Benbrook Library / Musings

Book-to-Movie: The Tale of Despereaux

the-tale-of-despereax                          tale of despereaux_movie









This week, we have a guest post from Kayla R., a library patron and BARC participant. In order to fulfill the requirements of the “Be a Film Critic” BARC task, Kayla has written her thoughts on the film “The Tale of Despereaux”  and the book of the same name by Kate DiCamillo on which the movie was based. Big thanks to Kayla for contributing such a thoughtful, well-written comparison. Here is her submission:

The Tale of Despereaux is a wonderful children’s story that has recently been transformed into a cartoon-type movie. The book and the movie, both taken on their own, are both quite excellent. But if you wish to see a movie that reflects the book it was based on, you’ll have to look elsewhere.

Firstly, in the book The Tale of Despereaux, the main character is a rather fearful, very sickly small mouse who isn’t liked by other mice because he displayed human-like tendencies (enjoying colors, music reading, etc.) He is terribly frightened when faced by anything slightly frightening and is prone to faint. This presents a problem when he rescues the princess because he must overcome his fear of rats, dark and the dungeon in general to free his one true love.

But in the movie, Despereaux is a very brave mouse who likes cats, knifes, and jumping over mousetraps. This inconsistency in between the book and the movie actually changes the main character and the story. After all, the point of the story is that he must face his fear to save his love. If we do not include that he had that fear, then he cannot face it, and the story is utterly changed.

Second, the antagonist’s struggle was changed as well. Roscuro, a rat who lives in the palace dungeon, is drawn to the light. He has been ever since he was born in the dungeon. So, in pursuit of the light he is drawn to, he goes up to the main floor of the palace and accidentally interrupts a banquet by falling into the queen’s soup. The queen dies from the shock, and the princess, a beautiful young lady named Pea, looks upon Roscuro with hate. Roscuro sees this and his heart breaks and heals twisted, so that his only goal is to lock the princess up, away from the light. He wishes with all his heart to take her away from the light…forever.

At least, that’s what happens in the book. If you watch the movie, you will see that he is a rat from out-of-town who accidentally falls in the queen’s soup and kills her. He is chased into the dungeon and lives there. But he is a gallant rat (of course) and doesn’t follow the wicked ways of the other rats. Instead, he brings Despereaux back to the light and tries to apologize to Princess Pea. She tries to kill him, so he uses a servant girl to capture Princess Pea and is going to feed her to the rats. I must say, I didn’t like the idea of the rats eating a human. Sorry, I’m not big on seeing people defaced.

There were other details in the movie that didn’t match up to the book (the jail wasn’t a maze, the servant girl was more threatening, the servant’s father was a different man, magic played a bigger role) but I believe that you can see from the examples I have selected that the movie has failed to parallel the book.

-Kayla R.

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