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Winner Best Literary Fiction Blog - 2008
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Water for Elephants – The Movie

I read the novel Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen way back in 2007 and thoroughly enjoyed it (read my review), so when I got the opportunity to preview the movie (due for release on Blu-Ray/DVD November 1st), I took it. The producers of this film (starring Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon) have been incredibly true to the book. In many ways, the film builds upon the romance between Jacob Jankowski and Marlena. The passion between them that readers first experienced between the pages of Gruen’s well-received novel crackles on screen.

Water for Elephants is about Jacob Jankowski who is first introduced as an elderly man longing for his younger days in the circus. Jacob has a story about the Benzini Brothers Circus – a story most people do not know. The movie quickly flashes back to Jacob’s younger years as he discovers the circus, Marlena (the wife of the violent circus owner, August), and a special elephant named Rosie.


Fox has done a remarkable job recreating a circus set in the prohibition days. The settings and costumes captured exactly what I had imagined while reading the novel. And there is no better actress to play the stunning and captivating Marlena, than Reese Witherspoon.

Pattinson is a real heart throb and it is no wonder he won the Teen Choice award for his portrayal of Jacob Jankowski. Don’t believe me? Check out this look at his performance:

My sister and I watched this movie and were completely captivated – we both agreed that its portrayal of story and characters paralleled the novel perfectly.

The film has been rated PG-13 and I think that is an appropriate rating. Younger viewers, or those who are sensitive, should be warned there is some violence against both animals and people in this movie which may be upsetting to some people.

Book groups who wish to read and discuss Water for Elephants will find the movie a wonderful complement to their analysis of the book. Fox has developed this excellent Book to Movie Study Guide which would help jump start a lively discussion:

My rating of the movie:

Want the opportunity to win a DVD/Book Bundle of Water for Elephants? Go to THIS post to enter!


  1. October 25, 2011    

    I was very impressed with this movie when I watched it in theatres. It is one of the better book to movie adaptations I have seen!

  2. October 25, 2011    

    I loved the book and can’t wait to see the movie. I’m so glad to hear that it’s true to the novel! Very few are. No need to enter me in the contest. I have to movie in my Netflix queue.

  3. October 25, 2011    

    I read the book way back when, too. I haven’t seen the movie, but i think I am going to have to rent it. Thanks for the review.

  4. October 25, 2011    

    I saw this at the theater and wasn’t crazy about it. Maybe because I’d just read the book. I didn’t think there was any chemistry between Witherspoon and Pattinson. I’m glad you loved it!

  5. October 25, 2011    

    I haven’t read this book yet, but I know that I need to! It sounds like this would be the perfect book and movie for a read first and watch after, but I am worried about the animal abuse. That always really bothers me when I come across it in the books I read. Great review of the movie! I love all the stills that you included!

  6. October 25, 2011    

    Kailana: I agree – I don’t usually like to watch movies of books I love because usually the movie is not faithful to the book – not the case with this one.

    Les: Hope you’ll enjoy it!

    Jayme: You’re welcome!

    Kathy: Really? I loved their chemistry! But, sometimes right after reading a great book is not necessarily the time to see the movie (at least my experience is that it isn’t!)

    Heather: I really could see book club reading the book then watching the movie for their meeting and discussing both together.

  7. October 27, 2011    

    I’m so glad the movie is good! I’ve been curious about since I really enjoyed this book. It’s nice that the movie is faithful to the book.

  8. November 8, 2011    

    Kim: Hope you’ll get a chance to see it!

  9. November 23, 2011    

    I haven’t read the book yet or seen the movie and it sounds like I have missed out!

  10. December 4, 2011    

    Kathleen: Well, you need to remedy that!!! 🙂

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