Good afternoon, readers. Today I will try to introduce you to Starship Troopers. As with the original book and various film adaptations. And there are more of them than you might think. Namely, one short anime, three films, two full-length cartoons, a TV series and a comic book series. I myself did not expect such wealth, so I might have missed something.
In this article, we will consider, first of all, the book original, compare it with adaptations, what they have adopted, their quality, and determine what is worth attention and what is not.
Let’s start with a brief wikipedia information to understand the spirit of the book. Robert Heinlein was born in 1907 in the United States and lived there until 1988. In 1925 Heinlein entered the Naval Academy and retired in 1934 due to illness, with the rank of lieutenant. After the service he was fond of politics and was actively involved in it. So he ran in 1938 for the California legislature, but not successfully.
I wrote this to understand that the author is well acquainted with military life and had broad political views. Actually, it is felt in the book.
Let’s move on to a book published in 1959 in the United States. It is considered combat fiction, and if you took this book for the sake of personalized combat fiction, i.e. for the scenes of future battles, you can read the first chapter and … close the book, put it aside and look for something more interesting. For there are few interesting battles in the book. Only the first chapter, which is needed to hook the reader, and the second half of the penultimate chapter. There is more fighting in the middle of the book, but it is presented as the protagonist’s memories. And the author did not have the task to hook you with the plot.
One of the book covers.
Between these chapters, the book is filled with training for the main character in the landing and reflections on various topics that you can already imagine from a brief biography of the writer. In general, as I understand it, the main task of the writer was to share his views and thoughts through the book, and fiction is needed as a good sauce for reading and to go into the future to reveal his views. The plot itself is fascinating, but not exciting and not rich in interesting moments and twists, so I will not retell it now. And if you’ve watched the 1997 movie, then you already generally know the main points of the plot, so I’ll tell you what the book is about. But I will return to the events of the book when I compare it to the film.
And this book tells about the militaristic society of the future, in which, in order to be considered a full-fledged citizen, you need to serve in the army for at least two years. Full citizenship gives a person the opportunity to participate in politics, to elect and be elected, and a number of certain benefits. But the main advantage is precisely that the army is a ticket to politics. For only the strong in spirit can rule. The author discusses the advantages of such a world order throughout the entire book.
In short, a person who has gone through the army, or even better some kind of conflict, thinks more not about himself, but about others, better understands the responsibility that he bears, taking a certain political position and does not use power for selfish purposes. An army man deserves the right to elect and be elected. And exactly what it deserves, for the service in the mobile infantry is harsh. By comparison, about two-thirds of the soldiers are eliminated in two years of service. Actually, somewhere 80% of the book is a story about the service of the protagonist.
How effective is this system? Maybe. I am not strong in politics and in history, and I cannot adequately assess such a system. In any case, it has its pros and cons.
On the other hand, the author absolutely understands that if you don’t need politics or the army, then to hell with him, because service is not mandatory. Moreover, the GG is initially discouraged from serving in the army. Both the parents and the employee of the local military registration and enlistment office (I do not remember the name of this character and the place where he sits in the book). At the same time, the protagonist is from a wealthy family and he has a choice to go to study and take over his father’s business. Moreover, after tests to determine abilities, suitability and filling out documents, a person is immediately given two days of dismissal. And if he does not come with things to the place of service, then no punishment will follow. And nobody will know anything and nobody will be judged. This is done so that a person would think once again whether it is worth serving him. By this, the author says that a person should be aware of the consequences of his decision.
Also, the author does not deny himself discussions on the topic of US politics in the middle of the 20th century and offer his own world order. Again, I am not strong in politics, especially in a foreign country and especially in its politics in the last century, but the author does not limit himself to two or three lines in his reasoning about this area.
If we talk about the component of science fiction, then we must understand that this is a fantasy of the mid-20th century. This is when people thought that in the future we would travel through the stars without any problems, the ubiquity of robots, but in the end we got hundreds of models of smartphones and washable toilet paper rolls. Therefore, the hero of the book receives a paper letter from his relatives, while he was sent to the moon for training in a multifunctional exoskeleton. I’m not saying that this is bad, our ancestors had such a view of the future, I just try to describe fiction in a book.
Who can you recommend the book to? For those who want to read science fiction on the topic of the politics of the future, according to a person who lived in the second half of the previous century. For the sake of battle fiction, it’s better to read some bottomless “Warhammer” or “Altered Carbon” if you are closer to cyberpunk.
