The Norman Jewison film A Soldier's Story is a very close adaptation of Charles Fuller's A Soldier's Play . The sequence of events largely plays out in the same order and all of the characters are portrayed exactly as they are in the play version. The differences mainly come...
The Norman Jewison film A Soldier's Story is a very close adaptation of Charles Fuller's A Soldier's Play. The sequence of events largely plays out in the same order and all of the characters are portrayed exactly as they are in the play version. The differences mainly come down to the contrast between mediums: film is more realistic by its very nature, whereas theater tends to be more abstract.
One big difference between the play and the movie is the way scenes are staged. The play all takes place on one set, with past episodes playing side by side with the "present-day" characters as they discuss their impressions of Waters or the other characters. This reinforces the fluidity between the past and the present, showing how someone's past can continue to affect them strongly. The only scene where the movie plays with this sort of staging is during Waters's description of the Black soldier he helped murder in Paris during World War I: the camera closes in on Waters and the scenery around him fades to black, creating a sense of the stage version's temporal fluidity and abstraction.
Otherwise, the film version lays scenes out more or less realistically. Davenport travels around the military base to talk to different people. Instead of keeping all the action within one location, the film shows different parts of the base to keep the setting more varied. Movies adaptations of plays try to avoid being criticized for "stagey-ness," that is, making a movie too talk-heavy and with little sense of action.
Preference for the stage or film version will depend upon the individual. One might like the more abstract presentation within the play or the more realistic version as laid out by the movie. The stylistic difference between the two says much about how another medium can make the same story appear quite different.