Sophie's Choice: Book Vs. Movie

By: Aubrey Kennedy

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Sophie's Choice Official Trailer #1 - Kevin Kline Movie (1982) HD

An Unfathomable Choice

In the novel Sophie's Choice by William Styron, Sophie, a woman who was apart of the tragedies in the holocaust, is faced with the worst decision a parent could ever imagine making: she must choose which one of her two children get to live and which one has to die. Throughout the book we see Sophie beyond depressed, and the movie doesn't do as good of a job of portraying this. For example, in the book, Styron describes how Sophie's daughter is whining due to an ear infection before Sophie is forced to make her choice. However, this is not shown in the movie, leaving out an important influence on Sophie. Through these significant differences, it is obvious that the book and the movie are extremely different.

Hitler's Main Target

In the book, Styron makes it clear that Jews are not the main victims of the holocaust, but instead the Slavs, blacks, jews, and women are all targeted pretty equally. The movie does something completely different, which is make it seem as though the Jews were the most, if not the only, people being targeted by Hitler and the Nazis. The reason this makes a huge difference is that it changes one of the major ideas of the novel, which has to do with universal suffering.
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In the book, Sophie was raped on a subway, which causes her to have extreme trust issues and be extremely guarded when it comes to sex. Stingo even admits in chapter four of the novel just how difficult trust is because of the lies that she had told him about her father and other things. However, this is never mentioned in the movie. The significance of this would be that because this isn't mentioned in the movie, it takes away from the hardships that Sophie had been through and how that built her character and brought her to where she was at that time.

Attempted Suicide

In the novel, Sophie is at such a depressed state that she even tries to kill herself while she is at the beach with Stingo, but he rescues her. For some reason, this was completely left out of the movie. Not only did Sophie not try to commit suicide, but she doesn't go to the beach with Stingo either. Because this is not included in the movie, it takes away from just how depressed Sophie was. The audience, through watching the movie, would not be able to understand just how miserable Sophie is.

This gives the viewers the wrong idea of just how much Sophie's choice affected her.

Sophie's Virginity

In the novel, Stingo begins to wonder certain things about Sophie because of the lies she had managed to tell him. Stingo wanted to know who Sophie had made love with and she told him that the only man she had made love with besides Nathan was her husband, which is a lie. Sophie also made love with a lover she had in Warsaw. This conversation does not happen in the movie. Because this is not mentioned in the movie, the viewer doesn't get to see Sophie lie again, which says a lot about her character. Without this conversation, the audience misses where Sophie stands with her morals when it comes to things like this.

My Thoughts

I have always loved books more than movies, and this was especially true when is came to Sophie' Choice. The movie was sad and depressing, but the viewer isn't nearly as emotionally connected with as they would be if they read the book. The movie leaves out important situations and settings that could potentially change the viewer's/reader's opinion on Sophie or the situation. The book was extremely intriguing and I would have liked the details to have been portrayed in the movie as they were in the book. If I had to suggest one or the other, I would definitely suggest the book.