Now let’s try to study the adaptations from the point of view of the book, while in parallel we will study the book itself deeper and evaluate the adaptations themselves. Spoiler: For the most part, films and cartoons took the setting of the future army and the battle with beetles described by Heinlein more than trying to promote the author’s ideas or somehow reveal them. It will not be possible to consider everything in one article, so we will divide the material into several parts.
Screen adaptation of the book: “Starship Troopers 1997”
And let’s start with the well-known classics, the film by Paul Verhoeven, which people associate first of all when they hear about Starship Troopers. Therefore, it makes no sense to describe it somehow. It is visually beautiful to this day, although it has logical holes that science fiction should not have. I want to compare a movie to a book. I understand that it is not always possible to make a film adaptation literally, and the creators may not set such a task. Just take a closer look at the movie with the original.
Cover from Kinopoisk
I will also note in advance that there is not a drop of pretentious and youthful patriotism in the book, which is presented in the film in the form of video inserts of TV programs or phrases of soldiers like “Leave us more bugs!” Again, this is not a bad thing and this is a reproach to the film that it did not retain the spirit of the original or something. I understand that both the writer and the director pursued different goals during the creation of their offspring. I’m just interested in the difference.
Let’s move on to the plot. In the film, the main character John Rico (In the original, according to the passport of Juan Rico, but in the book everyone called him John in the English manner) sits in a lesson in “history and philosophy of morality” (as this lesson was called in the book) and listens to his teacher Raschek … This character is analogous to the character of Jean Dubois, who taught Rick the same subject, and the scene itself is similar to the book. The same conversation about the difference between a citizen and a non-citizen. Of course, the book goes deeper into dialogue. The main difference is that Raschek will meet Rico in the film, and the hero will only write the book Dubois and will be glad that he went to serve and ended up in the mobile infantry. It also seemed to me that the book teacher, in the lesson, was harsher and angrier or what? But this is a subjective perception.
A lesson in history and philosophy of morality. On the right, Raschek is a cinematic version of Dubois.
Now about the love lines. The book also features the character Carmen. But, if in the film Carmen and John are in love and she acts as one of the motivators of Rico’s entry into the army (although five minutes are allocated to disclose the relationship of these characters), then in the book she is nothing more than a friend. In general, I do not really understand the motivation of the book Rico to enter the army. As I understand it, he joined the army for the company. In the book, the hero had a friend Karl, with whom they were inseparable and did everything together. So Karl said that he was going to the army, and Carmen said that she wanted to become a pilot and Rico was like “and I will go,” although he was already thinking of giving up. Perhaps it also played how it might seem that he wanted to annoy his rich parents, as in the film. Like, “you make me live the way you want, and I want to decide for myself what to do with my life.” Generally, in the film, Rico’s motivation looks a little more justified. Of course, I can overlook the fact that in the book John still wanted to have full citizenship, but he does not say it head-on.
By the way, here is Karl himself. True, his book original will work in the research bureau and will die on Pluto. Spoiler, but it is found only at the beginning of the book and the reader does not have time to feel it and the book is not about him at all. And in the film he will become a colonel – a psychic. About extrasensory perception later.
Next comes the autopsy of a bug in biology class, which was not in the book, but let’s talk about the difference between movie bugs and book bugs (such a translation in a book that I read. In the original “Bug”, and race.). One of the main differences is that the book bugs were able to shoot. It is not specifically described what they fired with, but they had, as I understand it, something like natural cannons that coped well with the book suits of paratroopers. It was even described such that their weapons could ignore the armor of the landing and kill the mech pilot without any problems. There is no detailed description of the species of the book beetle, except that it had eight legs. And so this is the same cannon fodder, which is controlled by a smart beetle, to which we will return.
Warrior beetle from the movie. Effective only in close combat. Add some additional, shooting limb, two more pairs of legs and it will be closer to the book version.
If we talk about the beetle that is dissected on the table in the film, then apparently it is a beetle – a worker and in the book it does not look like that. In the book, the worker beetle and the warrior beetle are visually similar. The soldiers of the federation could not immediately, seemingly, distinguish one from the other. People, at first, distinguished them by the nature of their behavior. If he does not shoot or attack, then the worker. Beetles, even at the end of the book, tried to use this ignorance of people.
