The novel, Summer of My German Soldier, written by Bette Greene is about a young Jewish girl, Patty, who befriends a Nazi soldier. She confides in him because of the lack of parental love in her life. The Nazi soldier shows Patty that she is a person of value and is important in the world. This is something that her parents have never told her. Michael Tuchner, director of the cinematic version of, Summer of My German Soldier, does a fair job of portraying the action in the novel, however some key scenes are not shown thus taking away important facts that the viewer would see.
There are many scenes in the movie that are not in the book. There are a few key additions, one of which is, Anton asking Patty for accessories. The accessories are a toothbrush, toothpaste, razor, comb, etc. When he is asking for these things he seems really demanding. In the book he does not appear to be this way. Another addition is, towards the end of the movie, Patty’s father comes into her room and tells her that she is a bad person and is dead to him. He also tells her that she has always hated him, and in a way this compares to the scene in the book where he goes into the garage and yells “nobody loves me, nobody loves me!”. The scene in which Ruth walks through the town with Patty is another key addition. It shows that she is confident in herself and that she is not afraid of the prejudice of the white people. This scene closely compares to the scene in the book where Ruth orders the white guards in the juvenile detention center to fetch Patty’s Christmas bag.
There are many scenes in the book that do not take place in the movie. The most apparent deletion is of the scenes dealing with the grandparents. In the movie Patty’s grandparents are never mentioned; in the book they play a major role in her life. In the beginning of the book, before Patty meets Anton, her grandparents are all she has. Unlike her parents, they treat her like a person. Also at the end of the book they keep her before she has to go to the juvenile detention center. The movie does not show any of that. Another deletion that occurs is Patty’s punishment for housing the Nazi. In the book she is sent to the juvenile detention center as a punishment. In the movie all that is said is that she will be getting a lawyer to help fight for her. Many of the interactions between Patty and her father are not shown in the movie. In the book Mr. Bergen beats Patty numerous times; in the movie Mr. Bergen only beats her once. Instead of beating her, he only yells violently at her. This is probably done to keep the rating of the movie minimal. Also, when Patty goes out to see Anton during the night, in the book her father catches her in the kitchen; in the movie she sneaks out via the window and is not caught.
A few scenes had the same outcome between the movie and book, but the way in which they were done is different. One major example of this is the scenes that involve Anton’s leaving. In the book, it is at night and it is long and dramatic. They also kiss right before he runs into the night. In the movie, it is during the day and very abrupt. The FBI comes to the Bergen’s house to search for the Nazi. Anton is forced to leave because he does not want to be found. They do not kiss in the movie, but Anton does give Patty a kiss on the forehead before he leaves. Another example of the changes which take place are the book’s and movie’s version of the stone throwing episode. In the book Patty goes out to look for the people whose window she broke to pay them back with Ruth’s money. She gets to her father’s store and sees that the car is there. Her dad gets to her before she can get to them and he beats her without even listening to what she has to say. In the movie Patty gets the money from Ruth and starts to leave. She does not even get out of the house before her dad walks in and starts to yell at her. She tries to tell him that she is going to pay them for the window but he just covers her mouth and yells.
During the movie many things take place in different times for which they took place in the book. In the movie Anton escapes during the first part; in the book Anton doesn’t escape until more than halfway through. Also in the book, the preachers’ wife complains to Ms. Bergen about how Ruth got all of the hamburger before she could. She tells Ms. Bergen to fire Ruth, but Ms. Bergen refuses to. This scene takes place in the first couple of scenes of the book. In the movie that episode does not happen until almost the end of the movie. This may be like this to foretell what is to happen to Ruth in the future.
Cinematic techniques were used wisely in the movie. The costuming is very good. Freddy could definitely be seen as a poor boy, Ruth definitely looked like a house worker, Sharon had the image of a little prissy girl, and Patty was definitely given the image a girl who is treated like trash by her parents. The setting in the movie does not at all differ from the book. The conflict in the movie is also the same as the books.
In conclusion, the movie and the book have the same intentions only some scenes are either added, detracted, changed, or rearranged. I would recommend this movie to the study of the novel only the reader needs to keep in mind that there are differences between the two things. They present the same idea but some things are just done differently.