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Comparing Doubt, Film and Theater Versions

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Comparing Doubt, film and theater versions

Doubt: A Parable was originally written by John Patrick Shanley as a play. It tells the tale of a catholic school nun who is convinced that the priest is having an inappropriate relationship with one of the young students. She does her best to convince other nuns, the parents of the child, and herself that the priest is guilty without having any actual proof. After much success on Broadway and off Broadway, Shanley took his play to the big screen with such acting talent as Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman. Shanley uses several elements when converting the play to film to enrich the experience including the use of weather, multiple scenes and settings, sound, lighting, but three noticeable differences between Shanley's Doubt, A parable and the movie are the use of sound, symbolism, and the performance of the actual script by the performers and actors.

After reading the play, the addition of the audio aspect enriches the story in many ways on the movie screen. When Sister Aloysius and Father Flynn have their big confrontation near the end of the movie, it was noticeably tenser as the argument went on. This could be contributed to the yelling, first by Father Flynn, then by Sister Aloysius, or the escalating thunderstorm outside. As they entered the office, the window was open and the wind was very loud and distracting from this imminent conversation between these two main characters. After Sister Aloysius closes the window, all is silent but the two characters, bringing all the attention to this climactic part of the script. As the confrontation becomes more heated, the thunder outside becomes more frequent and violent, creating much more tension than in the play. In the play, the confrontation seems as if they are both yelling at one another from the start of the scene.

In the movie, Father Flynn keeps his fingernails long and very clean. While this already strange enough, it can hold some important symbolism. There is a small part in the movie, where someone is trying to catch the rat in the church and they insist on using a cat instead of poison or traps explaining, "It takes a cat to catch a rat". Some might say father Flynn had rat-like claws, but this cat and mouse chase is a representation of Sister Aloysius' pursuit of Father Flynn and his alleged wrongdoings. Another use of symbolism was the crucifix worn by Sister Aloysius. When she felt like she was stepping outside of her boundaries, or she began to doubt herself or her faith, she would remove it, or cover it in her dress.

While the wind was responsible for many settings and emotions in the movie, it would be safe to assume that the continuous and sometimes violent wind was symbolic of Sister Aloysius' character. In the beginning, after the first meeting with Father Flynn, Sister Aloysius, and Sister James, Father Flynn tells the church a sermon about gossip and how when the gossiper goes and cuts open the pillow, the wind carries the feathers all over the place.

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