In your opinion, what is the most effective medium for telling the “Harrison Bergeron” narrative: film or text? Explain your answer using specific details that relate to each version, as well as thoughtful reasoning.
“Harrison Bergeron”, a short story by Kurt Vonnegut, and “2081”, a film based off Kurt Vonnegut’s dystopian society, are two similar stories with small changes that configure the setting and general perception of the story. My personal preference would be Kurt’s Vonnegut’s take on the story, as the film struggles to illustrate the cold, unforgiving society that the author originally tries to create.
Firstly, the film seems to forget how important the ‘handicaps’ are to truly bring this story to light. There are countless flaws noticeable in the film, which takes away from the equal world Vonnegut depicts. For example, the news reporter in the film is originally handicapped with a speech impediment, however, when another news reporter shows up, he can speak perfectly fine. If the film followed the story, it should be a ballerina that purposely changes her voice to make it sound displeasing, which really adds to the content of the story. The handicap noises were far too quiet in the story to impact me (I didn’t feel like, woah that must hurt) and the ballerina masks were too pretty to be a handicap. I believe this is also due to the limited extent a film can reach past realistic characters. In the story, Harrison is described as wearing, “300 pounds of handicaps“, however, in the film, we notice that the actor who plays Harrison isn’t carrying 300 pounds of metal weights, simply because he is not strong enough to do so (4). I like the fact that the story can be created past what is realistic (obviously a dystopian, all equal world is bit of a stretch), and allows readers to imagine living in such a world.
In terms of representing the author’s intention, in my personal opinion, the film did a poor job representing Vonnegut’s message as the film maker tried to make the film overly interesting compared to the book. In terms of story line and emotional value, I believe he succeeded, as there are more extra components such the bomb, Harrison himself turning on the tv, and a more powerful, ‘heroic’ like speech given by Harrison that captivates the audience further. However, Kurt Vonnegut’s intent was not to write an interesting story, but to deliver an ironic message that there can never be a truly equal society. In creating an inhumane version of Vonnegut’s society, it is arguable that the film is not up to the same standards.