There are vast differences in the 1998 film Brave New World that led me to enjoy it more than the book. The removal of characters, along with the infusion of others led to a different feel and smoother storyline. The plot was also changed to be more about Bernard Marx and lenina, with both changing more dramatically after meeting John vs the book. There is also the presences of a sup plot with Deltas and conditioning that was seen in the book. The Director was more of the main villain this time around and the controller seemed less so. The film brought more life into the story, it was able to make it more believable, and was closer to modern times.
Changes to the book are made instantly at the start of the film with the class tour of the Hatchery being led by lenina vs the Director. The setting is also different from what is described in the book, we do not see the assembly line of surrogates and the process of making new people into all the castes from before birth. Lenina completely replaces the Director with the speech she gives on the past world, how people suffered, how they loved, and the dangers of it. Lenina also stays with her class even when they go to bed and are under hypnopedia. Lenina is kept in view much more than the book and she is with Bernard Marx vs Henry. Henry is another omission that changes the story from one in which Bernard is unhappy and ridiculed to the film version where he is a mix of Bernard, Henry, and Watson. Bernard works in conditioning under the Director and is at odds with him but no to the point shown in the book. Due to the removal of many characters that played supporting roles and as points of comparison the remaining characters had to be altered or the story would fall through.
The deduction of flaws with in Bernard Marx leads to him seeming as part of the community and leads to us not seeing anything wrong with the society because he no longer had different views on it. His flaws made him unique and let him be an individual. However in the film he is socially active, follows the society, and has no issues with it. He has everything he wants, lenina, a job, and friends and has fun. The only thing that is different is that he wants to improve things, to make people happier. He has nothing against the current system, he is a part of it, he wants to make it even better and he is nothing like the book. This is where the film losses base with the book, this one change to Bernard Marx being a part of the machine vs being an outcast. This fundamentally changes the plot, until John is brought in nothing we see is wrong, it is the opposite. The visuals of the good society is everything we see today, it is clean, white, city life, clubs, night life, work and normal. Even the fact that people are supposed to be other people or many people at the same time is down played. Lenina gets scolded by her friend once and she just blows it of saying that it’s only been 6 months. The new suave Bernard Marx says “let them talk, they have nothing to say”, while in a club, which he does not mind taking lenina to. Also he gets another girl in the club and sleeps with her, which the old Bernard could never do. The film never gives of the feeling that there is anything wrong with the world, for there is no who complains about it.
The film also down plays the savages, they all wear clothing and simply act like any teenager or young adult ruffians on the streets. The film seems to focus more on city life then any higher meaning that the book tried to create. The good place is the city and the bad place is streets where all those who do not work or have lives hang around. This film could have been shot completely in New York City, with everything in Manhattan building and parks being the advance society and the savage place being the streets like Harlem or more north of the city. This film focuses on the problem of its time, with people wanting fun, excitement, fads, and entertainment. The big trouble at the time was young people acting out and being different and rebelling and pop culture taking control. The other major concern was brain washing, or people being influenced by all the ads, games, films and the internet. That is why there is the whole sub arc of turning people into mindless killers. The fear that the masses can be swayed into taking actions they do not believe, peer pressure and the media going too far.
Then there is johns death, which is tied to the hounding of the paparazzi, the mass wave of people showing up taking pictures, video, asking questions and pushing him to the edge. The last part was taken literally with John falling off a cliff when blinded and startled by a helicopter. Of the two deaths that John suffered I think this one is slightly better, here he did not choose to die. He was full of passion, rage, sadness, but had hope and before any of it could be settled he fell. This felt better, it more of a direct result of society that he died vs him losing him mind. However this does remove his internal conflict with himself that the last part of the book focused on. The film stripes the meaning out of the book in large part with this as well. The good part is that this is not the end
The sub plot that was mentioned before is much more integrated that we are first led to believe. For the most part it only shows up 5 times with the fact that Deltas are not working, that they are starting to question things. They show how they condition people to try and fix it and later how the Director uses it to try and kill Bernard Marx to hid the truth of his son. The fact that the Director is the father of John and kills his mother and by extension John from sadness. Later this becomes a problem for Bernard Marx when lenina get pregnant and they end up in a simile situation as the Director. But that is not true, seeing as they fix it and make it work in the end.
Perhaps this is why I like the film better, it has a more complete ending and ends on hope. On the other hand it completely changed the story to something else and lost its original meaning. Now this also shows how good the writing and imagination of Aldous Huxley was decades prior to allow this film to be able to twist it. However the controller loses a lot of spirit in the film, he becomes a friend and that creates a tone that does not match the book. In the book he was figure of power and cunning, able to play with fire but keep it to himself. Here he just shows up and makes everything fine for Bernard Marx and John. That is the other flaw here, John. John has an impact on lenina but here it is positive and she becomes a better person, wanting to break free for this world after his loss. However other than that change John did nothing, he did not open anyone else eyes and even the Controller said he was no threat. There banter this time was also lackluster. Over all this film was good and well-made but it lacked a shine that the book had about the world it created, even if it was flawed in many ways. There is a lack of gravity in the film, everything seems like it is under the influence of soma and that the book is simply a fragmented dream that we see tiny pieces of.