“Born on the Fourth of July”
This book was incredible! In all truth this was the first book I have ever read cover to cover. The book, by Ron Kovic, as compared to the film, by Oliver Stone, had some impressive similarities. Both the book and the film did a great job of portraying Ron’s childhood in Massapequa, Long Island. From the little league games to playing war in the woods, leading charges and setting ambushes. This was especially well done in the movie, and exactly as I pictured them while reading the book. The time that he spent in Mexico was well defined in the book as well as in the film. While there were many similarities, what I feel is more important is to focus on the differences.
There were countless small differences in the film as compared to the book, things such as shuffling the order in which chapters appeared in the film. For example, the beginning of the film took a different path than the beginning of the book. In the book the first chapter set the tone for the rest of the book, describing the firefight and all that had gone wrong, Burning into your mind the thought of Ron Kovic lying on the ground bleeding, paralyzed, screaming for help and hearing people get shot all around him. The beginning of the film is a different story all together. It gives you hope, it lulls you into believing that this is a happy story, the kind where everything always works out in the end. It is not until after the entire buildup of the character, after you feel as if you know him, that you see this scene. The accidental killing of the civilians, the baby, the killing of the corporal, all these things happen before you find out that this soldier, this Marine, will come home paralyzed.
The film makes it a point to show that there was an on-going, pseudo romance between Ron and Joan Marfe. The two of them kissing on his birthday, Ron running to the prom and showing up soaking wet, asking her for a dance. Finding her after the war and going to a protest with her. None of these things were anywhere in the book, in fact the book only mentioned her once, and in that mentioning Ron said that he was always too nervous to ask her for a date. The film completely leaves out Ron’s marriage to Helen and his entire time in California.
As for the reasons that Ron joined the Marine core there were some interesting and important differences. The film leads you to believe that the major reason that Ron joined the Marines was to be like his father, and that it was not only his duty to his country, but he wanted to go, in fact he was afraid that if he didn’t enlist soon that he might miss the war entirely. His parents were also a lot more concerned with him going in the film than they were in the book, especially his mother. While in the book Kovic makes it extremely clear that the most influential reason for him joining the Marines was because of the movies he saw as a boy, specifically the “Sands of Iwo Jima” and “To Hell and Back”. He loved the way that...