However, on the screen, the clashing religions are never mentioned as a cause for the rift between the two parties. Theology once again comes into play when Nan realizes that she is pregnant. Being a Catholic woman, she is not ready to have an abortion. ” I can’t do that Simon! I’m a Catholic. I can’t help it. I can’t kill my baby.”v Simon (a Protestant and the father), on the other hand, finds it difficult to understand why she is so adamant about keeping the child. He is forever unforgiving to those who practise Catholicism and refer to the practitioners as “you people”vi, as if they were a race overtaken by a malignant disease.
Catholicism is a huge issue in the novel that cannot be ignored. Eve’s upbringing in a Catholic convent, and her and Benny’s education by nuns and priests up until the commencement of their post-secondary studies are supporting evidence of this point. Also, it would be considered a disaster of gargantuan proportions should Sunday mass be missed, and the girls’ souls would be rest uneasy without doing a weekly confession. The film spends very little time depicting the importance of religion in terms of how it moulds the personalities and inadvertently controls the actions of the different characters, but instead glazes over it in favour of more tantalizing and dramatic story lines. From the religious spectrum, the film’s lack of emphasis on this aspect of the plot is only further proof that Circle of Friends is clearly not Hollywood material.
Finally, when all is said and done, Circle of Friends was better off being left alone. It is too intricate of a novel to cram into a time space of less than two hours, and the sparkle that it has on the page just could not be translated onto the big screen. After closely looking at the abundance of sexuality presented in the film which is no where to be found in the book, the film’s lack of focus on the importance of religion, and the unnatural absence of important characters it is obvious that the book was not destined to be a hit in Hollywood.
In quoting Susan Isaacs of the New York Book Review, “There is nothing fancy about Circle of Friends. There is no torrid sex, no profound philosophy. Only wonderful metaphors.”vii Considering this, and in light of the nature of films that become box office success stories, one must pose the question: what were the tinsel town screenwriters thinking when they penned this screenplay?
Hello. Today I will be presenting to you the novel Circle of Friends, by Maeve Binchy, and its film adaptation by the same name. To start things off, I’m going to present you with a hypothetical situation. Consider this. You are the director of a major motion picture production company, and you are in the middle of going over potential screenplays for your next movie. On the one hand you have a script about three young women starting off their university careers. It promises to be full of sex, friendship and betrayal and family feuding.
On the other side you have a script about a sleepy little Irish country village, and the daily gossip of the townies. It appears that the most exciting place to be is in a Catholic convent. Now here comes the difficult part. You only have enough money to make one movie. Which script do you choose? In light of the course that mainstream film companies tend to follow, it would be safe to say that the former sreenplay would be the safe choice. The two topic that I’m going to be discussing today are the role that sex plays in both the novel and the film. In today’s society, the fact is, sex sells, and is a multimillion dollar industry. Adult entertainment, XXX films, pornography sites on the internet, and sex novelty shops are just a few examples of the market options out there….obviously sex is a topic that appeals to the average consumer.
The principal theme of the book is personal relationships within a circle of friends, hence the title. In the case of the novel, there is not much to do with sex at all. The book primarily focuses on the personal evolution of Benny Hogan, the heroin of the story. She is an overweight, and insecure girl who has been educated all her life that men are the enemy, and being a Catholic girl, she’s been raised to believe that sex is a sin outside of marriage.
When she starts her first year of university, she meets up with Jack Foley, a smouldering young man who is the star of the school’s rugby team. As unlikely as it seems, the two wind up entagled in a sweet and innocent romance. Throughout the novel, Maeve Binchy skilfully recounts their love story, showing the reader why the two are in love, developing their bond so that it is believable, and realistic. However, the movie’s focus lies almost solely on the physical nature of their relationship. It jumps from the first kiss to the young couple getting busy in the car.The film cuts out all the inbetweens, everything that shows that the two are truly in love and that it’s not just about a pleasurable muscle spasm.
In the case of Eve, the orphaned girl who was raised by nuns, the transformation her character undergoes from the book to the movie is shocking. In the novel she is described as a quiet manhating girl. She shuns all advances made to her by her “boyfriend”, Aidan. She won’t let him hold her hand, kiss her, or basically touch her. However, on the big screen, Eve is a much more corrupt character.
Although she remains a fiercly guarded person, and holds tight to her Catholic faith, it doesn’t stop her from taking part in a game of sex checkers, where the loser must indulge the winner with a sexual favor. This is hardly the typical behaviour of a girl who was spent her life living in a convent. Scenes like this are nowhere to be found in the book, and don’t add taste to the movie, but rather takes away from it’s integrity and respectability.
Last but not least, we come to the character of Nan. She’s beautiful, manipulative and completely socially aware of class and standard. Of the three main characters, she is the most aware of her sensuality. She is a girl from the city, and is thus considered more mature than Benny and Eve, the country girls. In the book, Nan decides to throw convention into the wind, and loses her virginity to Simon Westward. She’s truly believes she in love with him, and at the same time is after the fortune that comes along with his name. On screen, her character comes across as a sexual maven, always looking to have a good time. It fails to show the depth of her character, and how in the book, it is her desire to leave behind her working class family and to gain social distinction that drive her to pursue Simon. There appears to be no genuine emotions in her, and that it is pure lust that fuels their relationship.
Just to show the contrasting sexual content between the book and the movie, I’d like to present you with first of all the most provocative passage from the book, and than a short clip from the movie. This passage is a discussing between Benny and Nan about Nan’s relationship with Simon. It comes from the sound recording of the book. This clip pretty much defines what the entire movie is about. And without furthur ado.
Overall, although sex is integral in our society, and is just a natural part of human existence, the degree to which it was presented in the film just doesn’t square up with the book.. In closing, I’d just like to say that the film, as an independent piece of work has it’s own charm, but because it’s meant to be based on a novel that has garnered so much critical acclaim, and so much of it has been changed, it is a poor representation of the literature, and would most likely be a disappointment to any fan of the book.