Imagine yourself walking into an attic full of stuff. Right in the middle, you find a trunk and your curiosity gets the best of you. You open it. It’s full of papers – with a closer look you realise that these pages seem to be ripped from a diary. However, the differences in the handwriting on each page make you consider the possibility that these papers are the pages of several different diaries. And there it all is: a load of diaries mixed up along with some newspapers. If you’re eager to sort the mystery out, if you’re willing to get everything in chronological order, separate the pages and read the end result, then you might enjoy the ‘Green Fried Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe’.
That’s the feeling I get when I read it. It’s a book made up of several stories from the late twenties till the late eighties, in the state of Alabama. This book offers you the chance to travel back to a typical southern society through the stories of different people having one thing in common: a very hard and difficult reality to face.
The book is written in an interesting, but occasionally confusing way. It’s a constant flashback that doesn’t keep a lineal structure in its development. The chapters are structured in a way that it continuously puts forth potential questions regarding the story while reading it. From that point of view it’s interesting, but since there is no chronological pattern, there are moments where the reader knows what happens in advance. The idea of revealing information in this way is quite unusual. There are narrations, letters, newspapers and actual scenes all mixed together in order to fill in the jigsaw.
Because of the peculiar nature of the plot, I was intrigued to see how they would adapt it into a movie. The book has plenty of characters that I knew would be left out. It also had some critical subjects that would be difficult to deliver properly. The theme of racism is constant in the book, while in the film it is mentioned more lightly. As a viewer you only see one scene involving the Ku Klux Klan, exemplifying racial inequality in the South — while the subject of black struggle was explored in greater detail throughout the book. In addition, there is a very strong bond between two characters, Idgie and Ruth in the book, a bond that is clear from the start, an unrevealed love and a major romance that cannot blossom because of the ‘morals’ practised in that specific time and place. In the movie this bond wasn’t shown. Of course, the viewer can imagine more than he sees.
As usual, there were alterations that I find difficult to understand. For instance, in the film there is a scene where Idgie and Ruth get on a train and start throwing food to the black people living along the rail trails. This is presented as a funny moment, which when I saw it (I watched the film first and then I read the book) didn’t make much sense. I felt that there was much more to say regarding the issue of black rail dwellers and the novel thought so too. The scene better succeeded in showing the main characters willingness to support members of the black community.
The adaptation was made by the writer herself, Fannie Flagg, and I suspect that the producers wanted the adaptation to turn into a nice and bittersweet movie to watch, while I personally believe that there was a lot more to say and show.
Fried Green Tomatoes at IMDb
Fried Green Tomatoes at Rotten Tomatoes
Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe (novel) at Wikipedia
Fried Green Tomatoes (film) at Wikipedia
Fried Green Tomatoes (awards won and nominated for) at IMDb