Compare and contrast characters and plots of the film version and the original story of "The Cold Equations."
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This is a tragic story in both mediums. The way that Marilyn has to die because of a foolish mistake and lack of knowledge that could have so easily been averted makes her death both tragic and needless. However, how the TV version and the original short story differ is through the presentation of the character of Barton, the man in charge of the space shuttle that Marilyn has stowed away on, hoping to be able to see her brother. In the TV version, Barton tries to do everything he can to save Marilyn, calculating that if he jettisons everything else in the ship it would still be enough and even then going on to consider killing himself in Marilyn's place, only to stop when he realises that Marilyn would be unable to control the shuttle in his absence. This is very different from the presentation of Barton in the short story, who does indeed try to do everything he can, but who does not go to these lengths, because the moment he finds Marilyn on the ship he knows what must happen, even though he tries to put it off for as long as possible:
There could be no alternative--but it required a few moments of conditioning for even an EDS pilot to prepare himself to walk across the room and coldly, deliberately, take the life of a man he had yet to meet.
The repetition of phrases such as "There could be no alternative" serve to foreshadow the tragedy that must necessarily occur, even when the stowaway is a young girl who is there because of tragic mistake. This is the central difference therefore between the TV version and the original short story: Barton knows in the story that there can only possibly be one outcome to this scenario, whereas in the TV version suspense is maintained through Barton trying to do everything he can to save Marilyn only to find out that his efforts are in vain.
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