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Reel Books: The Social Network
The Social Network, starring Jesse Eisenberg (Zombieland), arrived in theaters on October 1st. You knew it was based on the true story of the Facebook founders, but did you know that it was based on a book? The book is called The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook, A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius, and Betrayal written by Ben Mezrich (the author of another "Reel Book," Bringing Down the House: The Inside Story of Six M.I.T. Students Who Took Vegas for Millions, made into the film 21 starring Kevin Spacey).
I decided to read The Accidental Billionaires for this blog in particular. I noticed the book a couple of times in the library but it didn't spark any interest. That soon changed.
The first thing I thought about the book was that it was filled with a lot of descriptions. It was like being given a tour of the Harvard University campus. The author described everything from the weather, the buildings, and the students to the wooden furniture. The amount of details in my opinion was unnecessary. But the details did help to set the tone for the type of characters and situations that would soon follow. The world being described was a new world to me and it took some getting used to. As an alumna of CUNY in New York City, it was almost annoying and uncomfortable reading about such an elite Ivy League environment but this did serve a purpose. The feeling of awkwardness allowed me to understand the social awkwardness of Mark Zuckerberg and gave a convincing sense of why he kept to himself and his thoughts a lot of the time.
Another thing that took some getting used to was that the book is written from an outsider’s perspective. After seeing the trailers for the film, I almost forgot that the book Accidental Billionaires is indeed a biography of Eduardo Saverin, the co-founder of Facebook. However, it's written more like a documentary. Whenever there's a time the author is not completely sure of details, he sets up a scene yet lets it be known that it's based on his assumption of what may have taken place. I like the honesty of the author. The beginning was the hardest for me to get through, but once I forced myself to get past that, it got interesting: I almost missed my stop on the ride home. If you like Shakespearean plays, I'm pretty sure you'll like this book because it is filled with drama.
As for the movie, I was glad I saw it. Jesse Eisenberg (Mark) did a great job in stepping away from his previous roles as a sweet kid in Zombieland and Adventureland and played a convincingly clever and witty genius. The book mentions how his character speaks almost like the calculated programming codes he writes and Jesse did a wonderful job conveying this almost robotic characteristic. The rest of the cast did great as well especially Andrew Garfield (Eduardo) and singer Justin Timberlake (Sean Parker) who were just like the people in the book. Even when I saw the trailer, I immediately knew exactly who was playing who.
The Book vs. The Movie
In the movie the scenes cut back and forth from the past to the present while the book describes the events in chronological order, but they both work perfectly for each format.
The book had a touch of humor but the movie was pretty funny and got quite a few audible laughs from the audience.
The female presence in the book was practically nil. When there were females mentioned, it was usually in a disparaging way; the movie tempered the overwhelming amount of testosterone by introducing a couple of good, strong-minded females and even presented a flash of subtle romance. I'm assuming this was to be a more "lady friendly" film. A good tactic, I think. [This has turned into a controversial topic, and director Aaron Sorkin has responded.]
In the book, whether or not Mark stole the idea from the Winklevoss twins and Divya Narendra is not black and white; it actually leans toward the theory that he did not. The movie on the other hand implies that Mark did steal the idea and that it was obvious.
The film contained several dramatic moments of epiphanies and realizations the characters had that the book presented more like casual experiments. As in "Hmm… let me try this and see if it works… OK it does. Ta-da!" which makes sense, given that a movie needs explosive discoveries to keep the action moving forward.
In the movie, the twins had very distinctive personalities and they play on this but in the book they appear to operate as a single unit.
These are just a few of the differences I noticed between The Social Network and Accidental Billionaires.
The one scene I would have liked to have seen as written in the book is the "girlfriend goes psycho" scene. I thought it was hilarious in the book so it was sort of disappointing that it was not on the level of hilarity it could've been if this part had been kept as is.
My favorite lesson from the story: Don't drink and blog.
Did I like the book or the movie better? The book.
If you saw the film, read the book, or both, let us know what you thought!