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Alex, the film vs. the book

February 25, 2015

In The Making of Alex, the Movie, Tessa Duder makes some interesting points about the differences between book and film (the film script was written by Ken Catran). She explains:

“The book closely examines Alex’s relationships with a large circle of family and friends. In the film, the major relationships are only four: between Alex and her boyfriend Andy, her coach Mr Jack, her rival Maggie, and Maggie’s ambitious mother Mrs Benton. Alex’s family, her asthmatic friend Julia, the swimming officials, Andy’s parents, Andy’s friend Keith, and her favourite teacher Miss Macrae, play comparatively minor roles, simply because of the time constraints of a feature film.” (p.8)

Describing some of her discussions with script consultant, Linda Segar, Duder writes: “When I mention that I am disappointed that more of Andy’s ambitions and background are not in the script, Linda’s answer is a little surprising. “I think this is right. Writers should be careful of getting an audience involved emotionally with the character you are going to kill off. The audience can feel manipulated and betrayed. What is important about Andy’s death, in film terms, is the impact on Alex. It is she they are cheering for.” (p.10)

“Because the story is told through Alex’s eyes, the film equivalent of first-person narrative for a book, Alex appears in every scene.” (p.10)

“…in strengthening Alex’s relationship with her coach Mt Jack, two important poolside scenes were added. In one, they have a major row; in the other, Mr Jack convinces Alex of the connection between swimming and ballet, and that her combined talents can influence her pre-race preparation. The resulting breakthrough assures them both that she can beat Maggie.” (p.12)

Ref: Tessa Duder (1993) The Making of Alex, the Movie. Ashton Scholastic: Auckland

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