Lion Book vs. Film Rating ***** for both
There is something alluring about reading a book and seeing the film adaptation immediately after. That’s the experience I had with this book/film combo. The book A Long Way Home was first published in 2013. The film came out three short years later, along with the new title Lion.
I saw the film in 2016 after it received six Oscar nominations, including Best Picture. I always meant to read the book but never got around to it. So when I saw it on Bookbub, I bought it and the audio version. For those who are familiar with the current debate surrounding AI audiobooks, this audiobook proves that AI will never be as good as a real narrator. Besides the Indian accent, the narrator, Vikas Adam, changed his voice for different characters, making it an entertaining listening experience.
The story of Lion is about a five-year-old who falls asleep on a train while out with his older brother. He wakes up thousands of miles away from his home in India. How he survives on the streets of Calcutta for two months is the first part of the story. His good fortune of being adopted by an Australian couple takes up a good portion of the middle part of the story. Lastly, nearly twenty-five years later, he learns about Google Earth and uses it to search for his home with hopes of finding his mother and siblings. Beyond that compelling plot, the story touches on a number of important themes: nature vs. nurture, poverty, class, education, women’s rights, religion, and, finally, adoption.
I have written two books and working on a third. In each case, the Internet has been an essential tool. Besides using the Internet to track down people, I have used Google Earth, and Google maps to gain perspective. So, I was intrigued by Saroo’s efforts to use technology to help him find his home. His goal to reunite with his family is the story’s driving force from the moment he realizes that he is lost.
I found the film on Netflix and watched it the day after finishing the book. The film was even more powerful the second time. I loved everything about it. The cinematography, acting, and score brought Saroo’s emotional journey to life in a way only film can do. It received six Oscar nominations, but no wins, losing Best Picture to Moonlight.
This was the first feature film by director Garth Davis. The film stays true to the story with only a few minor alterations to condense time. Sunny Pawar plays the young Saroo. He was believable and every scene. Glad to see that he is still acting. Dev Patel plays the older Saroo, and Nicole Kidman plays his adoptive mother. Both were nominated for best supporting acting roles. The filmmaker’s expert use of flashbacks, along with an emotional score and the camera’s changing perspectives, provides a masterclass in filmmaking.
The film is leaving Netflix at the end of the month. Read the book and then watch the film.