The Reader' both as a book and a film

Bernhard Schlink's "The Reader" and Stephen Daldry's Film Adaptation

Bernhard Schlink wrote a book titled The Reader. It was released in 1995 in Germany and 1997 in the United States. It discusses the difficulties post-World War II German generations had in comprehending the Holocaust. It also looks at how the post-war generations got close to the group that saw the atrocities. Bernhard got positive reviews for his book both domestically and abroad, earning him numerous honors. Stephen Daldry's movie The Reader is another option. It is a Stephen Daldry and David Hare-written German romantic drama film that is based on the Bernhard Schlink book. It covers the story of Michael Berg, a German lawyer who had an affair with an old woman, Hanna Schmitz. The film was nominated for several awards (Aragay 3-14). The paper will, therefore, analyze the comparison of the book The Reader by Bernhard Schlink and the movie The Reader by Stephen Daldry, discuss victimization, survivor guilt and self-destructive abuse.

Comparison between the Book and the Film

On the comparison part, in the book, Hanna's apartment is on the second floor. It is an old building which was used for rich people. With smoke from the trains, walls of the building got dark and dirty, and it ceases to be for rich people. In the film, the building where Hanna stays is similar to the one described in the book. The whole building has eight apartments. Michael dwells on the second floor of an old building. His house is big and well decorated. In the film the house is similar, and there are no big noticeable differences. Michael's classroom had a door at the front and windows on the other wall; the windows face the mountain. Also at the front, there is a blackboard. In the movie, the classroom is similar to the one in the book. Differences are only that the door is at the back and not at the front. More so, the walls are not yellow and white as stated in the book but they are dark green and white. Hanna's cell is equipped with a bed, a table, a closet, a chair, a sink and a toilet. The shelves are full of cassettes and book Michael sent to Hanna. In the movie, the cell is similar, but there is no toilet and Hanna does not possess Michael's picture above the bed (Cánovas 455).

There are also some differences between the book and the film. Michael does not describe anything about his classroom in university, but in the film, they spend a lot of time in the classroom. In the book, Hanna is helping Michael to get another bucket, but in the film, Hanna does all by herself. In scene five the trip the lovers take during Easter holiday is shorter than in the film. In the book, Michael is diagnosed with hepatitis, and in the movie, he is diagnosed with scarlet fever. Another part of scene two is where Michael goes to visit Hanna for the first time he does not know the door of Hanna. The book further explains to us that a man directs him to Frau Schmitz where Hanna lived (Schlink 1093-1094). In the film, Michael observes the name tags on the bells and goes directly to Hanna's apartment. In the book when Michael goes back to Hanna's apartment, he waits for over an hour for Hanna to show up, but in the film, Hanna comes into the scene just after Michael arrives. In the book, it is essential to take a shower before making love, but they do not shower in the film. Another difference is that in the film Michael is seen playing handball, but in the book, he is never playing any sports during school time.

Themes in both The Book and The Movie

Victimization showcases in the book The Reader by Bernhard Schlink. The film and the book both show depiction of the victimization of women all over the world. For instance, Hanna is jailed for the crimes of Nazi men and to make matters worse, her only supporter who could come in to help her kept silent. She is held responsible for men's wars and gets punished for their sins. Hanna also mistreats Michael in the book. Hanna got angry at Michael when they were on a trip. Michael leaves to get breakfast and leaves behind a note, but Hanna denies it and hits Michael with a leather belt. Furthermore, she takes advantage of Michael because he is young so she can have someone who reads to her without knowing her secret of being illiterate (Schlink 37). Victimization can also be seen where Hanna is suffering desperately trying to hide the fact that she cannot read. It becomes an inability that causes shame which dominates her entire life.

