25 October 2011

{Movie Review} Water For Elephants

By: Me My Shelf And I | 25 October 2011 at 10:02 AM | |


Here at MMSAI we are taking a step into the movie review biz as well. And thanks to the wonderful folks at Fox Home Entertainment we got to kick off this new adventure with an amazing early screening copy of  Water For Elephants Staring Resese Withersppon, Robert Pattinson and Christoph Waltz. (click banner below to view imdb page for the movie)

DVD Releases NOVEMEBER 1st!


Now, one  of the most frequent things I have heard when this movie is mentioned is this: “I loved the book so much, I am terrified the movie will ruin it” I was actually worried about this as well, but it was short lived once I started to watch it.

Water For Elephants is masterfully created and really pulls you in to the life of the circus in 1931. No detail over looked, no cost spared, to bring you the most realistic adaptation of the amazing novel by Sara Gruen.

Now, let’s just face this little issue here quick and move on, because I know you  - my frequent readers, what you are thinking. Robert Pattinson is in this – that’s why I liked it. My Dear Lovelies, just because I favor the Twilight movies, does not mean that I will enjoy everything one of it’s cast members is in. And above and beyond that, I read Water For Elephants back in 2006 when it came out, LONG before it was a twinkle of an idea for a movie, and long before Mr. Pattinson was chosen to play Jacob Jankowski. *smiles*

I fell in love with this book from the jump, and anyone who loved the book – will no doubt love the movie more.

Now, we have a little helpful “Study Guide” if you will that I followed along with while watching to compare this movie to it’s book. Isn’t this every fans dream – compare the book to the movie *squee*

WFE Book Study Guide

Click it to see it full sized and save it for yourself!

Now I’m going to cover a few of these great questions listed here, I won’t do them all but I have some favorites!

What elements of the 1930’sdid you enjoy in the book and film? The style and fashion?

My favorite bits were really the same between the book and the move, both had this undeniable way of really pulling you into the world of the Benzini Brothers Circus. Raising of the tent, the atmosphere in general of a fully working circus.

But, the clothing, yes was a big one for me. Especially Marlena’s outfits both for pleasure and work.  Truly beautiful!

Discuss Sara Gruen’s choice to tell the story from Jacob’s point of view vs. Marlena’s. How did she do portraying Jacob and what did Robert Pattinson add to the character.

I have the awful habit when reading a book to never once consider what the story may have been like if told from another POV. The thought of Water For Elephant’s being told from Marlena’s point of view is an interesting concept, but I don'' t think it would have provided the same mystery and depth as it did being told from Jacob’s. Marlena’s life is pretty much all laid out for you, she works, fawns over her abusive and mean husband, trains and has dinner dressed like a princess.

Jacob however brings the heart ache of loss. Excitement of trying something new, fear of the unknown, love burning deep down he can’t express and the need to work with the animals.

Pattinson did a great job, in my opinion. I pay very close attention to what and how I felt the character in the book was to what is coming off on the screen, in every book to movie I watch – even when I’m not reviewing, and I never once recall feeling like anything was lost between the pages to the screen. You can tell Pattinson did his homework, he puts in the effort to learn as much about Jacob as he can, and really becomes him for the movie. I’m grateful to all the actors for this, nothing is worse than an amazing book being less than that when it’s on the screen. Thankfully the magic flows smoothly from the page to the screen in Water For Elephants.

What Scene from the book do you feel translated best onto the screen?

For me it was near the end, the stampede in the big top. In the book, there seemed to be so much going on that it made it a little hard for me to lay it all out in my mind. I completely knew what was happening, but I couldn't “see” it clearly, if you know what I mean. When it came to this part of the movie I was, mouth agape, eyes wide – just remembering. And being grateful to see this amazing climax laid out before me finally. For all the confusion and action happening all at one time I think that they really made it  amazing for the movie.

Now, there is a question about the quotes on the study guide. I want to touch on a quote, but it’s not one of those.

You see, there’s a line that has always stuck with me through out the book. If you recall at the beginning the old Jacob is standing watching them tear down the tents. He tells someone near him he used to work for the circus and he replies “What, did you carry the water for elephants” (or something similar, excuse my misquote)

The line, in some fashion is still in the movie but not at a point where I would have expected it. I do so wish they could have gotten it in to the beginning like it falls in the novel. It didn’t ruin anything for me, but it was one of those things I was watching carefully for when I put the movie in.


Wrapping up – it’s great movie, and a fantastic book and one time I can 543246.1020.Ahonestly say a movie didn’t ruin a book. It very truly only enhances it! If you still haven’t decided if you want to try the movie out, still scared that you may not love it as much as I am saying you will – check in tomorrow when I will be giving away a DVD/Book Bundle to one of my lucky readers from Think Jam, who’s putting on this great little tour of sorts for WFE!

Also – do me a favor….have you read the book AND seen the movie when it was in theater? Well choose one of the questions from the study guide above and tell me your answer in the comments below! I want to hear what YOU thought about the book and the movie!!!


Thank you Fox Home Entertainment and Think Jam for allowing us here at MMSAI this opportunity!


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  1. I think Christopher Waltz did a fantastic job with the August character. I wasn't super excited about the movie's treatment of August, because without pointing out the mental illness part of him, it just made him come across more evil than I think the book intended that character to be. I've seen that guy in Inglorious Basterds, and he does play the villain well. He has that look about him that makes him just... skeevy. But honestly, even though they didn't mention that August had the mental illness, I don't think anyone else could have played him better.

    Now, about the Jacob-Robert comparison? I don't think he was the right actor for the part. He did very well, don't get me wrong, but he is not who I would have seen playing Jacob if you asked me before the cast list was released.

  2. I unfortunately never read Water for Elephants but I have always wanted to watch the movie. I seen Robert Pattinson and I knew instantly I wanted to watch it. I love, love stories. When I was looking through the movies available on Blockbuster Movie Pass I ran across it available in Blu-ray so I immediately rented it. I was able to stream it to my TV very fast. Renting your movies in Blu-ray format really does make a difference. As a DISH employee, my experience with the Blockbuster Movie Pass has been very positive. Needless to say the movie was great, the actors were great and Robert and Reese were beautiful.


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