Books to films

Book versus movie: Clint Eastwood’s ‘Mystic River’ stays true to Dennis Lehanne’s original

However, the female characters, already sidelined in the novel, get short shrift in the screen adaptation.

At one point in Dennis Lehanne’s 2001 novel Mystic River, a police detective asks his colleague as the murder they are investigating takes an absurd turn: “What, we’re starring in a movie now?”

The remark proved prescient. Two years later, the novel was adapted for the big screen by Clint Eastwood. The 2003 movie stars Sean Penn, Tim Robbins and Kevin Bacon as three childhood friends who are driven apart by one tragedy and pulled into each other’s orbits by another years later.

Jimmy Marcus (Penn), Dave Boyle (Robbins) and Sean Devine (Bacon) live in a working-class town divided into the Flats, for those at the lower end of the chain, and the Point, for higher-level employees. Their relationship is as fragmented as their neighbourhood. The cracks become most evident when Dave is abducted by two men posing as police officers. While Dave escapes from his kidnappers’ clutches, he loses a part of himself, and his friendships, to the tragedy.

The three go on to lead vastly different lives. Jimmy becomes a local gang leader of sorts but decides to “go straight” for his daughter’s sake, Sean becomes a police officer and Dave ambles through a life of mediocrity, struggling to reconcile his external world with his inner angst.

Decades later, when Jimmy’s 19-year-old daughter is brutally murdered, Sean is assigned the investigating officer in the case. The same night that Katie is killed, Dave comes home with blood on his hands. As their lives intersect once again, the old tragedy continues to leave its mark.

Play
Mystic River (2003).

Mystic River is centred on a murder, but Lehanne’s novel is much more than a mystery. Filled with morbid insight into the workings of the world, it has the makings of a tragedy.

Serendipity works in inverse in Mystic River – two seemingly disconnected events seem to influence each other in unfortunate ways. Lehanne suggests that Dave’s kidnapping set in motion a series of events that culminate in Katie’s murder. When Dave was abducted, Sean and Jimmy were also present. The fake policemen rounded the three of them up on a flimsy pretence, but asked only Dave to get into the car. Sean and Jimmy neither came along nor stopped Dave – as adolescents, they knew no better.

The hidden link between that betrayal and the tragedy that befalls Jimmy’s family is articulated by the grieving father at the police station after Katie’s body is discovered. “You ever think how the most minor decisions can change the entire direction of your life?” Jimmy asks. “…Say you and me, Sean, say we got in that car with Dave Boyle...life would have been a very different thing.” Jimmy then goes on to conclude that had they shared that tragic experience with Dave, Katie would never have been born and would hence never have been murdered.

What Sean dismisses as the curious musings of a grieving man prove to be a motif of sorts in Mystic River, for old sorrows continue to inform new wounds in the novel.

Play
Mystic River (2003).

These themes are retained in Eastwood’s film adaptation, which, for the most part, does not veer from Lehanne’s course. Screenwriter Brian Helgeland retains much of the author’s powerful dialogue, and the actors are well suited to their parts – Penn and Robbins won Academy Awards for their performances.

The movie mirrors the brooding tone of Lehanne’s novel. This is not a archetypal thriller with rapid cuts and edge-of-seat action. It’s a mystery that unfolds gradually, every scene tinted with the darkness of the world in which it it set.

But the wisdom of the book is stripped down on the screen. To accommodate Lehanne’s 450-plus pages into a 138-minute run-time, Eastwood has to filter out all that is not germane to the plot. However, the slow-burn of the literary source allows Lehanne to explore the characters in detail, which is crucial to a book where the external action is as significant as the characters’ psychological explorations.

While the film takes us to the discovery of Katie’s body in the first 30 minutes, Lehanne’s novel brings readers to that conclusion after a hundred pages of agonising over her fate, the build-up giving the author a chance to evocatively describe the backdrop against which this crime unfolds.

The biggest casualty of this brevity are the female characters of Mystic River, who are missing from much of the action. Included in the book largely as wives and mothers, only their thoughts give readers access to their depths. For the most part, they stay on the sidelines, influencing outcomes in pivotal but hidden ways.

Annabelle, Jimmy’s wife and Katie’s stepmother, is “one tough goddamned woman”, according to the book. We see but a glimpse of that in one of the final scenes of the film, in the character played by Laura Linney.

Celeste, Dave’s wife, is more indecipherable, both a victim of her circumstances and a catalyst in the plot. In the movie, her character, played by Marcia Gay Harden, gets short shrift. A paper titled Beneath the Surface: An Examination of Masculinity and Femininity in Dennis Lehane’s Mystic River argues that the author, while depicting sexist gender norms and patriarchal structures in his novel, also covertly undercuts these, especially through Annabeth and Dave’s characters. That nuance, if it does exist in the book, is missing from the film.

Mystic River the movie works well as a mystery-drama with a tragic undertone. As a book, Lehanne’s Mystic River is a tragic exploration of the human condition first, and a murder mystery second.

Play
Mystic River (2003).
Support our journalism by subscribing to Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

The next Industrial Revolution is here – driven by the digitalization of manufacturing processes

Technologies such as Industry 4.0, IoT, robotics and Big Data analytics are transforming the manufacturing industry in a big way.

The manufacturing industry across the world is seeing major changes, driven by globalization and increasing consumer demand. As per a report by the World Economic Forum and Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Ltd on the future of manufacturing, the ability to innovate at a quicker pace will be the major differentiating factor in the success of companies and countries.

This is substantiated by a PWC research which shows that across industries, the most innovative companies in the manufacturing sector grew 38% (2013 - 2016), about 11% year on year, while the least innovative manufacturers posted only a 10% growth over the same period.

