Surprisingly, Thomas Savage’s 1967 book The Power of the Dog was ahead of its time, both in genre themes and its early western style. The novel was not a stumbling block at the time. Still, it was highlighted by Annie Proulx (Brokeback Mountain author) in an epilogue she recently composed for re-release. Now director Jane Campion has adapted to what Netflix expects. To Blockbuster from an Oscar-nominated film. The film revolves around the same basic story and characters and has the same nervous suspense as Savage’s original work. A significant shift (along with a selection of shows) has led book readers and Netflix viewers to experience and interpret this literary dark vest in very different ways.
The Power of the Dog speaks the story of brothers George and Phil of Burbank, who lived and worked on a Montana farm bought by their wealthy parents in 1900. Phil (Benedict Cumberbatch) is the older brother; He is intelligent and hardworking but prefers the hard work that country life requires. George (Jesse Plemons), whom Phil calls “Fatso,” does not have Phil’s analytical brain and general knowledge. Still, he is many numbers and enjoys the simple comforts of a lovely dress and a cocktail party. As they approach their forties, siblings lie down and sleep together in their nursery until George Rose (Kirsten Dunst), mother of a teenager, Peter (Kodi Smit-McPhee), and the widow of the local doctor, get married.
This doctor named John Gordon is the most significant difference between the Savage and Campion versions. The novel begins years earlier when Dr. John Gordon and Phil Burbank are young people who want to understand each other and find their way around the world. John is described as a qualified doctor who is not as ambitious as possible. She is a caring soul who often takes care of patients without a burden and has never failed to offer the life she had promised his beautiful wife, Rose.
The locals think he’s cute, and the gossip only wakes up when Rose gives birth to a strangely ill son named Peter. While Peter is being bullied at school, his father quarrels with Phil and his team. The cruel breeder scolds and then beats John hard. He tries to recover physically and emotionally, but it does not take long before he manages the alcohol and hangs himself.
In the book, the reader is made aware of John’s deteriorating mood in his last days and how he is dead. Although she will not reveal any details until she sues her own life, it is reasonable to assume that Peter and Rose may have known what happened between John and Phil, giving Rose far more reasons to hate and fear. Law. More importantly, it gives Peter a more specific sense for Phil’s murder, as he protects his mother and takes revenge on his father.
The film completely cuts this first part of the novel and resumes in 1925, presumably to solidify the story. The past is abandoned a few times, for example, when Peter visits his father’s grave. Later, as he and Phil get closer to each other, he becomes more confident of his father’s suicide, even though the city public already knows this from Phil’s letter to his parents. Phil remembers many of his lives and collaborations on the farm. Since we can not find out more about his relationship with Bronco Henry in real-time or through flashbacks, the truth about Phil is revealed before he hits his mentor’s saddle and harness. The last action is pretty much the same both ways. Phil and Peter understand each other’s horror and anger, and things can end in romance or violence. Peter eventually wins when he sets a trap where Phil poisons himself with anthrax-infested raw material.
In the novel, Phil’s death is more dramatic. Despite his fatal illness, he walks down the stairs in the morning to give the last sign of toxic literary masculinity. Viewers could learn the same lesson from the book and the film: Peter’s true identity — his true self — his self-confidence, superior intellect, and emotional consciousness — were more critical than Phil’s offensive face.