The good earth, movie versus book

Essay by jstarxUniversity, Master'sA, April 2003

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The Good Earth, made in 1937, was an interesting portrayal of life in China during these times. Although I think it is a great movie for this era, I had a hard time relating to the film. The advancements in film have made it hard to go back to older movies; things like digital effects and color have really made older movies seem like ancient history. The characters seemed over dramatized and unrealistic. The plot did not stick to the book and seemed to change some of the symbolism the Buck used. The book was much better then the movie and the movie did not do the book justice.

The Characters O-Lan and Wang Lung were changed the

The 1937 movie to which Chin's character objected did not feature any Chinese actors, but appeared to speak for China. Many in 1930s China objected to its unromantic description of village life and its inclusion of sex.

Still, the book, movie, and Broadway show made Chinese people real for millions of Americans

The book raises fruitful questions about the Chinese farm economy, family, and the status of women. More substantively, I think I can show how Buck illustrates the long-term cross-cultural moral debate over the nature of modernity, introduces students to issues in American foreign relations (rather than simply diplomatic relations), and shows how unarticulated views of history shape the ways we see the world.

The book Pearl Buck wrote in the attic of her cottage in Nanking is not the same one as the American public read. The American audience reads a novel about "peasants," a word that does not appear in Buck's book. In fact, I have found almost no use of the English word "peasant" in relation to China before the 1920s; "farmer" continued almost unchallenged through the...