The Martian (2015 Film)

Faith in American Power: Space Travel on Film in 'The Martian' College

When comparing the way two mediums depict the same story, one has to take into account the limitations of each medium. Films are generally limited by length, while books are generally limited by each reader’s individual imagination. In the case of “The Martian”, this length limitation on the film not only cuts out interesting parts of the narrative, but shifts the overall tone of the text. While the bones of each text read the same, the film’s deviations from the novel shift the message from emphasizing the intelligence and luck of one man to an affirmation of American imperialism and ingenuity.

This shift establishes itself primarily in the amount of time the audience spends with the group of people on Earth. In the novel, the majority of the story happens on Mars with Mark, with some scenes from the crew of Hermes and a few scenes about NASA on Earth. In the film, NASA gets a lot more focus, perhaps to make the audience feel like they are watching it happen like everyone else on Earth. Regardless of the reasoning behind this choice, the proportion of time spent on each planet balances out to almost equal in the film, which means less focus on Mark than in the novel. Many of his significant scenes are cut in the name of a...

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