As we discussed in class, film adaptations are a tricky business. The Razor’s Edge proved to be an especially difficult adaptation as the novel’s characters are all filtered through the mind of the narrator, who’s role and input is omitted from the film version. Thus every character in The Razor’s Edge film seems to be half-baked and half-imagined.
The adaptation harms Bill Murray’s Larry Darrell the most. In the novel Larry is kind, intelligent and enigmatic yet the film forgoes his softness in favor of oafish violence. Larry angrily breaks off his engagement to Isabelle, smashes furniture when she leaves and overall becomes a more masculine, more aggressive character. Larry’s overt aggressiveness muddies his character and undercuts his emotional and spiritual journey by seemingly suggesting Larry is not an intellectual searching for some kind of meta-meaning in his life but a beast of a man who seeks physical challenges like the mines and the hikes into the mountains to find enlightenment. The shot where he finally reaches the mountains, though visually spectacular, left me feeling frustrated because if this is the moment of Larry’s enlightenment, if this is the peak of his spiritual journey, why does it feel so hollow?
I think the movie also takes away from Larry’s interior, spiritual journey by having him find his real happiness and real passion, however brief, with Sophie. He tells Isabelle after Elliot and Sophie’s deaths that Sophie was his “reward” for all of the work and soul-searching he did for the first hour of the movie. Does that suggest that the coal-mining, the living on a boat, the hiking up the mountains, the experience with the monks, and the grocery business has all been for nothing? Was the path to happiness really just Sophia all along? I feel like in the novel Sophie was just another extension of Larry’s interior journey and in the film that motive just wasn’t as easily conveyed.
In the end, I think it was the omission of the narrator’s perception of the characters that left Larry so underdeveloped and contradictory. What do you all think?