A Comparison of Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go and Its Movie Remake by Mark Romanek

Never Let Me Go is a novel written by Kazuo Ishiguro and has recently been depicted as a motion picture directed by Mark Romanek in 2010. The book brilliantly portrays the struggles of three human clones as they progress through their lives knowing that ultimately their organs will be harvested for other human beings. The film primarily follows Kathy, but Ruth and Tommy naturally gravitate towards her and are integral components of the story. The director successfully converts this novel into not only an entertaining but a symbolic representation of the emotional turmoil that restrained love causes while also taking the liberty to adjust certain facets of the story in order to create a more powerful effect on the audience.

The movie opens with a scene of Kathy briefly caring for Tommy and immediately proceeds to jump backwards in time in order to begin the story with a young Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy at Hailsham. The audience immediately sees the importance of these three characters as the movie chronologically starts with them and also hints at the future relationship of Kathy and Tommy. This relationship is further developed through the interactions of the two throughout their youth at Hailsham through incidents such as Kathy being concerned about his favorite shirt. The director also adds more to their attraction through cinematic elements that the novel could not capture. He creates a scene where Kathy and Tommy are viewing a movie at school, and although no words are exchanged, the heartfelt look of longing they exchange with one another reveals that they clearly share feelings for one another.

The director solidifies the importance of these characters and sets the stage for Tommy and Kathy’s future relationship early on by utilizing parts of the story and an added scene that appeals to the audience visually. Hailsham acts as a vital part of the film because it molds the mindsets of the students from a young age. Once again, the director takes key parts of the story and fuses them with added scenes in order to prove his point. The audience comes to the understanding that Miss  Emily and Hailsham as a whole desire the students to develop a careful and conscientious mindset. The students play a game and refuse to climb a small fence after the ball flies over it. They cite horror stories such as a girl getting her feet and hands cut off as well as other mysterious incidents when questioned by Miss Lucy. The viewer gets the impression that these stories were likely planted somewhere along the way by a Hailsham representative in order to confine the students.

Furthermore, there is an assembly scene where Miss Emily declares that she found cigarettes on campus and reminds the students of the implications of smoking compared to normal people. The director adds a scene where Miss Emily briskly instructs Tommy to eat his vegetables as she walks past his tablet. All of these instances are key in demonstrating to the audience the limitations of love early on. By developing and cementing the mindsets of these students to Hailsham‘s advantage, the institution prevents them from thinking of outside possibilities such as fleeing the country. Without reading the novel, one would not understand this which is why the director makes such a strong effort to get the message across that they are raised to think so linearly. The effects of Kathy being separated romantically from Tommy are seen early on starting when he and Ruth kiss.

It appears that she instigates and controls the relationship which is consistent with both the novel and the tone of the film to this point. Kathy does not understand why Ruth decided to pursue Tommy when she teased him throughout their youth, but the director makes it clear to the audience that Ruth has historically acted for her own personal gain which explains why she made fun of Tommy earlier. Jumping forward from the scene of them kissing to 1985 approximately ten years later is intriguing as it emphasizes the magnitude of the impact of the relationship between Ruth and Tommy on Kathy. She narrates her confusion and regrets throughout this time change as she expresses that she wished she had made fun of Tommy like.

Ruth had in order to attempt to gain his love, The film smoothly transitions time periods and does not let the change distract the audience from the flow of the story by continuing Kathy‘s narration throughout it and showing the effects of being separated from Tommy. The director changes more aspects of the story in order to communicate Kathy’s frustrations with Tommy and Ruth. She has been bottling her emotions for years and is reserved up to this point but calls out Ruth for rubbing her shoulders of Tommy. This differs as the novel portrays the gesture as a pinch of one shoulder. The director likely made this change in order to make the gesture more relatable to the audience He also adds in Kathy walking in on Ruth and Tommy having sex as well as hearing them through the ‘thin walls” of the Cottages.

This contributes to her frustration and makes the audience more sympathetic to Kathy who has to see her regrets firsthand, Simultaneously, the audience sees Tommy’s dissatisfaction through the added scene of their intercourse where. Tommy simply lays there while Kathy passionately acts on him. The following scene where Kathy lies in her bed in order to console herself overhearing Ruth moaning loudly has been manipulated by the director in order to further develop the audience’s understanding of Kathy’s emotional struggles. The director emits the entire section of the novel where Tommy and Kathy search for her lost cassette tape.

He does not divulge into the instances where Kathy and Tommy truly bond but rather keeps them confined through the character of Ruth. In a selfish effort to console Kathy, Ruth says, “although Tommy really likes you as a friend, he just doesn‘t see you that way,” Kathy finally erupts and cannot further handle living in the same home as the love of her life knowing that she cannot have the relationship with him that she desires. Fleeing is the only option clear to Kathy, and her inability to love forces her to do so and she leaves to be a carer immediately following her interaction with Ruth. The three main characters reunite but by this time their roles have changed Earlier.

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