Let’s move on to the scene with card guessing and extrasensory perception. In the book, the military actively use hypnosis for the sake of hypnosis. For example, in order to quickly give out a huge amount of information to a soldier, improve his moral and mental abilities, quickly control the soldier himself in certain elements and even force a high-ranking person to commit suicide if he is captured with important information. So a soldier could be put to sleep with a code word, right in a spacesuit, during a long operation, so that he would take a break and just as quickly get him out of sleep. Psychics also performed the role of reconnaissance of the beetles’ moves. We scanned the earth layer for tunnels and enemy movement. There are no hypnotic attitudes in the film. Like this scene.
Next is the scene with football and a rival in Rico’s love affairs, which was also not in the book. Here the scene with football, firstly, is taken from the 1988 anime, which we will also analyze, and secondly, it was added for the sake of revealing the GG.
The scene with the parents in Rico’s house is identical to the book scene. There is nothing to add here. The only thing in the book is that this scene starts earlier.
The school ball and Rico Dizzy’s new girlfriend is completely fictional. Apparently, so that Johnny would not be bored, this character was added in the tutorial.
We approach the stage at the military registration and enlistment office (as I call it). The book contains the same scene, only the person who accepts the documents actively persuades Johnny and Karl to forget about the service and go to university. For the armies need not just those who have two arms, two legs, colorfully tells the charms of future service, we need masters and in general, except for full citizenship, this army will not give you anything. There is also a demonstration of the absence of legs, they say that’s what the army gave me. The book needs these persuasions so that the GG begins to fully realize his choice, his step. That he would find in himself a sincere desire to serve. In the film, everything is limited to showing feet for the anti-war agenda.
This character in the film seems good-natured. But in the book, he strongly recommends getting out of here
We are moving to a training camp, which is allocated in the book almost 40% of the volume. The book describes all the hardships of service in the army of the future. I personally did not serve, but it was interesting to read. And if you were outraged that the instructors in the film are cruel and can cripple a private soldier without any problems, then don’t worry. In the book, they are the same and can also break someone’s hand. Okay, not exactly like that. At least their severity is justified by the fact that during the entire service they select fighters so that the best of the best remain. This is also done so that the soldiers deserve their citizenship by hard work. In the film, this is cruelty, for the sake of senseless cruelty in the army and the same anti-war agenda.
Let’s go straight to the knife scene. To begin with, in the book, the knife throwing skill, in principle, makes a little more sense, in view of the fact that in the first chapter, the mobile infantry fights with people and against a man is effective. And in the film we see only opponents of beetles, and a knife to a beetle is a toothpick. Therefore, no one uses the knife throwing skill in the film. As in the book. But this is not the essence of the knife.
In the film, this is a demonstration of the instructor’s cruelty. This leads to interesting reasoning in the book. There, instructor Zeke also teaches how to throw knives and one of the soldiers asks: why do we need this, if we have a more dangerous weapon than these knives? The sergeant replies that there are no dangerous weapons, there are dangerous people. And the instructor makes them dangerous people who will be dangerous even with bare hands, against the most armed enemy fighter. But the soldier replies, they say, why risk dying and losing the war, crawling over burdocks with a knife, if you can use the most powerful weapon available and wipe the enemy off the face of the earth? And I will quote the answer: “War is not just violence and murder, crude and simple. War is controlled violence with a specific purpose, purposeful violence. The goal of any war is to back up the government’s decision by force … ”That is, war is a way to force your decision on the enemy, and this does not mean the incineration of the enemy to dust. And in order to do this, you need to be able to use hydrogen bombs and knives to achieve more complex goals than destroying the enemy.
But in the film it is: “Hear! Don’t be bullshit on your elders, do what they say and don’t be daring! “
Sorry bro, but the instructors here are more brutal than harsh.
Of course, there was no common soul either. Carmen’s flights too. In the book, she sometimes appears in letters and once she and Rico meet, but no more. Let’s move on to the training scene using combat weapons.
Of course, in the film, it is absurd, because in such a situation, a stray bullet can easily kill the same instructor, not like a soldier who is just jogging near the training ground. As for the book, there is a similar scene in it. The same training in the team, but already on a free range, in spacesuits, where you need to destroy a conventional enemy. Rico is armed with a supposedly large-radius hydrogen bomb, but in fact it is a firecracker. So Riko launches a conventional hydrogen bomb to complete his task, but at the last moment he notices that his comrade is in the bomb’s hit zone. But John fires the bomb. The instructors notice this and punish Rico for actions that could lead to the death of a comrade in real actions. For this they beat him with a whip five times. This needs to be shown that in the army for a conditional error you can get a real punishment. In the film, as I understand it, they show the idiocy of the army.
