Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Painted Veil

I've finished the book now and can report that the movie quite dramatically changed the relationship between Walter and Kitty from the original. They both chart Kitty's growth both in maturity and emotionally but the movie turns the marriage into a late blooming love affair when it never is in the book. Interesting. Basic events remain the same but the movie fills in a lot of detail, particularly to do with the cholera epidemic-- treatment, causes, cultural impediments etc--which is very interesting and adds to the story, really. We learn much more about the character of Walter through his work. In the book Kitty comes to admire him greatly for his skill and compassion but says several times she could never love him.

I think this is a case of a movie enhancing a book but adding the love affair part was probably a marketing device. Kitty's spiritual awakening isn't such a drawcard perhaps!


Kirsty C said...

I didn't realise the romance wasn't in the book (haven't read it, as you can tell!). It was one of the parts I enjoyed the most and the reason I blubbed at the end.

Do you think that having her fall in love in the movie was to show that character development? In the book it is easy to read what she is thinking, to know that she has grown and admires him. Hard to show thoughts in a movie and maybe they chose to resurrect the relationship to show how much she has changed from the immature little twat she was at the start?


Elisabeth said...

I'm not sure about the reason for the love affair in the movie. We don't see much of Walter in the book. He's reserved and distant after he learns of the affair and stays that way. Even more so when she admits she doesn't know if the baby is his.

She spends her time at the orphanage or with Waddington. She wants, above all, when Walter is dying, for him to forgive her but he dies without saying much and she doesn't know if he's understood her or not.

In the book she undergoes very profound changes but she never loves Walter.

Making her love him, as such, doesn't really mean she's changed much. She travels back to Hong Kong and is taken in by the Townsends. She realises what a true rotter Charlie is then because Dorothy is very kind to her and he still has another go (successful) at seducing Kitty. She is appalled at herself, at her weakness, and leaves for London where her dreadful mother has died. She sees for the first time how badly the family treated her father and is quite stunned to realise he doesn't want her back. He wants to live his own life. They all used him as a money pot.

By the end of the book Kitty is truly ashamed of her old self but determined to raise her unborn child in a different way. She goes with her reconciled father to Jamaica and a new life.