Guilt manifests itself in several forms in The Reader. It starts from the point where Michael forms a friendship with Sophie and ignores Hanna for sometime guilt is woven into Michael's emotions. When Michael goes to Hanna’s house, she does not find Hanna. She had disappeared. Michael feels guilty that Hanna had left because he did not acknowledge her and never ran to her the last day at the pool. The next time Michael sees Hanna is in a trial. Seeing Hanna in court where she is arraigned for crime shows Michael's guilt of having loved a criminal. He remembers violence Hanna had to him and her unemotional nature. Hanna had an exploitative love for Michael. Michael discovers that Hanna could not read or write (Aragay 3-14). He is in a position of helping her when she was told to sign the report but he decides not to interfere with the process of law and this, in turn, adds guilt to him. Michael's way of communicating with Hanna is sending her the recordings of his readings. For Hanna, this is an immeasurable cause of relief. Furthermore, when he confesses to the daughter of Holocaust survivor, he can reduce his guilt.

Self-destructive abuse is also shown in the book. When Hanna has moved to Hamburg a far city away, Michael is affected mentally, he is depressed, throwing up and not eating much and his body longs for Hanna. Michael goes to seek advice from his father. His father tells him that he has no right to tell the judge although he should talk to Hanna. Michael fears to face her and thinks she deserves a little time in prison. The day Hanna had to be released she commits suicide hanging herself. Committing suicide is a form of self-destructive abuse. The prison warden tells Michael that Hanna’s death was a blown to her. There was difficulty in keeping faith in god. The Jews who believed and worshipped God were burned in the church by the Nazis. All over Europe under German rule, the Jews were hunted down, their houses looted, their wealth stole, and the individuals were taken to the concentration camps where they were subjected to hard living conditions (Cánovas 455).

Millions of Jews were killed in the act of genocide. Some guards stayed behind when the church was on fire preventing attempts to escape. The guards had little faith in god that is why they left the Jews to burn in the church. Responsibility in the book lies where Hanna is in a way responsible for the death of the three hundred people. Her illiteracy does not put her away from the wrongs she had committed when she let people die (Schlink 1093-1094). In legal law, you can be held responsible for a crime if you were simply a part of the project. Michael is also responsible in a way for Hanna's death. Reasons for Hanna's death are not known since she commits suicide, but the only person she talks to in her life is Michael so he might be cause of her death in some manner. Michael also decides to be responsible and goes to school.

Loyalty is also revealed to The Reader. Michael was loyal to his parents at first. He was also loyal to Hanna and always loved her despite the mistreatments Hanna gave her. Hanna was loyal about being pure, and that is why she insisted on taking a bath before making love. Furthermore, Hanna values the loyalty of Michael's school routine (Schlink 37). When Michael refuses to go to school Hanna gets angry and hits him with a leather belt. Hanna in the reader is a portrayal of loyalty and helps to know that literature has relevance to our lives. There was some historical accuracy in the book and the movie. Some scenes lacked historical accuracy. The film adapted from the book attempts to explain problems associated with the aftermath of the Holocaust. The cast members' were to blame for the death of the Jews. No actor could that because it removes historical accuracy. The film characters show the present historical ignorance. The artist enters the past through to the current situation.

In conclusion, the book The Reader and the film The Reader have no very big differences only that some parts put in the book are excluded in the film. More so, the book discusses the themes of victimization, survivor guilt and self-destructive abuse. Parts where responsibility and loyalty lie are also shown in The Reader. There is also little historical accuracy in the book and the movie.

Works Cited

Aragay, Mireia, and Pilar Zozaya. "Stephen Daldry." British Theatre of the 1990s, 2007, pp. 3-14.

Cánovas, Marcos. ""The Hours," de Stephen Daldry: traumas y tiempo narrativo = "The Hours", by Stephen Daldry: plots and narrative time." Signa: Revista de la Asociación Española de Semiótica, vol. 25, no. 0, 2016, p. 455.

Schlink, Bernhard. "Schlusswort." JuristenZeitung, vol. 68, no. 22, 2013, pp. 1093-1094.

Schlink, Bernhard. Por qué Carl Schmitt?" Precedente. Revista Jurídica, no. -, 2010, p. 37.

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