I haven’t done one of these comparison blogposts in a very, very long time. However, I do want to do more of them. They are just slightly more time consuming than ordinary blogposts. I won’t go into massive detail about book vs. film, but these are only key points that I myself have noticed.
The book presents the story through the point of view of an observer, Richard Gaysford. This puts the audience at a distance as the story unfolds. The book is only about 100 pages long and moves at a very stodgy pace, while also discussing other themes and topics within it, perhaps to emphasize the scientific thinking minds of characters such as Zellaby.
Life outside the village isn’t shown within the context of the book, because the telekinetic power of the Children brings people back if they leave. In the same way, one of the central couples manages to escape the confines of the village due to the death of their Child due to illness and yet after they leave they fall from the scope of the story as if they no longer exist. The story also has more demonic babies (around 60) born in the village in total. The story also jumps ahead significantly in time later on in the story, which shows how much control the Children have over the village. The ending of the book isn’t as dramatic, however, but again it is more the underlying threat which is brought to the fore.
The book also enunciates the threat from outside such as the Bomb, Nuclear testing and immigration, not to mention the threat of a baby boom.
The film lacks the central narrator of the book, while also placing Gordon Zellaby (George Sanders) as the protagonist. Zellaby acts as the force to which the Children are kept almost as test subjects to be studied. The film further emphasizes fears of outsiders within the village, while at the same time not really showing life beyond it aside from the threat of other Children in other countries who were viewed as outsiders within their own communities.
The film hints at the Russian threat as well, alongside with similar themes dealt with in the book, such as the threat of invasion and the ramifications of a baby boom. The ending is also a lot more sudden because of Zellaby’s self-sacrifice in order to stop the threat of the Children.
What’s the Damage?
As comparisons go, the book and film are both incredibly similar. They both epitomize the threat of invasion within a small community of inherently British citizens. The book is just slightly lacking because it is a big of a claggy specimen as things go. Any deviations from within the story are massively distracting and this works against the book in many ways.
Both book and film also emphasize a trope of film and book which would become more popular – that of the Evil Child. It is, however, not as frightening an idea in the modern world because the trope has been used to saturation. If you see a group of white haired children in a group advancing towards you with glowing eyes, chances are you are going to run in the opposite direction!