Book Vs. Film: The Miniaturist

The Miniaturist, Jessie Burton 
This idea, of comparing book and film adaptations, came about when I was watching The Miniaturist over Christmas on the BBC. Having read, and loved The Miniaturist (you can read my review of the book here),  I found myself, as I watched,  mentally preparing a list of similarities and differences between the book and film adaptations. I say film, it was actually spread across a two-part series, with each part being an hour and a half long. 
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Now there were many things I liked about this adaptation but there were also things I really could not tolerate. For instance: 
  • The Miniaturists interactions: in the book the lady sending Nella the miniature items is a passing ship. She’s someone who reappears every so often and then disappears without a trace however, in the programme she has far more of a prominent role within Nella’s life. When Nella finally manages to get a response at The miniaturists shop, in the book, it is an elderly fellow who turns out to be the lady’s father. Between Nella and him they piece together the mystery and Nella gets to hear a bit about this mysterious lady sending her these spine-tingling figures. In the programme, Nella actually explores and finds her way into the living area above the miniaturist’s shop and once she realises the miniaturist lady is there, they have a conversation. I wish I could say that I liked this part of the programme, but to be honest I much prefer the end note to the book -that the miniaturist who has plagued Nella is simply a mystery: and just like throughout the book, she disappears. 
  • Marins Love Life: as with many things about books, I feel as though the book revealed a little more, or maybe even implied more, when it came to Marins love life and even just her personality. Although she definitely opens up more to Nella in the programme, once her secret is revealed, I do think that the book revealed more about her character: which I personally preferred. This is also the case for the character of Otto but you can obviously reveal far more with hundreds of thousands of words in a book than two hour and a half programmes. 

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Having said this, there were also things that I really liked about the adaptation and even a few things I preferred about the programme compared to the book.

  • I loved the setting. It was just dark and cold enough to embody the eerie-ness of the story without coming across too gothic. I also really loved how well they portrayed Amsterdam as a religious setting with the characters devoted to religious ways. I think they covered this element of the story really well which only helped to contrast Johannes lifestyle and the surrealness of the miniaturist and her figures. In a setting like this the miniaturist would no doubt be deemed as practising witchcraft. 
  • The character of Nella came across much stronger in the programme versus the actual book. I can’t put my finger on why or how but even before she finds out about Johannes lifestyle and Marins secret, she appears a strong young woman; even in the strange home environment she’s landed in. 
  • The casting was perfect. I think every cast member involved really relished in their characters role and I think that really brought the characters to life from the book. I also loved the bond the characters had with one another. The friendship between Nella and Cornelia, the respect between Nella and Marin, the thoughtful teamwork between Johannes and Nella: everything just seemed seamless when it came to the casting. 

I could ramble on comparing the book and programme all day long but I think I’ll draw a line there. Like with any adaptation, there is a lot of ground that producers and writers’ neglect to cover simply because they deem it irrelevant or don’t have the time to cover it. Ultimately, I really enjoyed the programme and the way they brought the book to life. 

If you didn’t catch The Miniaturist over the festive season then you can watch it here, on BBC iplayer. It’s not available for much longer so catch it while you can! 

 
Did you watch The Miniaturist? What did you think? 
Cheerio for now! 

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