A few days ago, Lesya and I saw the classical 1950-s Hollywood movie made after Steinbeck's "Grapes of Wrath," and I am so bewildered.
The film was overall very good, the actors were wonderful, the spirit of Steinbeck's heroes was most definitely there. But why was the end completely cut?
The end of the novel is tragic and certainly influenced by Steinbeck's meditations on the Bible. The Joad family is in a small valley being flooded by a river swelling as the result of torrential rainfall. The water is rising. The family, together with other folks, is trying to build a dike, but the water ruins it over and over again. Meanwhile one heroine (Rose of Sharon) gives birth to a stillborn child. Having buried the little corpse, and having finally given up on rebuilding the dike, the family abandons their sunk truck and runs uphill, hoping to be saved on the hilltop. There, they find a barn, where a man is dying of starvation, and Rose of Sharon breastfeeds him. Whether or not the man survives, whether or not all Joads are killed - we do not know, but the waters are still rising. The last sentence of the novel says only that Rose of Sharon's eyes "were smiling mysteriously."
In the movie, however, the final scene is when Ma tells Tom that now, we all have to stick together and we will make it. Sweet optimistic, upbeat tune plays in the background. Great American Dream...
I haven't seen "East of Eden" yet - is it also so "primitivized" and de-Christianized, compared to the novel?