The Holocaust is a very dark moment in human history which is often told, presented and understood through literature and film. Through reading a re-telling of life during the Holocaust, readers are able to gain a better understanding of what it felt like to be living during this time. It is also possible to convey these same emotions through films that depict life during the Holocaust. Sarah’s Key is a fictitious emotional story that weaves together the past and present and allows the reader to gain an understanding of what life was like during the Holocaust. While the book version provides deeper insight and allows the reader to draw their own conclusions, the film presents a stronger and more easily understood version of the story.
Between the book and film versions of Sarah’s Key, there are major differences. One of these differences is the variation between the storyline within the book and the storyline within the film. As in any book to film conversion, the storylines are not going to be identical. In this case, there were many noticeable differences. One of the most significant differences is how in the book version of Sarah’s Key, Sarah’s brother is the person who suggests that he should hide, yet in the movie Sarah is the one who suggests the hiding place. This is an important difference to make note of because the director uses that change to keep the storyline moving within Sarah’s guilt, which is a technique that was not necessary within the book. Another one of the differences between the storyline is that within the movie, the friend that Sarah runs away within gets ill and dies, which does not occur within the book. There are also other minor variations in plot between the book and the movie which were mostly used for cinematic effect or to shorten the length of the story.
Within Sarah’s Key one of the most important elements in the story is the way the author chooses to interweave the narratives of Sarah and Julie. Within the book, this is done through switching between the two characters every few pages. This can be a difficult task for the reader to accomplish, because just as the reader is getting involved within one storyline, they are switched to the other character. Because there are so many details to acknowledge within both Julie and Sarah’s lives, it can be difficult to become fully immersed in the story. As the novel continues, it can be difficult to keep the details between the two characters straight. The movie version of Sarah’s Key seems to present a more fluid movement between the stories of the two characters. Watching the two narratives, as opposed to reading them, is a stronger and more easily understood method. Although the two characters are linked together through the house, their stories can seem very distant from each other, both unique and complex in their own right. Through the directors creative methods, it is easier to understand both sides of the story when viewing it on the movie, rather than when reading it.
Another difference between the book and film is the presentation of details and how much is disclosed about each character. Within the book, there were some events that occurred which were not present in the movie. The movie provides a more concise version of the text, because it edited out some aspects of the story in order to fit within time constraints. Through editing out earlier parts of the text, the movie was able to better explore the ending, making it easier to understand. Within the book, the ending seems very rushed and can be difficult to follow for the reader. After the point in the book when Julie uncovered the truth behind Sarah’s mystery, it seemed like Sarah’s story was lost, and the rest of the book was just used to tie up all of the loose ends within Julie’s life. Yet within the movie, the directors were able to create a more meaningful and understanding end to the story. The movie version of Sarah’s Key presents a more concise version of the story, and it also allows the storyline to come full circle with an organized and understandable ending.
Another major difference between the book and movie Sarah’s Key is the violent imagery that was present within the film. When reading the text, the reader recognizes the violence that is occurring within the story, but the gruesome brutalities are overshadowed by the storyline of the characters. Within the movie, the violence takes center stage for a larger majority of the storyline. The violence and disturbing imagery of the Holocaust plays a more prominent role within the movie than it does within the book. The movie directors are able to use the author’s storyline to create vivid images of the violence that occurred during this time. In regards to the graphic imagery within the story, the movie version was able to better convey the severity of events that occurred.
Often when comparing books to movies, the book is the more complete and stronger version of the story, yet in the case of Sarah’s Key, the movie presents a stronger and more understandable version of the story. Although, within the film, there are aspects that have been changed from the book, the majority of the storyline is the same in both the book and the film. The film does a stronger job of presenting imagery in a clear, logical, and understandable way. The film also presents a more concise version of the story in which the viewer is not distracted from the storyline by miniscule details. Because of this, the person who views the film may come away with a better understanding of the points the author was trying to convey.
De Rosnay, Tatiana. Sarah’s Key. 2011. St Martin’s Griffin.
“Sarah’s Key”. Paquet-Brenner, Gilles. 2011. Film Adaptation based on book by Tatiana De Rosnay.