Often, when a book is turned into a movie the movie has many deviations from the text. These deviations are usually made by the director and writing staff to make the story more appealing to the audience in an attempt to get more people to see it and therefore make more money. The most common difference found in a movie is a heightening of mood. For example, when a scene is supposed to trigger a certain emotion from the viewer it is necessary to bring attention to the causes of said emotion. Dialogue and the visual depictions of certain scenes set a tone for the story that may be different from the text. In addition, the writers and the director of the movie may choose to omit certain scenes; this coincides with the theme of building the mood. This happens numerous times in the movie Capote. Certain elements are present in the movie that are not explicitly stated or described in the book and vice-versa.
Capote, though not an exact replica of In
Cold Blood by Truman Capote, Is essentially the same story. In Cold Blood is told from mainly two
view points; that of the two killers (specifically Perry Smith) and that of the
people in the town of
that Capote is not a replicate of In Cold Blood there are several thematic differences. There are also many differences, however, in the way the story is told between the book and the movie.
One such difference is that of the building of moods. In Capote anytime something bad is happening the scenery is dark and drab. This builds the mood in the movie but it is very different from the book. One specific example of such is that of the morning of November 15th, 1959; the morning the Clutter family was found dead in their home. Capote shows it being dark, cold, and dreary. In Cold Blood, however, speaks explicitly of what a beautiful day it was and gives examples of the scenery. There is mention of the “perfect pheasant season weather” (Capote, 77), the sky was said to be “glittery as mica” and that the “sunlight hitting the grain made a golden image.” These descriptions are quite contrary to the dark and gloomy cloudy skies shown in Capote.
time Truman is shown visiting Dick and Perry in Leavenworth Prison in Capote it is cold, dark and snowy. This could be taken as an allusion to the
“coldness” of the killers hearts and how “cold blooded” their actions
were. In addition, the night of the
killer’s executions was in April, yet Capote
depicts it as being very dark, snowy, cold, and foreboding; this weather is not
hanging. Snow, however, has much more of an impact on the viewer because snow necessitates a colder temperature. This cold temperature completes the scene and truly conveys the feelings of loneliness and fear at such an event.
This idea of the cold can also be interpreted as an allusion not only to the killers’ crime but also to the apathy they have concerning their own death. An example of such would be Dick and Perry chewing gum during their trial and in the waiting room before they go to “The Warehouse.” Perry is chewing gum even when he gets up to the noose; “before the mask was adjusted he spat his gum into the chaplain’s outstretched hand” (Capote, 339). Gum chewing, though insignificant on the surface, is a perfect demonstration of their nonchalant attitude. Dick and Perry are portrayed in both the book and the movie chewing gum. Furthermore, Perry is shown in Capote drawing during his trial; a true testament to the fact that “the defendants were inattentive observers” (Capote, 273) during their trial. In addition to chewing gum, Dick and Perry are shown laughing and joking in the waiting room before their execution. They seem as if they have no real grasp on the severity of the situation. In actuality, however, they fully understand; they just do not care. Some of the Journalists present at the hanging even comment on Dick’s attitude of jest towards his impending death: “’That Hickock’s got a sense of humor. They was just telling me how, about an hour ago, One of the guards said to him ‘This must be the longest night of your life.’ And Hickock said ‘Nope; the shortest.’ Ha!’” (Capote, 338)
This attitude is not solely demonstrated by Dick and Perry. Many of the Kansas State Justice officials that are legally required to be present, act as if a hanging is an
everyday occurrence. There is much “self consciously casual conversation” (Capote, 338) amongst the men in “The Warehouse.” Most people would be nervous and concerned that they were about to witness the end of a human life. Instead these men are more concerned about the weather and their new cars. One witness is recorded as saying “Christ! Is that rain and all the windows down in my new Chevy! Christ!” (Capote, 338)
Similarly, “The Warehouse” itself shows irreverence to those on death row. Dick and Perry are going to be put to death and this does not even happen in a place of dignity. A warehouse is a place of utility not justice. These men are forced to take their last breath in a cold, drab building constructed of metal and concrete. There is no emotion in such a place; Dick and Perry must die amongst scrap lumber and old machinery used by the inmates to make license plates. Even Alvin Dewey, the man that worked so hard to catch Dick and Perry, “had anticipated a setting of suitable dignity, not this bleakly lighted cavern littered with lumber and other debris.” (Capote, 337)
Another difference between Capote and In Cold Blood is the portrayal of certain characters. In Cold Blood encompasses background knowledge and view points from people all around the Holcomb area. It seems that within the research conducted in writing the book no acquaintance of the Clutter family was left un-interviewed. Everyone from the River Farm ranch hand to the town postmistress and café owner was asked their opinion of the tragedy and their thoughts were subsequently published. This was not the case in Capote, however. There was little background knowledge on anyone involved in either the murder or the investigation of said murder aside from Alvin Dewey and his family. In fact, the names of those closest to the family were not even kept the
same. Susan was called Laura and Bobby was called Danny etc. Furthermore, the killers were hardly even given any attention in comparison to the book. This left the viewer plenty of room to create their own feelings on both criminals. This is especially true for Perry.
The portrayal of the killers in Capote is fascinating. What little information is given about them painted them in a much different light than what is stated in In Cold Blood. In Capote Dick is portrayed as almost innocent, close to being detached from the crime. He even says to Truman “You know we didn’t mean to… We never meant to hurt nobody.” (Capote) In Cold Blood on the other hand shows that he is the one that came up with the idea to rob the Clutters and that he was more ruthlessly elated to be committing such a violent crime. Perry, though he is the one that actually pulled the trigger, really had no intention of causing any harm and really did not even want to go through with the plan. Capote shows almost a reversal of roles. Dick seems as though he would not hurt a fly and Perry is viewed as a ruthless, cold killer.
Capote depicts none of Perry and Dick’s
adventures after the crime other than writing bad checks in
One interesting item that was included in Capote involving the criminality of the perpetrators and the search for a motive behind the crime was Perry’s admittance speech. This speech was copied verbatim from the text aside from the fact the in In Cold Blood he was speaking to Alvin Dewey as opposed to Truman. It explains everything that happened on the night of November 14, 1959. In Capote this speech is important for Perry to have closure and it shows that he sincerely did not intend to hurt any member of the Clutter family.
Similarly the dialogue in Capote between Perry’s sister and Truman is the same as that of In Cold Blood. This is most likely because Perry’s sister’s monologue about him is very telling of his character and the details of their childhood that caused him to become the man he is. She despises him which leaves the reader or viewer with a difficult dilemma of whether they should become attached to Perry as a character or not. In both the movie and the book this is a very powerful moment that defines the motives behind Perry’s criminal actions since his youth.In conclusion, a movie may, in an attempt to build a mood, not be exactly the same as the text. Often times movie writers will add certain visual or story elements that are not in the book. Other times things are added to the movie to create a mood or theme. This is made clear when one compares Capote to its literary counterpart In Cold Blood.