Good Book, Bad Movie Essay, Research Paper
Good Book, Bad Movie
There have been many book to movie conversions, yet Rising Sun by Michael Crichton was one that had gone horribly wrong. Rising Sun, in addition to being a gripping mystery/thriller, functioned as a scathing attack on American apathy to Japanese economic aggression. In fact, in his afterward to the novel, Crichton says, “The Japanese are not our saviors. They are our competitors. We should not forget it.” Statements like
these earned Rising Sun the dubious distinction of being a Japan-bashing novel. The movie version of this book tried to stay away from that type of publicity. With it came a horrible adaptation of a wonderful book.
First some background information. In an empty conference room on the forty-sixth floor of Los Angeles’ Nakatomo Tower, the dead body of a beautiful young call girl has been found sprawled out on a table. When Lieutenant Tom Graham (Harvey Keitel), the racist cop in charge, has trouble obtaining the full cooperation of the Nakatomo execs, Special Services liaison Lieutenant Web Smith (Wesley Snipes), who
was renamed from Peter Smith in the book, is summoned for help. Along the way, Smith receives a call on the car phone telling him to pick up Captain John Connor (Sean Connery), a man known to be well-versed in Japanese traditions and, in the opinion of some, a Japanese sympathizer. Nothing about this investigation is straightforward, but as more is revealed about the details of the case, Connor and Smith find themselves
“in the warzone” of a business battle in which life is a commodity easily lost. That is where the similarities between the book and movie stop.
Although Crichton?s book contained mass amounts of Japanese bashing sentiments, much of the anti-Japanese sentiment has been toned down. Great pains are taken to present as many positives as negatives in the Japanese way of life, and there are as many sleazy Americans as there are Japanese in the movie. Crude Asian stereotypes and caricatures are avoided, and care is taken to give the good guys vices and the bad
guys virtues. With the exception of an ill timed and confusing ending, the movie follows the general plotline of the book surprisingly well. There are changes of course. Despite altering the specifics of the killer’s identity, the main culprits remain the same. A few additional action scenes have been added (Sean Connery and Wesley Snipes enter into a hand-to-hand struggle with a bunch of Japanese thugs) to keep the audience’s attention, and a great deal of Crichton’s detail on Japanese culture has been dropped.
The most obvious book-to-movie change is the casting of black actor Wesley Snipes as a character that is white in the book. Actually, as things turn out, the race of Lieutenant Smith becomes almost irrelevant, except in one scene new to the movie where Smith uses a bunch of his ghetto buddies to help him out of a scrape. With much of the intended comedy failing in this instance, this is not one of the better alterations.
It’s far too silly. One of the problems with getting a rising star of Wesley Snipes’ stature to play opposite Sean Connery is that Lieutenant Smith can’t simply be the second man to Connor. Admittedly, there is some friction between the two in the book, but it’s nothing like what’s present in the movie, where the two almost come to blows (actually, Smith wants to fight while Connor looks at him like an amused parent with a misbehaving child). There is also the change of Tia Carrere?s character Jingo Asakuma, which was
changed from Theresa in the book, from single woman to being Conner?s love interest. The ending is a little sloppy, with a bit too much “Hollywood” added, and a long, drawn-out scene with Snipes and Carrere that’s pointless. Apparently the writers wanted
to solve the one outstanding mystery of the film in the most idiotic way possible.
In the final analysis, Rising Sun is yet another book-to-movie conversion that loses something in the translation. This is one adaptation that could have been done better but limitation on the audiences attention span just would not permit it.