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Film / Carrie

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The book Carrie has been adapted to film three times:

Tropes common to all the films:

  • Adaptational Attractiveness:
    • In the book, Carrie is described as being slightly pudgy and covered in acne, although she can look good if she wants to. She was played in 1976 by Sissy Spacek at the height of her '70s youthfulness and attractiveness, and in 2013 by Chloe Moretz, whose status as the subject of some fairly creepy gushing is practically memetic. Angela Bettis in the 2002 version, though, was more in line with the book's portrayal, being a fair bit skinnier than the book's character but otherwise looking very dowdy before she's gussied-up for the prom.
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    • To a lesser extent, Margaret in all three films. The book describes her as an obese, imposing woman, while each of the film versions has her played by actresses who, while in their 40s and 50s, were at least somewhat good-looking at the time of filming.
    • Inverted with Helen Shyres in DePalma's film. In the book, she is nominated for Prom Queen and has a date, which implies she is a pretty girl. In the film, she is played by Edie McClurg, a fairly chubby actress, and is something of a Butt-Monkey for the popular girls, not to mention appearing to not have a date at the prom. In the '02 version, though, she is played by the very pretty Chelan Simmons.
  • Adaptational Heroism:
    • Billy and Chris, while still jerkasses in the film adaptations, were Greaser Delinquents in the book. It's mentioned that Chris had once put a firecracker in a girl's shoe back in Junior High, while Billy was a downright thug who forces himself on Chris in one scene. The films largely tone this down to focus on Chris' Alpha Bitch tendencies and Billy's role as Chris' boyfriend.
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    • Carrie herself sort of. In the novel she's fully aware of what she's doing when getting her revenge - and goes home to intentionally kill her mother and later Billy and Chris. The first two films have her go into a trance where it's implied she's lost control of her powers. She also only kills the above three in self-defense.
  • Adaptational Villainy:
    • Norma in the original film, due to DePalma enjoying P.J. Soles's performance and thus rewriting her role to give her more screen time, and Tina in the 2002 film. Neither were actually evil in the book. Though Tina was at least mentioned to be Chris's friend in the book, she wasn't involved in the plot.
    • Also, Billy's friends were a lot less evil in the book. They didn't know about the prank and one of them was horrified when he learned what happened. They also all survived as far as we can tell. In all the film versions, they're fully on board with the prank, help rig the voting, and most of them are killed by Carrie.
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    • Casual dialogue can imply a whole lot. The 2013 movie takes a cue from the book, and strongly implies that Margaret's mother was telekinetic (in the book it was her grandmother). However, the film goes farther with the line "the devil keeps coming have to kill it again and again." Implying that Margaret killed her mother, believing she was possessed. This makes her manic behavior and uncontrollable freak out about Carrie's power much more understandable.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job: Numerous characters:
    • Carrie is described as having mousy hair that was blonde when she was younger. She is first played by blonde Sissy Spacek and brunette Angela Bettis. Her child self in the latter film is also brunette. Chloe Moretz's hair in the remake is closer to the novel's.
    • Margaret has fully white hair (late jet black) in the book, but is played by redheaded and brunette actresses in the movies.
    • Sue is blonde in the book and the 2013 theatrical film but is played by brunette Amy Irving and then brunette Kandyse McClure.
    • Chris is dark haired and olive-skinned in the book. She's been played by blonde actresses Nancy Allen and Emilie de Ravin.
    • Tina is described as red-haired in the book but is played by brunettes Katharine Isabelle and Zoe Belkin.
    • Norma is blonde in the book and PJ Soles matches that. Meghan Black, who plays her in the 2002 film, is brunette.
  • Adaptation Name Change: "Miss Dejardin" in the book becomes "Miss Collins" in the '76 movie, "Miss Desjarden" in the '02 version, and "Miss Gardner"note  in the musical.
  • Adaptational Nationality: The book takes place in Maine, as most King novels are wont to do. But in the '76 version, Carrie, Margaret, and several of the teens have memorably thick Southern accents, which would imply this takes place in a more rural Southern town instead of New England.
  • Adaptation Personality Change:
    • In Brian De Palma's version, Norma Watson is made into Chris's gal pal and openly bullies Carrie as well as being in on the prank at the prom. This is due to DePalma being impressed with PJ Soles's performance and rewriting Norma to expand her role.
    • Again in the TV remake with Tina Blake. While she is one of Chris's friends in the book, she isn't as big a bully and she isn't in on the prank, which she is in the film. Additionally, she becomes a bit of a ditz, while she didn't have much of a personality in the book.
    • Helen Shyres in the book is mostly just a background character as Sue's friend but gets combined with another girl Frieda Jason in the TV film and so has her scene where she is nice to Carrie at the prom.
