When you hear the title, “Around the World in Eighty Days” what is the image that pops into your mind? For me it was always the big colorful balloon carrying the characters over the Alps. Although I was a big fan of Jules Verne’s adventure stories in my youth and loved the movies based on his tales (The Mysterious Island, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, Journey to the Center of the Earth, From the Earth to the Moon, and of course, Around the World in Eighty Days) I don’t think I actually read many of his novels.
One that I for sure hadn’t read was Around the World in Eighty Days, and I didn’t even see the 1956 block-buster movie, until a decade later, and since then I have watched it numerous times. Presently PBS has been airing a new mini-series of Around the World, which I have been watching. It didn’t take me long to realized that the series had ventured far away from the 1956 movie. They added a woman reporter and a black Passepartout sidekick, along with additional adventures in each locations that the troupe visited.
I read novels constantly and recently finished the book I was on. I lkogged on to the McBride Library’s e-book download site to find another one to start. There I noticed Around the World, and since I had never read it, downloaded it and began reading. It was a revelation.
All my knowledge of Verne’s tale was based on the 1956 movie and the episodes I had watched of series on PBS, and so I was very surprised to discover that in the novel, there is no balloon. I was amazed since there was one in both filmed versions. I found a lot of other storyline differences also.
In the last PBS series episode I watched, the characters were struggling through the Sahara Desert, in the novel, Fogg and Passepartout floated down the Suez Canal, not the desert. Below is a map showing Fogg’s trip from the novel:
Curiously, if you compare this map with the one on the novel’s cover at the top, you will see that whoever chose the cover hadn’t even read the book, because it is really off base.
Of course films can never stick entirely to the original story, and love to enhance the plot using “artistic license” to add adventure and interest to the tale, but I liked the simpler storyline in Verne’s novel more than either of the two filmed versions.
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