Dylan Poon

"Whoever is trying to bring you down is already below you"

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2081 or Harrison Bergeron: Film Or Story

In Vonnegut’s “Harrison Bergeron” and Chandler Tuttle’s film adaptation 2081, we see a dystopian world, in which everyone is equal, held down with handicaps of pain. The plot follows George and Hazel Bergeron in their living room one day, watching television, when a news broadcast is purged by Harrison Begeron, George and Hazels “genius and an athlete, […] under-handicapped” (pg.3) son. In both the film and text, George and Hazel try their best to watch, as their son breaks free of his handicaps, and try to change the societal norms. Though both follow the same story line, the film is a better way to express the mood, and make a greater impact on the viewer/reader.

In the both versions of the story, George experiences loud noises coming through his earpiece handicap, not letting him think. In the text version, we read that George’s noises are like “a burglar alarm” (pg.1), giving us a vague insight into the noises. However, when watching the film, we get a better sense of what the handicap is like, with a loud and very sudden jolting sound every 20 seconds. Similarly to the text, the film takes advantage of George’s earpiece buzzing every 20 seconds, making a moment seem longer than it actually is. The movie though, outdoes the film, even though both of the mediums use the same trick, as the film can give an exact sound, making the reader experience the exact effect. In general, the movie can give a more accurate impression of sounds and other similar elements, such as appearance of visuals, while still using the expanded moment.

Alongside the expanded moment, the film 2081 also uses visuals to make actions seem more obvious, and delivers the point more than text descriptions. In the paragraph where George “tried [tries] to think a little about the ballerinas,” (pg.1) as well as when he “began to think glimmeringly about his abnormal son who was now in jail,” (pg.2) George in the film does not get very far with thinking, and we never see or get a visual regarding these two topics. However, when we see the ballerinas in the film, we gain a more effective grasp on what their world is like. We also get to see Harrison being taken away many times, showing more insight into George’s character, as well as demonstrating the absolute control that the government has over their people. The addition of more intense visuals lines up the the saying “a picture is worth a thousand words,” making the film a more effective medium.

By adding in more descriptions of appearance, as well as other senses, we get a stronger impression of the world in 2081/”Harrison Bergeron” through film. Since the text provides less detail than what we could see in the film, the addition of the devices that filmmakers can use against what authors can use is vastly different, placing the film in a better place than the short story.

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