What’s better, book or movie? The question that’s always asked. This is the question that we are asking today when comparing the short story “Harrison Bergeron” written by Kurt Vonnegut, and the short film 2081 directed by Chandler Tuttle. 2081 is a film released in 2009 based off the short story “Harrison Bergeron” released in 1961. The story takes place in the future where everyone is equal, and no one has any advantages. The people who did have “advantages” would have handicaps preventing them from using them. Harrison Bergeron is an extremely athletic, intelligent, and attractive young male; he escapes prison after being arrested for using his “advantages” in public and tries to convince the public that there needs to be a change in society. I think that the written version of this story is the most effective way of telling this story.
I think that the written version of this story is the most effective way of telling the story because it uses imagery to set all the scenes in our heads, so we get to decide how some things look. When Vonnegut describes the appearance of Harrison because “he wear[s], at all times, a red rubber ball for a nose, keep[s] his eyebrows shaved off, and cover[s] his even white teeth with black caps at snaggle-tooth random.”, we can picture what Harrison would look like with these features (pg. 4). The point of a story is to transport the reader to a world of imagination and with lines like these where we can imagine what the character would look like, it grabs our attention. On the other hand, the film, since it is visual, shows you what everything is like. For a person who has read the story before watching the film would be a bit disappointed in how Tuttle portrayed the story. They didn’t show any of the features from the quote above when we first see Harrison in the film.
The story puts a bigger focus on the handicaps that people wear and how horrible they can be. Beauty and athletics count as advantages; when describing one of the ballerinas they say “She must have been extraordinarily beautiful, because the mask she wore was hideous. And it was easy to see that she was the strongest and most graceful of all the dancers, for her handicap bags were as big as those worn by two-hundred-pound men.” in which they also describe the handicaps for these advantages (pg. 3). The written work puts a lot of detail into how the handicaps effect those who wear them and what they are like visually and how they feel. In the films case, they put next to no emphasise on the handicaps. They had the weights and the ear pieces, but they did not have masks for the attractive or the glasses, nose or fake teeth for Harrison. In the film they focused more on the issue Harrison was trying to address; they gave him more lines to explain his situation. They also altered the story line to make it more realistic, but the unrealities of the story are what makes it good.
To restate I think the written version of “Harrison Bergeron” by Kurt Vonnegut is a more effective way of telling the story then the film 2081 directed by Chandler Tuttle because it gives us the opportunity to imagine what it was like and out ourselves in the shoes of the characters. It also gives more details to what living the handicaps was like. So when you are deciding if you would like to read the story or watch the film I would suggest reading the story first, then if you would like you can watch the film.