Study Guide compares the book Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton to the movie Ethan Frome (1993) This is the ONLY film of the book. The movie adds some characters and changes the plot a little, but Liam Neeson is perfect as Frome.
THE MOVIE VERSION OF ETHAN FROME
IS NOT LIKE THE BOOK by Edith Wharton
RECOMMENDED MOVIE: Ethan Frome (1993) starring Liam Neeson, Joan Allen, and Patricia Arquette. Directed by John Madden. A Miramax Films Picture.
WHAT’S IN THE BOOK THAT’S NOT IN THE MOVIE?
the engineer . . . the graveyard . . . the suicide pact . . . Ethan’s red scar . . .
Mattie’s red hair ribbon . . . the church picnic . . . the pillow . . . Ethan’s study . . . the shaving scene . . . Ethan’s letter to Zeena . . . Mattie’s note to Ethan . . .
WHAT’S IN THE MOVIE THAT’S NOT IN THE BOOK?
Reverend Smith . . . Ruth as narrator . . . the pump scene . . . the love scenes . . . the fox . . . the poison . . . the gift from Denis . . . the comb . . . Mattie’s singing . . .
WHAT’S THE SAME?
the dance . . . the search for the key . . . Zeena’s trip to the doctor . . . the pickle dish . . . the sawmill . . . the smash-up . . .
THE MOVIE: SUMMARY
The following is a scene-by-scene comparison of the movie to the corresponding chapters in the book.
THE MOVIE: PROLOGUE/INTRODUCTION
OPENING SCENE: The new minister arrives in Starkfield, Massachusetts on a train. (ERROR: This character is not in the book. In the book the narrator is an engineer) As he rides into town on a sleigh he sees a crippled Ethan Frome walking along the side of the road (ERROR: Not in the book)
Ned Hale meets Reverend Smith at the train. (ERROR: Not in the book) They drive off in a horse-drawn buggy. As they pass Ethan, Rev. Smith says “shouldn’t we give him a ride?” Hale says, “Naw – he wouldn’t take it.” (ERROR: Not in the book)
Rev. Smith attends a party hosted by his new congregation. (ERROR: Not in the book) The next day Rev. Smith goes to the general store/Post Office. (ERROR: Not in the book) A man named Harlan Gow observes: “Most of the smart ones get away.” (ACCURATE QUOTE but Gow says it to the engineer) Rev. Smith sees Ethan Frome at the Post Office window and walks over and introduces himself. Ethan replies “Frome.” (ERROR: Not in the book) Frome is a tall, muscular man who is severely crippled on his right side. (ACCURATE)