The 1998 movie version of the novel Brave New World is very different than what I expected. There were many parts from novel that were either left out or completely changed.
What surprised me the most was how Bernard was not considered the main character. The movie mainly focused on Lenina and how she changed after she met John. This was shocking, because in the novel Lenina did not change and never saw the world from John’s perspective. They changed her character, which in turn added a new conflict. Lenina became someone who didn’t follow the ways of the state. This is shown when she is teaching a class of students about the past. She begins talking about heroes, only to rethink what she’s saying. She goes against what the textbook says, adding her own ideas and thoughts on the subject matter. There was even a moment where she didn’t take soma. People in this society are trained to take soma whenever something unpleasant happens, but she threw all of her soma on the floor. Instead of getting rid of the unpleasant feelings she decided to deal with it. For the first time ever, she felt soma wouldn’t solve her problem. Lenina’s character was changed into something completely different, ending with her understanding the way of life John had been trying to explain to her throughout the movie.
Bernard didn’t seem like an outsider to me. Instead, he seemed to fit into society. He wasn’t anything the novel described him to be. Before we watched the movie, I pictured Bernard as an awkward character who didn’t fit in among the other alphas mentally and physically. I thought I would be able to tell who Bernard was just by comparing him physically to another alpha near him. This however was not the case, and Bernard didn’t seem to add any real conflict to the story. Bernard was more like a side character, while Lenina and John were the main focus.
The fact that John didn’t commit suicide does change his character. In the novel, John decided to kill himself so he could finally be alone in a world where his ways were considered primitive and savage. It was a way for him to make a decision for himself without anyone else trying to control him. In the movie, his death was accidental. This makes me wonder about how John would have dealt with the situation if he hadn’t fallen off the cliff. In the movie he did want to be alone, but when he was running away from everyone near the cliff I wasn’t given the impression he would kill himself. It seemed more like he just wanted to get away from everyone.
The fact that the character Helmholtz wasn’t in the movie disappointed me. His character was one of the more interesting ones and showed just how one could move away from the teachings of the state. However, considering his role in the novel it did make sense to not add him in the movie. If Bernard wasn’t considered the main character and didn’t have a different view from the state, Helmholtz wouldn’t really serve his purpose of being Bernard’s way of connecting with someone who understood him.
Overall, I enjoyed the novel more than the movie. Too much was changed and it took away from some points made.