Safe Haven

Nicholas Sparks

The Film vs. the Book

In my opinion, many scenes in the film stayed true to Nicholas Sparks' novel Safe Haven. For example, the overall plot and story line were very similar save for a few minor differences. In the book, Katie, the protagonist, runs away from an abusive relationship in order to start a new, peaceful life. She tries to keep to herself as much as possible but ends up falling in love with the local storekeeper's daughter, which gradually leads her into a relationship with the storekeeper, Alex. Throughout the novel, Katie lives in constant fear of her husband finding her but at the same time, finds herself falling in love for a man and a father who doesn't force questions out of her despite her secretive attitude and unusual remarks. For the most part, the movie follows the book. Throughout the movie, Jo, Alex's late wife, remains a loyal and helpful friend to Katie at just the right moments, as is accurately depicted in the movie. Also, the relationship between Katie and Alex is fostered in the same manner as it is in the book--at first, both are weary of each other but through their love for children, their love for each other also grows. Although the story line is the same, I found that one of the biggest differences between the film and the book was that in the book, Katie saves the children from their burning home but in the film, Alex is the one to save them. Also, while Katie manages to get the children out of the burning house and lure Kevin away, Alex ends up fighting Kevin and saving Katie's life. In the film, Katie saves herself from Kevin. I also found that the emotions portrayed in the novel were far stronger than the ones conveyed in the movie.
Safe Haven Official Trailer

Why is the Film Different?

Like I mentioned above, I feel that the movie followed the novel pretty well. All the characters were fully developed in the movie, as in the book, and their lines and emotions were conveyed at just the right time, also as in the book, to gradually build up the relationship between Katie and Alex and his kids, and also convey to the audience Katie's abusive past. However, minor differences were present and while they were minute, there was one that I think spoke louder that others. The part in the book where Kevin, the angry, abusive husband, sets fire to Alex's home while Katie and the children are inside, and then Katie goes on to save the children and fight Kevin, was changed. While Katie is the one to save the children from the burning store/house in the novel, Alex is the one to save them in the movie. I feel that this small change was pretty significant because in the novel, Katie's rescue scene conveyed to the readers how important Alex's children were to her: how much they had impacted her life and how much she truly loved them. In the movie, Alex saving his own children took away the emotional significance of Katie saving the people she comes to consider as her own family. Also, in the movie, Kevin didn't actually set fire to the house, technically the fireworks did, which I also believe took away from the idea that Kevin truly only cares for himself and the power and control her can hold over other people. Also, another major change was that in the novel, Alex saves Katie from Kevin, while in the movie, Katie saves herself. I am particularly partial toward the scene from the movie because I feel that instead of having to have a man save her, Katie displayed true strength when being forced to face her biggest fear: her husband. These minor changes may have been made because the scenes in the movie would have flowed better and more easily than had they been verbatim with the novel. Also, the directors might have also wanted to show that while Katie was strong enough to overcome her fear, leave her old life behind, and fall in love with someone who showed her respect and kindness, they also wanted to convey that Katie was also strong enough to overcome her fear without the help of a man or anyone else. Although Alex and his children helped her develop her strength, in the end, it is she alone who takes Kevin down (in the movie).

What do People Think?

In the blogs and movie reviews that I've read, most people feel that the movie is a very accurate portrayal of the book. The relationships that are created in the movie mirror the ones Nicholas Sparks develops in his book. The emotions are there and so is the strong bond between the five main characters, Katie, the children, Alex, and Jo. Kevin is also portrayed similar to as he is in the novel, although some people feel that he wasn't made evil enough. However, the plot and story line remained similar and few people had any significant complaints about how the movie was directed compared to the events that occurred in the novel.