Introductions of Young Men to Wide Worlds

Dylan Hintz
Film Literature
Dr. Johnson

Introductions of Young Men to Wide Worlds

Two films dealing with the epic journeys of young men are based off of Steven King’s novella The Body and Brian Aldiss’ Super Toys Last All Summer Long respectively renamed Stand By Me and A.I.: Artificial Intelligence. Both films and written works for each story have their characters introduced from different points of view: Stand By Me and its novella format relate the description of the characters from an older narrator who is looking back on his memories of childhood, while A.I. and it’s protagonist are introduced from someone entering a world new to him.

One major character introduced in the Steven King novella is Teddy Duchamp. The exposition describing his character in the novella lasts about two pages, but helps to describe the world through memories of the author. One statement that allures to the nostalgia of the time period is “Teddy had Castle Rock’s first Beatle haircut- four years before anyone in America had ever heard of the Beatles” (295-296). The film, well known for its accurate depiction of 1950’s America, recreates this pre-Beatles world through a look of homeliness and disgruntled youth. The four main characters, each boy at or around the age of twelve, are residing in a tree house, hiding from the “adult” world with cigarettes, gambling and crude humor. Teddy’s film version is only introduced with one short narration by the older Gordie, explaining how he was the craziest person they knew, with his dad having nearly burned off his ear by holding it to a stove. In comparison to the many details requiring nearly two pages of exposition in the novel, the film brings up all elements of his character faithfully in one close up shot with the burst of narration. The look of thick glasses and disheveled hair crafted by the film crew brings the character of Teddy to life truthfully in comparison to his novella version, and with it, the feeling and nostalgia of the 1950’s world in which he resides.

The science-fiction film A.I. brings a boy known as David into a world of radically advanced technology and lonely mothers. The short story lent inspiration to Stanley Kubrick and Steven Spielberg to recreate the interaction between these two characters. In the story, after a confrontation with Monica (the “mother” in question) involving flowers in a garden, David runs away upstairs, questioning his mechanical bear about his mother’s love for him. Later, he asks the bear about reality, and if David himself is real. The child is shown having such simple desires, as putting a rose on his mother’s pillow as a gift to win her affection ends up being his last thought in the story (118). In the film, Spielberg has to re-craft David’s attempts to garner this affection in an even more visually detailed world. In a scene where David sneaks up stealthily behind Monica as she makes coffee and makes her bed, we can see that she is completely comfortable with the technological advancements of the world, while the curious boy following her around places her repeatedly on edge. His exploration of the surroundings is the link for the viewer into this world, as his inquisitive probing makes him foreign, and his “learning curve” of the brief novel is expanded within the film, given more depth and allowing his character to become better-rounded, while exploring the future that the director has created for the audience.

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  • graypheonix

    Is this the complete essay? If this was meant to note both films, then it does it well. But what about comparison between the two, showing the differences, how one did certain aspects better than others, how they engaged and worked in these aspects?

    Admittedly, only a larger review of the films could do this (and I DESPISED AI when I saw it, too slow paced and dragging to be interesting) but it does point out aspects I didn’t consider, looking back. The only thing, is that Monica wanted a child to replace her sick one, for a time, and as a result, didn’t get what she wanted? It always seemed she was okay with things, if not satisfied. Still, it’s an interesting essay, so far. Look forward to more forays in the future. Ja ne.