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How does the sense of emotion and depth of characterisation diminish in the film version of Angelas Ashes The book was much better than the film is the ultimate clich of the pretentious cinemagoer However as is the case with most clich there is an element of truth in this statement For while a picture might say a thousand words there are some words that pictures can never express When the words of great literature are translated into scripted lines and stage directions some of the depth and beauty is lost Cinema simply cannot convey internal thoughts and emotions with the same subtlety and clarity as the novel This was certainly the case when one of the most acclaimed works of contemporary autobiographical writing was recently adapted for the screen Frank McCourts Pulitzer Prize winning memoir Angelas Ashes is a bittersweet narrative of growing up in poverty in 1940s Ireland Seen through the eyes of a child the events are intricately linked to a childlike innocence and wonderment In the film version this very personal outlook is lost because the film genre requires a more omniscient perspective The loss of personal perspective and its accompanying insight into the protagonists thoughts and emotions results in both a diminished depth of characterisation and a reduced emotional impact in the film version of Angelas Ashes When I look back on my childhood I wonder how I managed to survive at all It was of course a miserable childhood the happy childhood is hardly worth your while Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood and worse yet is the miserable Irish Catholic childhood McCourt 1996 p 11 So begins the luminous memoir of Frank McCourt born in the Great Depression in Brooklyn to recently arrived Irish immigrants and raised in the slums of Limerick Ireland Franks mother Angela has no money to feed the children as Franks father Malachy rarely works
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