Controversy and curiosity surrounded the international best seller Fifty Shades of Grey, by E.L. James, when it hit theatres this past Valentine’s Day weekend.
The portrayal of Christian Grey, the disturbed young billionaire and Anastasia Steele, a virginal English-lit major, proved to be a daunting task. Imagination, which is the forefront prize in a novel such as Fifty Shades, chose Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson to personify the characters.
Let’s talk facts. The novel has been purchased by over one hundred million readers making it one of the most highly coveted series novels since Twilight. The adaptation raked in over $81.7 million in American and Canadian ticket sales, globally earning $240, million making it one of the most successful Valentine’s Day releases in years.
How does the book compare to the film? Having seen and read both artistic mediums, I am being one of “those” people and saying that the book is conclusively better for a variety of reasons:
The movie was well-acted but not smart. Scenes were cast in dark, dreary Grey tones (go figure) and offered seductive music to try and convince audi- ences that the movie was sexy. It seems that certain truths James so delicately and agonizingly il-
lustrated was lost in the motion picture’s simple competence. I consider the film to have accurately “told the story” that the reader would have remembered: the college chic lifestyle of Ana, the immense wealth of Grey, the stolen glances and the biting of lips. The depictions being so sexualized at times, however, that several walked out of the theatre.
Ana is a very relatable character to many women. Her thoughts, fears, anxiety, and ever-changing psyche proved that the subject matter of dominant/submissive behavior could in some respect be romantic. The film lost the meaningful side of the novel and concentrated on the Red Room instead of the deep layers of Ana’s emotional disdain.
The representation of white, in accordance to Ms. Steele, and black to Mr. Grey metaphorically characterized their behavior in the beginning of the novel. The reader can feel the awkwardness at the first meeting in Grey’s office and the heat in the infamous elevator. The reader is able to get inside Ana’s head and live her transformation from the vir- ginal white life she once lived, to a darker shade of grey, literally.
Fifty Shades of Grey, the novel, was an enticing story reveling in the world of highly dramatized fiction and considered a good read for the romantics. The bold move of releasing the film on Valentine’s Day weekend, in my opinion, is ironic con- sidering that the movie is highly unromantic— almost anti-romantic.
The credits began to role and as an audience member I found myself in a state of confusion, apart from the partial detached realism and cliffhanger ending. Personally, I always consider the novel to take reigned precedence over any motion picture. Fifty Shades of Grey was no exception. I challenge lovers of the E.L. James’ series to see if the film induced pain or gain in comparison to the novel. I predict a Part II feature in the upcoming years. May the second film make up for the first’s inadequacies.