We skip Carmen again and proceed to Rico’s desire to leave the army. In the film, the desire to leave was motivated by the fact that his friend died because of his action on the exercises. By the way, non-combat losses are also mentioned in the book. And because of this, Rico thinks that he is not worthy of serving in the mobile infantry. In the book, he was tired of the service, squeezing all the juices out of him. Constant lack of sleep, hard training, make the seat freeze, and so on. Yes, he humiliates himself before his parents, but it’s better than serving.
And here comes a message about the destruction of Buenos Aires by beetles. For both Ricks, this becomes a strong motivator, with one difference that in the film the Rico family lived in Buenos Aires and died, and in the book only his mother went there, so only she died. Later, in the book, Rico’s father will go to serve in the army, meet with his son and fight under his command.
If we move on to the destruction of Buenos Aires itself, then we must thank the film, because at least it explained how it happened. Yes, a meteorite flying across the galaxy in half a year, launched by beetles from their home planet, which no one notices when approaching the Earth, breaks physics, mathematics and logic. But in the book, beetles just fly in and break the face of the city. And it doesn’t matter.
Stones regularly fly about this path. NASA and Roscosmos regularly make similar calculations.
By the way, do you know bugs and humans are at war with each other? Do not know? So I don’t know. And the author doesn’t know. And the director too. I did not find the motives for the beginning of the war either in the book or in any adaptations. Maybe someone knows. Write in the comments.
We proceed to the landing on Klendatu. I must say right away that the book describes this battle as Rico’s memory of this landing. He landed, was wounded in battle, woke up in a hospital and generally does not remember the battle well. And as you can already understand, in both versions the generals underestimated the bugs and were defeated. But the film shows this segment in more detail.
I will say about the method of landing mobile infantry. The film uses landing craft that detach from ships in orbit and land on the ground. In the book, the mobile infantry, having spacesuits, use individual landing capsules launched from a ship in orbit. Approaching the planet, the capsule disintegrated, creating additional targets for the enemy’s air defense, and the fighter descends already on the suit’s jetpack.
I will also mention the types of beetles. In the book, if I have not missed anything, there are only four types of them: the builder, the warrior, the intellectual and the queen – the womb. It can also be assumed that there are still some beetles-ships, because how did they move between the planets, there are no space disputes in the book, but nothing is said about it head-on. What I mean is that huge plasma beetles knocking down shaved ships and tankers of fire beetles are the fiction of the film.
Further, according to the plot of the film, the planet Pi and the capture of the brain of the arachnids await us. In the book, the same thing awaits us, but first Rico will undergo training in the rank of sergeant. It also describes the preparation process and related issues. In short, a sergeant is the same soldier who has to work more with his head and more with his hands. For example, Rico, during his service, studies mathematics and monitors the state of weapons. Reading this is also interesting.
In the film, on Planet Pi, we have three segments. The first is to find out the fate of the base on the planet, defense on it and evacuation. The second is the shipwreck, the search and capture of the intellectual, along with the rescue of Rico’s girlfriend. In the book, only the last moment awaits us (without Carmen), but the most detailed is painted. Scanning the base, scanning the soil with devices and a spatial psychic for beetles, tricks of the arachnids, and more. A large, penultimate chapter has been allocated for this.
I’ll tell you about the beetles’ intellectuals. There is no detailed description of the appearance in the book, but when compared with what is, then they are similar to the cinematic counterpart. At least they are greasy and nasty too. The only thing in the book, it seems to me, they are smaller. There is a moment where one of the bellows is holding an intellectual in one hand. The dimensions of the spacesuit are unknown, but as I mentioned, they weigh about a ton, so you can dream a little. In the book, this beetle did not eat brains, but the beetles were able to capture people and it is not known what was done with them. Actually, this one of the tasks of capturing an intellectual is to exchange prisoners. Yes, people and bugs could somehow communicate, apparently. But this topic does not develop in any way.
I think this can be the end of the comparison. Only the details remain. Is this a good adaptation? If we consider from the point of view of the reliability of the transfer of the book on the screen, then this is a bad film, because it does not express the meaning of the original source. And if he disowns the book, then this is a cool, independent work. Yes, with its holes, but still spectacular and interesting.
I advise all fans of science fiction both a book and a film. You will get completely different sensations.
It’s not over yet. I have a desire to talk about other films, cartoons and will not forget about the game. Therefore, look forward to the following parts.
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Source : The Verge