The Similarities & Differences Between the Book & Movie of "Tuck Everlasting"

by Leslie Renico
Novels often undergo extensive changes when adapted to film.

Novels often undergo extensive changes when adapted to film.

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Natalie Babbitt's novel "Tuck Everlasting" is the intriguing tale of a family that can live forever, suspended at the same age, thanks to a stop at a magical fountain. Young Winnie Foster learns about their secret, and the Tucks hold her captive. In 2002, a film adaptation starring William Hurt and Sissy Spacek, with Ben Kingsley in a brief role, came out. The movie holds many of the same themes as the novel, but it incorporates several differences to increase audience interest.

Winnie's Age

In the novel, Winnie is 10 years old, and Miles Tuck is 17. In the movie, Winnie is older, which allows the screenplay to include some romantic tension that is not present in the book. This adds a level of intrigue to the movie for viewers, because that sort of relationship is easier to develop in 90 to 120 minutes than a simple friendship or sibling type of connection.

Miles' Temperament

In the novel, Miles is much more easygoing than he is in the movie. The film version of Miles is much darker -- much more "emo," as teenagers would say. This conflict comes to bear on the romantic tension between him and Winnie, and it also makes his kindnesses more poignant.

The Timing of the Secret

In the novel, the Tucks' secret comes out quickly and directly. In the film, Winnie is kidnapped quickly, but the reason is not clear for almost the first hour. Instead, the movie focuses on building a simple attraction between Winnie and Miles. In the novel, she knows the secret before the family kidnaps her. The difference robs the film of the chance to explore the ideas behind inalterably eternal life.

The Yellow-Suited Man

This ominous character appears in both the film and the novel. He has learned the Tucks' secret and wants to use it for his own profit. The idea of the evil behind this greed is one of the themes that appears in both book and screenplay; others include the question of what it would be like to stay the same age while those around you grew old and died, particularly if you loved one of those people.

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