“In them I see something my sister and I never had, I see hope”-A Thousand Acres (Film)

     Readers love the transformation of a written novel into a digital film. However, this process is quite complex. This is because screenplays are restricted by time and format. As a result, large aspects of the original novel are removed from the film’s plot, which can lead to viewer disappointment. As A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley transformed into a screenplay, the original plot became more simplified. In fact, a major character alternation occurred in the film. Unlike the film, Ginny comes across as a mysterious narrator that leaks information to her readers whenever it is most convenient for her within the novel. For this reason, Ginny is viewed as a participant of the madness that is occurring on her family’s land in Iowa. As a reader, you begin to question the reliability of Ginny. The question that lingers is, “Should Ginny be trusted?” Within the film, scenes that display Ginny’s participation in the drama created by a dispute regarding land ownership are deleted from the plot. These cut scenes include: private conversations with Ty, romantic interactions with Jess Clark, and experiences with Pete at the quarry. Even though the absence of these scenes seems like a simple change, it changes the way that viewers perceive Ginny Cook. Without the evidence that is embedded within these deleted scenes, Ginny cannot be considered a wrongdoer. Instead, Ginny is portrayed as an innocent victim within the film.

     The line that informs viewers that a character alteration occurs within the film is Ginny’s line, “In them I see something my sister and I never had, I see hope.” Even though Ginny may not have received everything she desired in life, it is important to take notice that Ginny is finally content. Ginny is benefiting from the maddening dispute over land ownership coming to a close. At the beginning of the film, Ginny could not see the drama destroying her family ever ending. Now, she is satisfied by what her family’s argument brought her. It allowed Ginny to inherit her ultimate wish, two children. Yes, Ginny was involved in the disagreement that resided within her family but she never took action for her own benefit. As a result, Pammy and Linda are Ginny’s reward.

     As the film version of A Thousand Acres highlights the innocence of Ginny throughout the plot, viewers’ acceptance and trust in Ginny strengthens. As a reader of the novel, suspicion arises when Ginny begins to make selfish actions. For example, the private conversations with Ty highlights Ginny’s mistakes of following Rose’s lead in regards to how to interact with Larry and hiding several miscarriages. Also, Ginny’s near intimate interaction with Pete at the quarry signals to readers that Ginny is not completely innocent. Lastly, Ginny’s attempt to secretly kill Rose with poisoned sausage and sauerkraut makes it clear for readers that Ginny is just as calculating and selfish as every other character in the novel. However, the film fails to incorporate these scenes, which reinforces the idea of Ginny being a victim of her own family. As a victim, Ginny’s world is turned upside down. According to Why the obsession with happy endings?, individuals within society are obsessed with the idea of happy endings due to a fear of conflict. This impacts the creation of the film A Thousand Acres because the development of a beloved protagonist that lives happily ever after had to be established, which is known as happyendingification. Instead of Ginny being portrayed as a calculating character that receives her punishment of inheritance taxes at the end of the novel, she is displayed as a character that stays true to herself and eventually discovers her ultimate destiny. Within the film, that ultimate destiny is to live on a farm and raise children. Discussion Question: Can it be concluded that Ginny is portrayed as a victim of her family’s drama within the film? If so, which version of A Thousand Acres is better?

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