as mandolin believed that the old man was a great fisherman and that, soon, he will come back from the fishing activity that saw him absent for almost three days leaving Manolin worried.
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