Ever seen a movie you just fell in love with? One of those tear-jerkers you watch because every now and then you need a good cry? A movie you could watch over and over again? Well, I suppose I have many of those, but the one I’m referring to would be “A Walk to Remember”.
The first time I saw the 2002 film featuring Shane West and Mandy Moore I cried for an hour after it was over. And yet, I still consider it one of my favorite movies. It’s hard to explain why unless, like me, you’re a ball full of sappy love stuff.
But one of the reasons why I think I loved it so much is because it’s based off of a Nicholas Sparks novel. It wasn’t until I went to college that I started reading again because I wanted to, not because I had to. I’ve read almost all of Sparks’ novels and I can’t get enough of the corny, predictable story lines he beautifully puts into words.
For a long time I avoided reading “A Walk to Remember” because of how much I loved the movie. I didn’t want the movie to get ruined if the book turned out to be a thousand times better. Which, usually, it is. Movies can’t immerse you in a story quite like a book can.
But, finally, I purchased the book on my Kindle and read it, which brings me to my point. Before I continue, I have to say this: There will be spoilers, so if you’re currently planning on reading and/or watching it please don’t read on.
First, I know movies and books are different entities and you have to love them separately. While I frequently compare movies to books, I do understand filmmakers adapt books into movies the way they do. With this one, however, I wonder why “A Walk to Remember” the movie and “A Walk to Remember” the book are even called the same thing.
If you’ve seen the movie, but haven’t read the book, the following differences may come as a shock. I face-palmed a few times while reading. Here goes:
1. In the movie, Landon Carter (Shane West) is a bad boy. He hangs out by the lake, gets in trouble, and is one of those jock-y, popular high school kids that bullies everyone that’s not like him. In the book, he’s sort of a troublemaker but not nearly as much. Because of how much trouble he gets into in the movie, the principal orders him into drama club against his will. In the book, he willingly takes drama instead of Chemistry. Also, he runs for student body president. The movie-version of Landon Carter would never do that.
2. This one’s probably the most upsetting change for me. In the movie, Landon’s dad is a doctor who is divorced from his mother and is living with someone else. Landon hates him for it and doesn’t want him around. When he realizes Jamie is sick, Landon goes to his dad for help because he’s a doctor and might know someone who can help her. He eventually does help her by paying for home care. That’s when Landon reconciles with his dad. In the book, his dad’s instead a politician(!) who is in Washington, D.C. nine months out of the year! His parents are not divorced and the reason he doesn’t have a good relationship with his father is that he’s simply not physically around. His dad does help Jamie with paying for home care just as in the film, but it just doesn’t have the same effect for the audience.
3. The telescope. This one hurts me a little, too. I know they probably added this to the movie for more effect in Jamie’s character arc, but it’s not in the book. At all. And I wish it was. Movie-Jamie really loves the stars and planets and so she built her own telescope and goes out to the cemetery at night to look at the stars. When her and Landon start getting close, he names a star for her and stays out all night just looking at stars with her. As Jamie starts getting sicker, he builds her a bigger telescope so she can see the comet she’s been waiting to see. It’s adorable! And nonexistent in the novel.
4. The fact that there was a homecoming dance in the book and not a mention of it in the movie was strange to me. Homecoming is a popular thing and I don’t see why it couldn’t have been put in the movie. It would have been a good scene.
5. Because Jamie knows she’s dying, she prepares a bucket list of all the things she wants to do: Get a tattoo, be in two places at once, etc. In the movie, when Landon asks her what they are she tells him all of them except for her number one. When she realizes she’s in love with him, she finally reveals to him that it’s to get married in the church where her mother grew up, where her parents were married. In the book, when Landon asks she immediately tells him ‘the secret’. No suspense.
6. Another thing that happened too quickly in the book was when Landon found out Jamie was sick. In the movie, Landon tells her he loves her when they’re out to dinner and dancing and enjoying themselves. Cut to the couple walking down the street together, where Jamie tells him the bad news and runs off crying. In the book, it happens all at once. He tells her he loves her and she’s like oh… I have cancer. Isn’t the book supposed to be more drawn out and have more detail than the movie?
7. Something I just picked up on this weekend when I most recently watched the movie was Landon’s friends’ different reactions to Jamie. Like Landon ordinarily would, his friends make fun of both Jamie and her father. But when they discover she’s sick they go to her house and apologize. In the movie, Landon’s ex-girlfriend goes to his house with pictures from the play and apologizes to him. I would have loved to see them apologize directly to Jamie.
8. They do get married in both the book and movie, but it’s a little different. It’s not in a huge way, but it does change the situation. Movie-Jamie is sick, but not sick enough during her wedding where she can’t walk down the aisle or stand up to give the vows. In the book, she’s so sick she can barely stand and only does so to walk down the aisle with her father. It’s quite sad, really; I think it would have been even more emotional. That would have been powerful to see in the movie.
The only thing I remember being the same is when Jamie told Landon not to fall in love with her, and he was sure it wasn’t going to happen only to, of course, fall in love.
Before you go telling me otherwise, I know the book came first. I know Nicholas Sparks probably wrote the screenplay and I know he at least approved it. But it’s hard for me to look at them as being the same story when so much is different.
Some are minor changes and some are obvious ones that make for better film, but I honestly don’t think the book was so bad that they had to change things so drastically.
So even though I was nervous about reading “A Walk to Remember”, and I clearly have some problems with the story line, it doesn’t change my love for the movie. I don’t think anything would.
But now, that I’m somewhat over all the differences, I’m onto my next Nicholas Sparks book. Wish me luck, and hope that I don’t discover any more.