Along with innovation in products, the transformation of manufacturing processes will also be essential for companies to remain competitive and maintain their profitability. This is where digital technologies can act as a potential game changer.

The digitalization of the manufacturing industry involves the integration of digital technologies in manufacturing processes across the value chain. Also referred to as Industry 4.0, digitalization is poised to reshape all aspects of the manufacturing industry and is being hailed as the next Industrial Revolution. Integral to Industry 4.0 is the ‘smart factory’, where devices are inter-connected, and processes are streamlined, thus ensuring greater productivity across the value chain, from design and development, to engineering and manufacturing and finally to service and logistics.

Internet of Things (IoT), robotics, artificial intelligence and Big Data analytics are some of the key technologies powering Industry 4.0. According to a report, Industry 4.0 will prompt manufacturers globally to invest $267 billion in technologies like IoT by 2020. Investments in digitalization can lead to excellent returns. Companies that have implemented digitalization solutions have almost halved their manufacturing cycle time through more efficient use of their production lines. With a single line now able to produce more than double the number of product variants as three lines in the conventional model, end to end digitalization has led to an almost 20% jump in productivity.

Digitalization and the Indian manufacturing industry

The Make in India program aims to increase the contribution of the manufacturing industry to the country’s GDP from 16% to 25% by 2022. India’s manufacturing sector could also potentially touch $1 trillion by 2025. However, to achieve these goals and for the industry to reach its potential, it must overcome the several internal and external obstacles that impede its growth. These include competition from other Asian countries, infrastructural deficiencies and lack of skilled manpower.

There is a common sentiment across big manufacturers that India lacks the eco-system for making sophisticated components. According to FICCI’s report on the readiness of Indian manufacturing to adopt advanced manufacturing trends, only 10% of companies have adopted new technologies for manufacturing, while 80% plan to adopt the same by 2020. This indicates a significant gap between the potential and the reality of India’s manufacturing industry.

The ‘Make in India’ vision of positioning India as a global manufacturing hub requires the industry to adopt innovative technologies. Digitalization can give the Indian industry an impetus to deliver products and services that match global standards, thereby getting access to global markets.

The policy, thus far, has received a favourable response as global tech giants have either set up or are in the process of setting up hi-tech manufacturing plants in India. Siemens, for instance, is helping companies in India gain a competitive advantage by integrating industry-specific software applications that optimise performance across the entire value chain.

The Digital Enterprise is Siemens’ solution portfolio for the digitalization of industries. It comprises of powerful software and future-proof automation solutions for industries and companies of all sizes. For the discrete industries, the Digital Enterprise Suite offers software and hardware solutions to seamlessly integrate and digitalize their entire value chain – including suppliers – from product design to service, all based on one data model. The result of this is a perfect digital copy of the value chain: the digital twin. This enables companies to perform simulation, testing, and optimization in a completely virtual environment.

The process industries benefit from Integrated Engineering to Integrated Operations by utilizing a continuous data model of the entire lifecycle of a plant that helps to increase flexibility and efficiency. Both offerings can be easily customized to meet the individual requirements of each sector and company, like specific simulation software for machines or entire plants.

Siemens has identified projects across industries and plans to upgrade these industries by connecting hardware, software and data. This seamless integration of state-of-the-art digital technologies to provide sustainable growth that benefits everyone is what Siemens calls ‘Ingenuity for Life’.

Case studies for technology-led changes

An example of the implementation of digitalization solutions from Siemens can be seen in the case of pharma major Cipla Ltd’s Kurkumbh factory.

Cipla needed a robust and flexible distributed control system to dispense and manage solvents for the manufacture of its APIs (active pharmaceutical ingredients used in many medicines). As part of the project, Siemens partnered with Cipla to install the DCS-SIMATIC PCS 7 control system and migrate from batch manufacturing to continuous manufacturing. By establishing the first ever flow Chemistry based API production system in India, Siemens has helped Cipla in significantly lowering floor space, time, wastage, energy and utility costs. This has also improved safety and product quality.

In yet another example, technology provided by Siemens helped a cement plant maximise its production capacity. Wonder Cement, a greenfield project set up by RK Marbles in Rajasthan, needed an automated system to improve productivity. Siemens’ solution called CEMAT used actual plant data to make precise predictions for quality parameters which were previously manually entered by operators. As a result, production efficiency was increased and operators were also freed up to work on other critical tasks. Additionally, emissions and energy consumption were lowered – a significant achievement for a typically energy intensive cement plant.

In the case of automobile major, Mahindra & Mahindra, Siemens’ involvement involved digitalizing the whole product development system. Siemens has partnered with the manufacturer to provide a holistic solution across the entire value chain, from design and planning to engineering and execution. This includes design and software solutions for Product Lifecycle Management, Siemens Technology for Powertrain (STP) and Integrated Automation. For Powertrain, the solutions include SINUMERIK, SINAMICS, SIMOTICS and SIMATIC controls and drives, besides CNC and PLC-controlled machines linked via the Profinet interface.

The above solutions helped the company puts its entire product lifecycle on a digital platform. This has led to multi-fold benefits – better time optimization, higher productivity, improved vehicle performance and quicker response to market requirements.

Siemens is using its global expertise to guide Indian industries through their digital transformation. With the right technologies in place, India can see a significant improvement in design and engineering, cutting product development time by as much as 30%. Besides, digital technologies driven by ‘Ingenuity for Life’ can help Indian manufacturers achieve energy efficiency and ensure variety and flexibility in their product offerings while maintaining quality.

Play

The above examples of successful implementation of digitalization are just some of the examples of ‘Ingenuity for Life’ in action. To learn more about Siemens’ push to digitalize India’s manufacturing sector, see here.

This article was produced on behalf of Siemens by the Scroll.in marketing team and not by the Scroll.in editorial staff.