    • Billy Nolan in the book is a sociopath that abuses Chris and even rapes her once, but in the 1976 film, he's portrayed as a bumbling dork that Chris manipulates. It's notable because a big point of their relationship in the novel is that Billy is the only boy Chris can't manipulate.
    • An especially interesting case in The Musical with Margaret White. While she's still an insane, abusive Fundamentalist, she's shown to genuinely love and want what's best for Carrie, and is even self aware of the pain she causes her daughter. Not only that, she feels guilty! While she's definitely a villain, she comes off more as a Well-Intentioned Extremist, maybe even an emotionally complex Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds.
  • And Starring: Margaret's actresses, Piper Laurie and Julianne Moore, got this treatment in the 1976 and 2013 versions respectively. Patricia Clarkson is credited second in the 2002 version. The 1976 version also had "Introducing" for John Travolta.
  • Corpsing: All of the actresses playing Carrie and her mother have very hard times keeping a straight face. Special mention to Piper Laurie, who was so over the top Brian De Palma had to take her aside and remind her she wasn't in a comedy. (In her interview on the DVD, Nancy Allen, who played Chris in the 1976 version, states that she thought they were making a comedy.) In the 2013 version, meanwhile, every time Julianne Moore tries to get Chloe Grace Moretz to pray, she cracks up. It's very noticeable in the final scene before Carrie is stabbed. Finally, seemingly nobody can take the "dirty pillows" line with a straight face.
  • Crucified Hero Shot: A villainous example. The 1976 film has Carrie's mother, in her final shot, impaled and crucified with steak knives in the style of the Saint Sebastian figurine in the confessional. And like Saint Sebastian, she experiences religious ecstasy during her death. Saint Sebastian, who according to legend was a very handsome young man, is something of an unofficial sex symbol in the Catholic Church (especially among closeted gay men). The movie uses this to show how Carrie's mother has literally channeled her sex drive into religious devotion — or in this case, Saint Sebastian.
  • Curse Cut Short:
    • In the 2013 film, Carrie has this to say to Margaret when the latter locks her in the prayer closet:
      Carrie: (banging on the door, screaming) "God! You son of a—-!" (the door cracks slightly due to her powers)
    • In the '76 version, Chris is telling Miss Collins to stick her exercises up her —. The funny part is due to bad editing, the curse is supposed to be cut short by Miss Collins slapping her, but the actresses are standing too far apart for this, so there's a weird pause where no one's doing anything and it seems like Chris has self-censored the word "ass."
  • Death by Adaptation:
    • Norma and the gym teacher in the 1976 film. In the book and the '02 version, they lived.
    • Tina in the '02 version. It seemed both films made sure that the girl who helped Chris with the prank would get retribution.
    • Averted in the '13 film. It looks as though Carrie was going to Force-choke the life out of Miss Desjardin, but she's actually lifting her off the wet floor (so she wouldn't be electrocuted), allowing her to escape. But Played Straight in the '13 film with Tina again. Also, Tommy dies instantly when the bucket hits him in the head. In the book he doesn't die immediately, though Carrie senses that he's close to death.
  • If You Ever Do Anything to Hurt Her...:
    • In the 2002 version, Miss Desjardin finds Tommy at the prom and warns him that if Carrie doesn't have the night of her life, she'll see to it that he's expelled.
    • In the 2013 film, Miss Desjardin corners Tommy and Sue and confronts them about her belief that the prom invitation is part of some elaborate prank. It's more about her trying to head off what she perceives as disaster than threatening them if the plan goes awry, but there is the implication that if they are doing it out of nefarious motives, she will deal with them.
  • In the Back:
    • In the original film, Margaret does this to Carrie after the prom disaster.
    • In the '13 film, she does this as she's hugging Carrie too.
  • Nightmare Sequence:
    • At the end of the '76 film, Sue dreams of placing flowers on Carrie's grave. A bloody hand suddenly reaches out and grabs her.
    • The alternate ending in the '13 film has Sue dreaming of giving birth only to realize something's wrong. In a homage to the original, a bloody hand reaches out of her and grabs her.
  • Spared by the Adaptation:
    • Carrie in the '02 version.
    • Ralph White, Carrie's father, died in the novel. In the 1976 film, he apparently ran off with another woman.
    • In the book, Sue believes she's pregnant but possibly miscarries at the end. She gives birth to the baby in an alternate ending of the 2013 film.
  • Trailers Always Spoil:
    • The trailer for the '76 version showed off the entire climax, including the deaths of nearly every major character, which makes one wonder why anyone bothered to go see the film. It's particularly hilarious when they dramatically mention "John Travolta in his first motion picture role" and promptly have his car explode.
    • The 2013 version makes use of It Was His Sled to show plenty of footage from the prom, including when the blood is poured on Carrie. This example may be a bit justified, as the book and film have been around for so long and referenced in pop culture so many times that hiding the climax would have proved pointless.


Example of: