‘David Copperfield’ was one of many novels Charles Dickens wrote. It was completed in 1849 and is written in an autobiography style. He tells his life story by pretending to be a Victorian boy by the name of ‘David Copperfield’. He did this to make the story appear more interesting. The BBC had made a four-hour long film version of ‘David Copperfield’ and there are comparisons that can be made between the book and the film version.
The first comparison is the way the book and the film establish mood. In the book Charles Dickens uses a wide range of vocabulary to give the reader an understanding of the mood that is being created. Charles Dickens uses a lot of abstract nouns in his sentences to describe his feelings. The sentence ‘ But these solemn lessons I remember as a death blow to my peace, and a grievous daily drudgery’ is a sentence that he uses in the passage to describe the way he felt every time Mr Murdstone called him for a test. You can easily work out the mood, which is established in the book by the way the sentences are structured, and how words are put together. In the film version it is far easier to identify the mood because music is used. When it came to a serious part such as when Mr Murdstone was speaking to David Copperfield (which is always in a harsh way) low noted, serious music was used which gives you a clear indication of what is going on.
The book is harder to understand than the film version because the language that was used is difficult to understand. Words such as ‘arrears’, ‘orally’, and ‘mulatto’ are words that aren’t used nowadays. The speech was easier to understand in the film because they spoke the same way as we do. The film version was a lot easier to understand than the written piece itself. The film was mainly told through dialogue and a small amount of narrative was used in the background. When you watch the film version you can interpret the body language of the actors and actresses instead of having the narrators voice telling you what is going on. One section in the book was missed out in the film because it wasn’t very important.
Having less narrative in the film makes it easier to follow, as part of watching films includes mostly dialogue rather than having a voice in the background. Charles Dickens tells the story ‘David Copperfield’ using first person. This form of writing makes the story a lot more interesting and also involves the reader. Using first person narrative is very effective because it allows the reader to go through the thoughts and feelings of the character telling the story. ‘How well I remember, when my smart and passion began to cool, how wicked I began to feel!’ This sentence clearly shows that that the narrator has written about his past life by saying ‘How well I remember’. In the film version narrative such as this wasn’t used it was instead shown as flashbacks. A small amount of narrative was used in the film. When ‘David Copperfield’ was on his own there would be his adult voice in the background describing what he is going through.
When you read the book you can always develop your own images and begin to visualise the characters, costumes, settings and type of life styles etc. Charles Dickens uses a few techniques to do this. He has a sharp eye for visualising. Dickens uses similes such as ‘swells like a rolling snowball’ and writing that Mr Murdstone refers to children as being ‘a swarm of little vipers’. Comparing one thing with another can make you visualise things easily therefore makes it more interesting to read. The sentence ‘ I crawled up from the floor, and saw my face in the glass, so swollen, red and ugly that it almost frightened me’ allows you to visualise because he mentions the action and then his appearance when he sees his face in the glass. Many sentences such as this one is used through out the written piece to make the reader visualise what he once saw. Reading the book allows you to come up with your own imagery but when you watch the film everything is done for you.
Creating atmosphere in a book is done by using techniques whilst creating atmosphere in a film is done by the way the actors and actresses act (as well as music being used.) One way the book creates atmosphere in a film is by firstly using long sentences and suddenly goes on to a short sentence. Because Charles Dickens has written in an autobiography style he’s used details in his sentences so he can take the reader into his experiences. For example ‘ I redden, tumble over half a dozen words and stop ‘. This sentence creates atmosphere because you wonder what will happen to him next as it is a lesson with Mr Murdstone which he earlier on in the book describes as being ‘ a grievous daily drudgery ‘ and also by putting ‘ and stop’ adds to the excitement. In the film you have to depend on the actors to create atmosphere and the way things are done.
There are many ways in which the film and written piece differ. The main reason why the film version is completely different is because you can see everything that is described in the book. When you see things on television you don’t begin to visualise because it is already done.
In the film version music is used to establish the mood. It makes some parts easier to understand by the kind of music that is used.
Atmosphere is also an important comparison between the two because they are both created differently. The book uses words and techniques when writing whilst the film version can do this by a number of ways. Narrative also plays a part when it comes to the understanding. In the book some of the narrative is difficult to understand because Charles Dickens uses different words to describe things. Parts of the words used in the book are not used nowadays/ this is why it was harder to understand. There was less narrative in the film version, which made it easier to understand. Interpreting the body language of the actors also makes it easier than using narrative. More dialogue is used in the film version. This must be why it is a lot easier than the book to understand.
Although the film version was easier to follow the book is enjoyable to read because you can visualise your own settings, characters etc.