Their Eyes Were Watching God… The Movie

Last night, ABC ran its premiere of Their Eyes Were Watching God, adapted from Zora Neale Hurston’s novel of the same name. You can read my review of the novel here. I enjoyed the movie. I thought the casting was excellent, especially Halle Berry as Janie. The soundtrack was excellent and very appropriate. The acting was subtle — much was communicated with the simplest gesture or look. However, some of the charm of the dialect was lost. I heard it come through at times in the dialogue, but not like I remembered in the novel. Also, the scene in which Janie finally tells Jody off did not even come close to the power that scene had in the novel. Janie was still way too meek. That scene is my major gripe about this adaptation. I felt that it was a bit hard to believe that Janie wouldn’t age at all over the course of 20 years.

The actor who played Tea Cake, Michael Ealy, had a great deal of magnetism, and his chemistry with Berry was palpable. My first thought when he came on the screen was, “Uh-oh… here come Tea Cake…” If you had read the book, you just knew him as soon as he came onscreen.

Much of storytelling is taken out, and the trial is deleted entirely, but the cast perfectly caught the gossipy old hens on their porch whispering about Janie and Tea Cake, and I teared up when Tea Cake and Janie danced. I was thinking of Zora Neale Hurston. I was thinking that this book was published in 1937 and basically died. It wasn’t resurrected until Alice Walker came along. It wasn’t part of the canon of American Literature until very recently. What a vindication for Hurston, who must have known what a fine book she had written.

The costumes were historically accurate — very beautiful clothes for Janie and everyone else dressed as I imagined. The juke joint in the Everglades was perfect. Watching Tea Cake’s descent into rabies was touching and sad.

At several points, Janie references the title of the book in the movie. I felt that was overdone for those watchers who were unfamiliar with the book. The title comes from the scene when the hurricane is coming, and it seems out of place and odd for Janie to keep telling us, when she looks up, that she’s watching God.

Overall, I have to give it a high rating. It was very enjoyable.

12 thoughts on “Their Eyes Were Watching God… The Movie

  1. I enjoyed the Movie, but the book was really great. There were quite a few parts left out but you can't squeeze it all in. Iloved the scenery and the costumes. Before I knew the movie was coming out I said this would be to good book for Oprah to make into a movie. Now I would like a copy of the movie, is it alailable?

  2. I LOVED THE MOVIE….MANY PARTS FROM THE BOOK WERE LEFT OUT BUT THIS MOVIE WAS AMAZING….I LAUGHED CRIED…MOSTLY CRIED B/C I WAS INITIALLY TOUCHED…I FORGOT MANY PORTIONS OF THE BOOK SINCE I READ IT BACK IN MIDDLE SCHOOL…IT WAS NOT UNTIL AFTER WATCHING THE MOVIE THAT I REMEMBERED IT WAS A LOVE STORY INTERTWINED IN THE NOVEL…I LOVED IT…WHEN IT COMES OUT ON DVD I WILL BE FIRST IN LINE TO PURCHASE IT..OH YEAH THE SOUNDTRACK WAS PERFECT FOR THE MOVIE.

  3. I really enjoyed the movie, it seemed to me a 1930's version of "How Stella Got Her Groove Back"
    I am currently reading the book and I am enjoying it even more because there are more scenes in the book that were not in the movie, but I too would like a copy of the movie, how can I get it?

  4. The movie was nice, however I didn't enjoy it as much as the novel. There were too many things left out that I found to be crucial to the message Hurston was trying to send. The movie degraded the novel down to a simple love story, when in reality the novel was intended to ask hard questions so that we, as readers, may attempt to find complex answers to these questions.

  5. This is one of my all-time favorite movies! I was just wondering if anyone knew if there was a soundtrack for this and if so where can I get it?

  6. I was at lunch with a friend and got talking with a British guy who identified himself as L. J. Whiting (Leonard). I'm a Brit so talking with him was a treat. He said he was on business for "the day" and told me that he lived in Hampstead, London. He also told me he was an actor of yesteryear and played "Romeo" in the 1968 Franco Zeffirelli version of "Romeo and Juliet". While it all seemed a little odd he was quite convincing. I googled him this evening and came up with this blog and the story about the film. So now we know that LJ is alive and well!

  7. Kristen, as an English teacher, I am going to urge you strongly first of all to do your own homework, and second of all, not to go looking for help with it from strangers on the Internet.

Comments are closed.