Fans compare, contrast ‘The Glass Castle’ movie, memoir

“The Glass Castle,” the film based on the New York Times best-selling memoir by Jeanette Walls, hit theaters Aug. 11.

The memoir is about a woman with an unconventional upbringing who becomes a success despite her family hardships. However, there were many different opinions of the movie and even the book itself.

In the 2005 memoir, Walls recalls different stories throughout her gypsy-like childhood. From memories of an alcoholic father to being severely burned while cooking at 3 years old, Walls shares the struggles of life with her dysfunctional family.

Dr. Berniece Alspach, assistant professor of English at California Baptist University, described the symbolism the title brings to the memoir.

“‘The Glass Castle’ symbolized the belief in dreaming versus accepting cultural expectations,” Alspach said. “Jeanette’s parents seemed to reject the American notion of material possessions such as a home with a mortgage, a steady job and a traditional education.”

Instead, both her parents had grander dreams of adventure, travel and riches. They wanted their children to embrace adventure and seek out bigger ideas and the natural world rather than something more stable. ‘Glass’ would certainly not make for a stable home, but it does suggest openness, vision and beauty.”

Linsey Rahe, junior communication disorders major, did not read the book but saw and enjoyed the movie.

“The Glass Castle” was incredibly moving. The director (Destin Cretton) did a great job at showing Jeanette’s inner battles of whether she should stay true to her family or continue with her new life,” Rahe said.

While Rotten Tomatoes rated the movie at 48 percent on the “Tomatometer” and the audience scored it at a 78 percent, those who read the book seemed to side with Rotten Tomatoes’ rating since they did not think the full story was portrayed well on screen.

Cassie Vela, senior early childhood studies major, said she realized turning this book into a movie can be difficult.

“Being able to accurately turn a novel into a movie can be tricky, especially when it is a memoir,” Vela said. “When it’s through the eyes of a person you have to be able to portray it in the way it is read. The reader will follow the descriptions of the author, which most of the time is very difficult to show in a movie due to it not being dialogue.”

Vela suggested that those who read the book before they saw the movie may catch onto more details than those who did not read the book.

“Memoirs (are) about the voice of the writer recalling their life and drawing out the nuances of their experiences. Word choice and language is so important. Films, on the other hand, are about the director’s worldview,” Alspach explained.

About Audrey Stoddard

A&E Editor

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